Research findings indicate the material shows promise as a sensor for detecting glucose in the saliva or tears and for "supercapacitors" that could make possible fast-charging, high-performance batteries.
However, for the material to be commercialized researchers must find a way to mass-produce it at low cost.
"It's one thing to say you've got a new wonder material, but can you prove that it can be made on a commercial scale?" said
Now, a team of
The underlying technology was developed by a research group led by
"Using these graphene nanopetals we have realized exceptional performance in a wide range of devices at laboratory scales," Fisher said.
The researchers hope to boost the production speed of nanopetal-coated surfaces to 10 square meters per hour, representing a dramatic increase over the laboratory-scale production rate.
Raman has expertise in roll-to-roll manufacturing, a mainstay of many industrial operations including paper and sheet-metal production. He models the mechanics of the process of creating flexible materials in sheets at high speed and under tension.
"A key factor is going to be industry partners," he said. "There are many industries that have roll-to-roll operations. So focusing on roll-to-roll as a platform for doing nanomaterials production is very strategic for the Midwest."
He also has expertise in precision measurement using an atomic force microscope.
"You have to be able to measure the material while it is being manufactured, and this is a challenge because of the nanometer scale of the petals," he said.
The graphene nanopetals also have shown promise as a "thermal-interface" material to keep computer chips from overheating.
"A slew of new device and material concepts based on graphene nanopetals are emerging in applications as diverse as carbon fiber composites and new thermal-interface materials," Raman said. "Commercial interest is extremely high for this recent carbon nanomaterial. "
Other key researchers in the project are
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