Start up business Sicona Battery Technologies has purchased a world-first, scalable, edge-functionalised graphene production method from researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials and ANFF-Materials.
As part of the deal, Sicona signed a two-year research agreement with Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) researchers to scale up the EFG fabrication process for commercial production as well as further explore the potential of EFG as a battery material.
Most current graphene fabrication methods can create a few grams of graphene in the laboratory, but they have proven too expensive to scale up to industry relevant amounts.
The large single sheets of graphene that can be produced from graphite by physical or chemical methods are poorly soluble in most solvents and are prone to reassemble into insoluble graphite-like particles.
Researchers from the University of Wollongong ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) and ANFF-Materials, led by Prof. David Officer and Distinguished Prof. Gordon Wallace, developed a patented, scalable, graphite-to-graphene process.
This allows them to chemically modify only the edges of the graphene sheets to give a highly conductive edge-functionalised graphene (EFG), according to a statement.
The resulting extensive edge functionalisation of the EFG sheets offers unprecedented solubility, and also prevents the reassembling of the EFG into unwanted graphite particles.
What results is a highly processable graphene that can be used as a powder or dispersion, paste, or even dough and can readily disperse in water or a wide variety of polar and non-polar organic solvents.
As a result of this unique processibility, NSW start-up Sicona Battery Technologies purchased the EFG patents from the University of Wollongong for utilisation in their battery technology.
Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms bounded tightly together in a repeating honeycomb pattern of hexagons, is a very promising nanomaterial due to its exceptional properties.
It has the potential be used in a variety of technological applications and devices and radically impact many areas such as energy harvesting and storage, sensing, electronic devices and polymer composite technologies.
Image: Australian National Fabrication Facility