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Single-atom thin magnet draws closer

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Scientists in the US have developed a one-atom thin 2D magnet that they propose could lead to significant advances in next-generation memory devices, computing, spintronics and quantum physics.

The discovery was made by the team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Berkeley, California, after researchers overcame technical barriers to create a chemically stable 2D-magnet-based nanodevice. They claim it can operate at room temperature in air, or even higher at 100°C.  

The magnetic component of memory devices is typically made of thin films that are still 3D at the atomic level. A thinner and smaller 2D magnet would enable users to store data at a much higher density.

‘A major challenge is to find a material that has magnetism at a higher temperature while being chemically stable at the same time,’ explains Jie Yao, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley. ‘Most existing 2D magnets only show magnetism at low temperatures and are not that stable in air.’

Taking conventional 3D magnetic oxide materials as their inspiration, the researchers have used a solution of graphene oxide, zinc and cobalt and synthesised them to create a cobalt-doped van der Waals zinc oxide magnet.

Yao says, ‘We utilised graphene oxide as a template. Graphene oxide itself is a layered 2D material. It allows the formation of zinc oxide 2D sheets to form in the gap between the graphene oxide layers.’ The team originally dispersed various atoms in zinc oxide to introduce magnetism but the process was unsuccessful. After discovering that cobalt works in 2D zinc oxide, they have tested different concentrations and have found 12% gives the best performance.

The mixture is baked in a conventional lab oven to create a single atomic layer of zinc oxide, with the cobalt atoms filling the gaps between the graphene layers. After the graphene is burnt away, the scientists are left with a single atomic layer of cobalt-doped zinc-oxide.

Yao adds, ‘We are using a totally different material platform, in which magnetic atoms are introduced through a chemical doping method. The interactions between the magnetic atoms are also different from those existing 2D magnetic materials, which enables substantially improved magnetic performance, including high temperature magnetism, chemical stability, wide range of tunability, and so on.’

To confirm the material is one-atom thin, the team has undertaken advanced characterisation using atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy to identify its morphology, as well as transmission electron microscopy imaging to probe the material atom-by-atom. The researchers claim the discovery opens new avenues to study quantum physics.

‘We are taking advantage of the alternately stacked zinc-cobalt-oxide/graphene layers, so that zinc-cobalt-oxide can keep its 2D form and the total mass load is enhanced. Then, the characterisations are made easier,’ notes Yao.

‘Understanding the fundamental mechanism will help us to identify other excellent 2D magnets. Also, it will offer us new clues on how to improve the performance of 2D magnets.’

Yao explains that the magnet’s layered quality enables growth at the material’s edges. He adds that because zinc oxide can be directly grown on silicon substrates, the material is highly compatible with current complementary metal-oxide semiconductor technologies. These two factors mean the ultra-thin 2D magnet could be scaled up and at a lower cost.

‘There is no fundamental limitation to the size of the zinc oxide layer that can grow on a silicon wafer, which allows the scaling of lateral sizes by conventional techniques.’

Tags:  Graphene  Jie Yao  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory  University of Berkeley California 

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#TechTuesday: Grapheal TestNPass for COVID-19 detection

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Welcome to our #TechTuesday series! These articles will introduce some of the latest graphene-enabled products, pioneered and commercialised by different companies within the Graphene Flagship project. Today, we unveil Grapheal's TestNpass, a digital biosensor for the antigenic detection of SARS-CoV-2.

COVID-19 is an unprecedented health crisis. Current field-testing solutions for the coronavirus don’t connect seamlessly to a reliable and tamperproof digital health pass, nor can they guarantee personal data protection. We need a more trustworthy high-flow solution to validate peoples’ health, given the interconnectedness of global travel, and today’s global economy.

We could accelerate our return to normal life, if we had a screen test that could be used anywhere, by anybody, securely and safely, seamlessly connected to a digital pass.

Our mission is to build a new generation of digital biosensors to remotely diagnose and monitor patients. To do this, we exploit graphene’s uniquely high electrical conductivity to detect biomolecules at a low level, without needing the biomolecular signal to be amplified.

We are introducing Grapheal’s new product, TestNpass: a digital biosensor for the antigenic detection of SARS-CoV-2, coupled to a standalone digital health pass on a free smartphone app.

TestNpass digitises biochemical signals from the virus directly on a chip within 5 minutes from a saliva or nasal swab, using our free smartphone app and contactless near-field (NFC) communication.

TestNpass seamlessly combines a fast digtal COVID-19 test with an autonomous digital health ‘pass.’ The free smartphone app integrates a secure biometric identifier to anonymously identify users on-site. The digital health pass consists of the user’s test result, and their encrypted facial recognition data. Contactless RFID technology, combined with the free app, allow for the health ‘pass’ to be read and interpreted without sharing data over the internet.

TestNpass is easy to implement anywhere, and has no need for dedicated equipment, as it just needs a smartphone or a standard NFC device. It doesn’t need trained medical staff and can be used alone as a self-test. It doesn’t store or share any data, as all information isencrypted into a standalone RFID tag.

