What is Functionalised Graphene?

Graphene was hailed as a “wonder material” when it was first isolated in 2004. It represented a new frontier of material development, exhibiting unparalleled strength, electrical conductivity, and thermal properties. Yet, there has arguably been a failure to deliver on that early promise. Graphene is an extremely tricky material to produce in industrial quantities. Mechanical exfoliation is sufficient for yielding small monolayers for experimentation, but this isn’t a scalable solution.

However, the status quo may finally be changing thanks to the functionalization process. This technique, which involves modifying graphene’s surface with various chemical groups, significantly expands its application scope across multiple sectors.

In this blog post, we delve into what functionalised graphene is, the process of its production, and its diverse applications that span industries from electronics to biomedicine.

Understanding Functionalised Graphene

Functionalised graphene refers to graphene that has been chemically modified to alter its properties for specific applications. The introduction of functional groups (such as hydroxyl, carboxyl, and amine groups) to graphene’s hexagonal lattice can improve its dispersibility in various solvents, enhance its compatibility with different matrices, and introduce new functionalities. This modification is crucial for overcoming some of graphene’s inherent limitations, such as its tendency to agglomerate due to strong van der Waals forces.

The Process of Functionalisation

The functionalisation of graphene can be achieved through various methods, with plasma treatment being one of the most advanced and environmentally friendly techniques. Plasma treatment involves exposing graphene to a plasma, thereby enabling the attachment of functional groups to the graphene surface without using solvents or harsh chemicals. This process not only maintains the structural integrity of graphene but also allows for the tunable addition of functional groups, offering control over the material’s properties.

Applications of Functionalised Graphene

The implications of functionalised graphene are vast and diverse, impacting several industries by enhancing existing materials and enabling new technologies:

  1. Electronics and Conductive Inks: Functionalised graphene can be used in conductive inks for flexible electronics, offering superior electrical conductivity and flexibility. This application is pivotal for developing wearable technology, flexible displays, and smart textiles.
  2. Composite Materials: By improving the dispersibility and compatibility of graphene with various matrices, functionalised graphene can significantly enhance the mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of composite materials. This enhancement is beneficial for aerospace, automotive, and sports equipment industries, where high-performance materials are crucial.
  3. Energy Storage: Functionalised graphene can improve energy density and charge-discharge rates in batteries and supercapacitors. This application is essential for developing more efficient and longer-lasting energy storage systems for electric vehicles and portable electronics.
  4. Biomedical Applications: Functionalised graphene shows promise in biomedical fields for drug delivery, biosensing, and tissue engineering. Its ability to be functionalised with biocompatible groups can lead to the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
  5. Environmental Remediation: The modified surface chemistry of functionalised graphene can be tailored for adsorbing pollutants, making it a powerful tool for water purification and air filtration applications.

Graphene composites for strength and stability in aerospace and automobiles

Interested in Functionalised Graphene?

Functionalised graphene represents a significant leap forward in applying graphene, offering tailored solutions for specific industry challenges. Graphene’s exceptional properties can be harnessed and enhanced through advanced techniques like plasma treatment, paving the way for innovative products and technologies. As research and development in this area progress, the potential for functionalised graphene to impact our world is vast and ever-expanding, marking a new era in material science and engineering.

At Haydale, we are proud to offer our HDPlas® Plasma Enhancement and Functionalisation Service, a cutting-edge solution designed to meet the dynamic needs of industries looking to leverage the remarkable properties of functionalised graphene and other nanomaterials. Our sophisticated plasma reactors enable us to precisely bond tunable functional groups to the surfaces of various substrates, offering a three-dimensional treatment that enhances surface chemistry without compromising the material’s integrity. Our process is environmentally friendly, eliminating the need for solvents and harsh chemicals, and is scalable to industry demands.

We cater to various materials, including powders, fibers, and larger substrates, such as metallic components, wafers, and films. Our technology’s versatility allows for the control of wettability and the enhancement of interactions between fillers and matrices, leading to significant improvements in the thermal, mechanical, and electrical properties of elastomers, composites, inks, and coatings.

Our consultancy and customised treatment services provide tailored solutions that achieve hydrophilic, hydrophobic, carboxylic, amine, and oxidative modifications, catering to over 250 different types of materials we have treated and characterised to date. This expertise ensures that we can enhance the specific properties needed for our clients’ projects, improving product quality and performance, reducing re-agglomeration, enhancing wettability, and streamlining downstream processing.

We are committed to delivering bespoke, environmentally conscious plasma treatment solutions that are both scalable and finely tuned to the unique requirements of our clients. With a solid foundation in research and development, we at Haydale are dedicated to tackling the technical challenges of our time, showcasing the transformative potential of functionalised graphene in materials science and driving innovation across multiple sectors.