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:
Billabong, global maker of surf & snow technical clothing and gear, recently announced its plans to be the first surf brand to go to market with a suit that utilizes graphene. The surfing apparel will be called Furnace Graphene, and is scheduled to appear in Billabong's 2019 fullsuit line.
The Billabong Furnace Absolute is planned to sport graphene lining on the front and back panels, and be more flexible and easy to use. In addition, it will enjoy flex and thermal retention capabilities. The Company referred to this tech as "an innovative new design where graphene wrapped yarns trap and retain heat more efficiently".
Graphene Flagship partner, Emberion, will be launching a VIS-SWIR graphene photodetector at Laser World of Photonics, from 24 to 27 June in Munich, Germany. The linear array covers a wide spectral range, detecting wavelengths from the visible at 400nm into the shortwave infrared up to 1,800nm. Traditionally, it would require both silicon and InGaAs sensors to image across this wavelength range.
Emberion estimates that replacing a system using silicon and InGaAs sensors with its graphene photodetector would result in a 30% cost reduction.
Italian bicycle tire manufacturer Vittoria Industries recently announced that it is launching a new range of products employing a second generation of its graphene-filler technology. The graphene supplier is assumed to be Perpetuus Carbon, as the two companies signed a long-term supply agreement for graphene materials.
It was said that while the first-generation generally enhanced the performance of tires, the new 2.0 graphene is functionalized to improve specific tire performances, targeting metrics like speed, wet grip, durability and puncture resistance.
In October 2018, Huawei announced its Mate 20 X smartphone, which was a gaming smartphone that adopted a graphene film cooling technology for heat management purposes. Now, Huawei launched the Mate P30 Pro smartphone, that adopts a graphene film as well.
The Mate 20 X was a bit of a niche phone, but the P30 Pro is more mainstream one (even though it is quite expensive at around $1,200). Besides the graphene cooling film, the P30 Pro sports a 6.47" 1080x2340 flexible AMOLED display, an under-the-display fingerprint sensor, a Kirin 980 chipset, 6/8 GB of RAM, 64/128/256/512 GB of storage a Nano Memory card slot and a high-end quad-camera setup.
MediaDevil, a UK-based maker of various phone, laptop and tablet accessories, is selling the Artisanphonics CB-01 Earphones - Noise-isolating Premium Wood Earphones with Nanene Graphene-Enhanced Audio.
These earphones, enhanced with Versarien's Nanene material, reportedly sport an earphone diaphragm that is thinner and more flexible than traditional materials can allow. MediaDevil says that independent testing conducted by a leading British premium audio company found that, remarkably, Nanene enhances both the high-end (treble) and the low-end (bass) of the audio frequency wave.