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Graphene Research Looks at Amphiphilic Properties

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

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New research out of Cranfield University, in Cranfield, England, has found that graphene flakes can act as a surfactant, acting as a 2D stabilizer and water repellent that can be useful in a variety of applications.

The researchers found that at a specific size—below 1-micron lateral size—amphiphilic (meaning both hydrophobic and hydrophilic) behavior is possible. The graphene flakes attract water at the edges but repel it on the surface.

“This new finding, and clear experimental demonstration of surfactant behavior of graphene, has exciting possibilities for many industrial applications,” said Krzysztof Koziol, Professor of Composites Engineering and Head of the Enhanced Composites and Structures Centre at Cranfield University.

enot-poloskun / Getty Images

New research out of Cranfield University, in Cranfield, England, has found that graphene flakes can act as a surfactant, acting as a 2D stabilizer and water repellent that can be useful in a variety of applications.

“We produced pristine graphene flakes, without application of any surface treatment, at a specific size which can stabilize water/oil emulsions even under high pressure and high temperature. Unlike traditional surfactants which degrade and are often corrosive, graphene opens new level of material resistance, can operate at high pressures, combined with high temperatures and even radiation conditions; and we can recycle it. Graphene has the potential to become a truly high-performance surfactant.”

In addition to more industrial uses such as in oil and gas projects, researchers also point to use as a plasticizer for fluid concrete, which would include fireproofing and waterproofing.

“There is an enormous volume of scientific research on graphene. In some ways this is to be applauded but it can also lead to conflicting results in the literature—as in the present example of whether graphene flakes are hydrophobic or amphiphilic,” said Mike Payne, Professor of Computational Physics at Cambridge University.

Our work combines exciting experiments on well characterized material with a range of theoretical simulations, including quantum mechanical calculations. Together they provide a detailed understanding of the properties of the graphene flakes and a definitive answer to this question.”

The University is now reportedly working on developing the research to commercial levels of application.

   

Tagged categories: Coatings Technology; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Graphene; hydrophobic coatings; Research and development; Water repellents

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