Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms in a honeycomb crystal lattice (hexagons), and is the single building-block of graphite. Graphene is exciting researchers and businesses around the world - as it's strong and thin and possesses very interesting properties. Among others, it is the strongest material in the world, while being lightweight and with extraordinary electrical, thermal and optical properties. Graphene has a lot of possible applications in various fields like batteries, sensors, solar panels, electronics and more.
There are dozens of companies that produce graphene (and graphene-based materials). While production volume is relatively small and prices are still high, we already begin to see some commercial applications that use these materials. Hopefully in coming years production volume will increase and prices will drop which will enable more and more products to use graphene based materials.
Commercial products that use graphene
Graphene-enhanced applications and products are starting to appear. The first product to use graphene, as far as we know, is the Siren Technology security smart packaging, which uses Vorbeck Materials's graphene based Ink.
Some companies have announced some graphene based products, we're not sure if these are real yet. Shanghai's Powerbooster Technology claim to have developed a graphene-based flexible touch-panels for mobile devices. They say they are already producing millions of such panels a month, shipping them to mid-sized Chinese smartphone makers. This isn't confirmed yet though.
Composite materials are among the first ways to commercially use graphene, which can bestow beneficial properties upon them like lightness of weight, flexibility, mechanical strength and more. Graphene-enhanced composite materials have started to appear commercially in the field of sports gear.
In the beginning of 2013, HEAD announced their new range of graphene tennis rackets (YouTek Graphene Speed series). These rackets supposedly use graphene to make the shaft stronger and lighter, and HEAD says that the graphene helps distribute the weight better and creates a stronger and better controlled racket. HEAD offers five different rackets, ranging from $170 to $286. It's still not clear what's the material HEAD are using exactly in this product, but it's likely that they are using AGM's graphene flakes.
In 2014, HEAD launched a line of graphene-enhanced skis for women, called Joy, which are meant to be lightweight and durable. The line includes several models, and is currently about 20% more expensive than traditional skis.
International wheel producer Vittoria sells a range of bicycle wheels that are built from graphene-enhanced composite materials. The wheels, called Quarno (Graphene Plus inside) are available in three different editions (46, 60 and 84 mm) and contain graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) provided by Directa Plus. The company explains that the graphene grants the wheels advantages like heat dissipation (15-30°C lower) – a crucial factor in the slopes, an increase in lateral stiffness (more than 50%) and puncture reduction, especially around the valve area.
UK-based Dassi Bikes offers what it refers to as "the world’s first bike made with graphene". The Dassi bike frame is said to contain 1% graphene throughout six layers underneath the carbon surface layer. The frame weighs just 750g and engineers predict that sub 400g frames could be achievable.
In 2014, A Spanish company called Catlike launched a line of cycling helmets called Mixino 2014, enhanced with graphene. These helmets are said to be light and strong, and offer major improvements in the field of safety and impact absorption.
Catlike also launched a line of graphene-enhanced cycling shoes to hit the market around Christmas 2014-2015. The line is called whisper and combines different kinds of cycling shoes (for road, mountain and triathlon biking). The shoes are supposed to provide superior performance by being light and durable.
In addition to sports gear, graphene can be incorporated in many other fields and products like sensors, electronics and more.
Applied Graphene Materials announced that it has supplied its graphene material for use in the production of a range of fishing rods, made by UK's Century Composites. Century has unveiled a new range of fishing rods containing the AGM's GNPs, sold under the brand Graphex..
In 2017, Team Group, memory solutions and accessory provider, announced the addition of new products to their existing T-FORCE gaming line of products. Among the new products is the T-FORCE CARDEA ZERO M.2 PCI-E solid-state drive, featuring graphene copper foil cooling on the SSD module allowing the SSD to maximize cooling benefits from both natural passive cooling and directed air cooling via fans to deliver excellent heat dissipation. Utilizing graphene provided by Nitronix and designing combinations of different proportions of graphene and copper foil, the patented graphene copper foil heat spreader was reportedly achieved through stringent multiple verification. It offers excellent thermal cooling effect even in a closed space.
