While researchers hoping to make graphene a serious contender to silicon’s electronic throne have some work still ahead of them, the material is finding more immediate application in other industrial areas.
(This is probably the materials science version of waiting tables while auditioning for film roles in your spare time.)
According to researchers at the University of Buffalo, graphene makes a handy and effective rust proof coating. It also has the added benefit of being rather less toxic than the key ingredient currently favoured for the job – hexavalent chromium.
Details of the recipe for the coating are being kept under wraps while the University’s tech transfer wing applies for patent protection, but the researchers report that steel coated with their graphene-infused varnish remains rust free after being immersed in salt-water for a month.
Assistant professor Sarbajit Banerjee said that graphene’s hydrophobic and conductive properties probably help to prevent corrosion by repelling water and cutting short the oxidation reactions that turn iron to rust.
You can watch an interview with PhD student Robert Dennis here.