A problem regularly faced when trying to incorporate graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) into systems such as thermoplastics and epoxy resins is achieving a good dispersion of the GNPs within the target medium without re-agglomeration occurring which leads to poor and inconsistent final materials performance in the graphene composite systems.
This, along with a lack of reliable materials characterisation are key barrier to adaptation of these materials in markets such as motorsport and construction.
Functionalisation of GNPs can help improve the dispersion within systems, however the processes used to impart the functional groups upon the GNPs can damage the basal plane of the materials, thus decreasing materials performance in areas such as mechanical reinforcement and electrical conductivity.
Here 2-DTech (2DT) will work closely with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) to produce a range of functionalised GNPs via wet chemical and plasma approaches with an aim of improving GNP dispersion within target polymer systems.
The expertise and instrumentation available at NPL will be used to determine that the correct functional groups are present within the final functionalised materials and that the basal planes remain defect free via a suite of high-end instrumentation and measurement techniques.
This will allow for the development of optimised functionalised GNPs which will be incorporated into polymer systems and be tested to show consistent final performance, thus elevating two of the key barriers to adoption for these materials.