We expect the first graphene-based mass-market products to be touch displays and Li-Ion batteries.
The audio field can also benefit from the use of graphene. China-based FiiO Electronics launched in-ear monitor earphones, the FiiO F3, that make use of a graphene-enhanced diaphragm driver. FiiO says that graphene enabled the development of a thin and flexible driver, which enables the F3 to faithfully reproduce music with a clean, rich, yet transparent high-fidelity sound. The FiiO F3 is shipping in China and in the US.
Anker’s audio brand, Zolo, sells its Liberty graphene-enhanced fully wireless earphones. The Zolo Liberty earphones cost $99, which may seem expensive but the company explains that these are wireless and offer a whole-day battery life. It also comes with AI for smart assistance and is sweat-proof (and so suitable for use in fitness activities). The ZOLO promises super clear and immersive sound quality and the graphene-enhanced technology reportedly results in impressive treble and clarity.
The latest graphene products news:
XG Sciences recently announced the innovative use of XG Sciences’ graphene in Grays’ field hockey sticks. For over 160 years Grays of Cambridge has been on the forefront of creating superior sports equipment and has continued that path by strategically incorporating graphene into their GR hockey sticks to elevate player performance.
“Adding graphene into our durable GX composite matrix enabled us to forge the GR Collection to deliver exceptional feel, power and playability,” said James Bunday, Range Development Lead, Grays Hockey. “The feedback we received after launching the GR Collection was tremendous because the graphene-enhanced technology strengthens the hockey sticks and helps players reach great all-around performance.”
Famous tire and rubber company Goodyear has launched two new bicycle tyres, Eagle F1 and Eagle F1 Supersport utilizing graphene technology and weighing just 180g for a 23mm model.
The new Eagle F1 is an “ultra-high-performance all-round road tire” and the Eagle F1 Supersport, which is even lighter, is aimed at the upper echelons of competition and will be suited to road racing, time trial and triathlon where speed trumps all other requirements.
When speaking of graphene in terms of commercialization, the general impression is that "a killer application has not yet been found". While this is not a false concept, it does not do justice with the now-budding graphene world. It can easily be stated that many graphene applications are being developed. This has been true for years, but various commercial products are starting to pop up, hopefully heralding the beginning of a more steady stream of commercialization.
Among these applications, one can point to cooling technology like Cryorig's CPU cooling system or Huawei's Mate 30 X smartphone, which sports a graphene film cooling technology. Various footwear and sports equipment products have also been launched, along with more technical products like oil additives and coatings. The list goes on and on, and there are even graphene-enhanced sanitary napkins on the market!
The collaboration between the University of Manchester and British sportswear brand Inov-8, which started in 2017 and has already produced the G-Series range of graphene-enhanced shoes and a pair of hiking boots which utilize graphene, has now expanded even further.
Since launching in 2008, the X-Talon has been Inov-8’s best-selling off-road footwear collection. Now, the brand announced that they have evolved the range with the graphene-enhanced X-Talon G 235.
PC gear company Cryorig has introduced its low-profile CPU graphene-enhanced cooling system for small form-factor PCs that can dissipate up to 125 W. The Cryorig C7 G is among the smallest coolers for higher-end processors available today. To make C7 G's high performance possible, Cryorig applied graphene coating on the heatsink.
As demands arise for higher-performance components, cooling designers are creating low-profile coolers rated for TDP levels of 95 W of higher. To maximize efficiency of such devices, manufacturers use copper for heatsinks, many heat pipes, and large fans. Cryorig decided to go one step further and applied graphene coating to the radiator’s fins. Thermal conductivity of graphene is considerably higher than thermal conductivity of aluminum or copper, so applying it on the fins could theoretically improve cooling performance.