Emulsion-based Nanomaterial Inks for performance coatings with functional properties

Problem

The superlative properties of graphene and related 2D materials have not yet been realised in real-world applications, such as printed electronics, conductive composites and energy storage devices, due to difficulties in processing at large scale, in appropriate media, and with controlled structures.

Overview

This nanomaterial-stabilised emulsions patent, owned by the University of Sussex and licensed to Advanced Materials Development (AMD), allows nanomaterials to be assembled into controlled macroscopic structures.

By forming emulsions stabilised by liquid-exfoliated nanosheets, graphene and related 2D-materials can be dispersed as nanomaterial inks – stable liquid dispersions with a range of nanomaterials – and assembled into controlled structures or assembled into coatings which can be placed on a range of substrates using commercial printing techniques, such as ink-jet printing, to enable a number of applications.

Diagram displaying ultrasonication

Diagram displaying ultrasonication.

 

Potential applications

AMD and Alan Dalton, Professor of Experimental Physics, and researchers in his lab are already collaborating with companies and organisations from the automotive, packaging, telecommunications, retail and defence industries to develop applications for nano-materials. 

These nanomaterial emulsion templated structures facilitate the preparation of:

  • Ultra-stable, high concentration functional inks for printed electronics which allows controlled deposition. These could be used, for example, to eliminate metals from radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags by developing printable carbon-based antennas
  • Health monitoring electromechanical sensors where the influence of strain on conduction between emulsion droplets confers high sensitivity required for health monitoring. The wearable medical devices, made from an emulsion of graphene, water and oil, are so sensitive that it picks up very small signals, such as a baby’s heart and breathing rates, when attached to the body
  • Emulsion-templated electrode materials with controlled porosity and electrical and mechanical properties for energy storage materials, such as next-generation Li-ion batteries.
  • Incorporating proprietary nano-platelet inks into various substrates, including textiles, to improve the traceability of items and to combat counterfeiting.

IP status

The technology is protected by an International (PCT) patent application WO2019/135094.

Publications

  • Large, M. J.Ogilvie, S. P.Meloni, M.Graf, A. A.Fratta, G.Salvage, J.King, A. A. K.Dalton, A. B. Functional Liquid Structures by Emulsification of Graphene and Other Two-Dimensional NanomaterialsNanoscale 2018101582– 1586DOI: 10.1039/C7NR05568D

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