IMechE - New standard will tell buyers if graphene is really graphene

Making it possible to measure and label commercially-available material as graphene, few-layer graphene or graphite, the ISO/IEC standard will help companies know what they are purchasing.

Based on methods developed with The University of Manchester in the NPL Good Practice Guide 145, the standard – ISO/TS 21356-1:2021 – will be used for measuring the structural properties of graphene, typically sold as powders or in a liquid dispersion.

Graphene, a 2D material that is just one atom thick, has moved from the laboratory into real world products such as cars and smartphones over the last few years – but understanding its true properties is still a ‘barrier’ to commercialisation, the NPL said. “There is not just one type of material, but many, each with different properties that need matching to the many different applications where graphene can provide an improvement,” an NPL announcement said.

With hundreds of companies selling different materials labelled as ‘graphene’, and manufacturing it in different ways, end users who want to improve their products by incorporating few-layer graphene flakes are unable to compare and subsequently select the right material, the NPL said.

“Through standardised methods to enable the reliable and repeatable measurement of properties, such as the lateral flake size, flake thickness, level of disorder and specific surface area, industry will be able to compare the many materials available and instil trust in the supply chain,” the announcement said. Along with the international ISO/IEC terminology standard led by NPL, ISO/TS 80004-13:2017, it will be possible for commercially available material to be correctly measured and labelled as graphene, few-layer graphene or graphite.

NPL standardisation work will allow the chemical properties of graphene-related 2D materials to be determined, as well as the structural properties of different forms of graphene, such as CVD-grown graphene.

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, said: “Standardisation is crucial for the commercialisation of graphene in many different applications such as construction, water filtration, energy storage and aerospace. Through this international measurement standard, companies in the UK and beyond will be able to accelerate the uptake of this 21st century material, now entering many significant markets.”

The work was described in Nature Reviews Physics.

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