We designed TestNpass to empower people with a standalone COVID-19 test, while preserving their data and privacy. It provides organisations with a trustworthy, easy-to-deploy tool to screen large populations for pathogens, and it can support airports and airlines, cruises and ships, gathering places and more, for any venue that needs a tamper-proof COVID-19 testing solution, without storing data.

These new graphene-based digital biosensors will accelerate our return to normality with a simple, efficient solution to screen passengers, spectators, participants, customers and workers, respecting their privacy.

Tags:  Biosensor  COVID-19  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  Healthcare  TestNpass 

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Applied Graphene Materials Full Year Presentation and Audiocast 2021

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Full year results presentation and audiocast available below

2021 Full year presentation PDF

Tags:  Applied Graphene Materials  Graphene 

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Pablo Jarillo-Herrero receives Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics at MIT, has received the 2021 Max Planck-Humboldt Research Award from the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his work on two-dimensional quantum materials.

In 2018, Jarillo-Herrero’s research group discovered that by rotating two layers of graphene by a “magic angle,” the bilayer material can be turned from a metal into an electrical insulator or even a superconductor.

Max Planck Society President Martin Stratmann noted Jarillo-Herrero’s research on two-dimensional quantum materials has “opened up a new field of research in which many fundamental insights for both quantum science and quantum technology can be expected.”  

Hans-Christian Pape, president of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, said that this research “has the potential to make electronic components more efficient and computers faster and to increase the superconductivity of materials.”

The Max Planck Humboldt Research Award provides 1.5 million euros (about $1.8 million) to enable a five-year collaboration between scientists from German and international research institutions.

Jarillo-Herrero says his research project, based at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research and the University of Stuttgart, will create and investigate novel moiré layer systems. For example, he will develop tuning knobs that can be used to control their properties and will create a technique that allows live tracking of how the angle between two superimposed layers affects their electronic properties.

Some of the quantum materials that Jarillo-Herrero is researching rely on the moiré effect created by a honeycomb pattern created by atoms within two superimposed layers of graphene or similar substances. Twisting the layers against each other creates new patterns; rotating the layers together changes optical patterns and physical properties. In addition, his discovery of the first two-dimensional magnet is leading to other advancements in magnetic research and superconductivity.

Potential applications include improvements in magnetic resonance tomography in medical applications, logical operations in quantum computers, and energy efficiency in electronics.

“Quantum technologies, in particular, have enormous potential for the economy and our society — and we want to tap into that,” says Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. “This is why we are particularly pleased about this cross-border cooperation in cutting-edge research.”

Jarillo-Herrero is a professor in the MIT Department of Physics and a native of Spain. He earned his PhD at the Delft University of Technology and completed a postdoc at Columbia University before joining MIT in 2008. He also spent several summers in Germany while studying theoretical physics as a University of Valencia undergraduate.

“I feel really honored to have received this prestigious award by the Max Planck Society and Humboldt Foundation,” says Jarillo-Herrero, who previously earned the APS Oliver E. Buckley Prize and the Wolf Prize in Physics. “One could say I started my scientific career in Germany. So I have very fond memories of my time there, and I am looking forward to interacting and collaborating closely with my colleagues in Stuttgart and elsewhere in Germany.”

Due to coronavirus precautions, this year’s awards will be presented Nov. 3, 2022, in Berlin.

Tags:  Alexander von Humboldt Foundation  Graphene  Martin Stratmann  Massachusetts Institute of Technology  Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research  Pablo Jarillo-Herrero  superconductor  University of Stuttgart 

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Versarien plc - Appointment of Non-executive Chairman

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The Board of Versarien announces that James Stewart CBE will retire as Non-executive Chairman on 31 December 2021 and Diane Savory OBE DL will be appointed as the Company's new Non-executive Chairman on 1 January 2022. As part of the transition process, Ms Savory will attend monthly Board meetings until formally taking office.

James Stewart was appointed to the Board in June 2020 with a particular focus on assisting with expansion in the Far East. Since his appointment, the Company has completed its acquisition of the CVD assets and IP from Hanwha Aerospace in South Korea. With macro events shifting the Company's focus away from China, James now wishes to concentrate on his private portfolio of UK and Far East investments, but will continue to assist Versarien with its global expansion plans, as appropriate, through his advisory firm Menlo Partners LLP.

Diane Savory has, until recently, served as Chair at GFirst LEP (Gloucestershire). She is a member of the Retail Sector Council at the Department of Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills and worked at Superdry Plc for a total of 22 years, including as a main board director, during which time it grew from an SME to a London Stock Exchange Main Market listed company. Diane's experience is allied to particular elements of the Company's GSCALE project.

Commenting, James Stewart, said:

"I am very pleased that the Board is appointing Diane as my successor. Her history of working at Superdry during a period of accelerated global growth, her experience as Chair at GFirst and her government connections provides excellent experience for this appointment. It has been a pleasure to serve as Non-executive Chairman of Versarien and I wish Diane and the Company every success for the future."

Commenting, Diane Savory, said:

"I am delighted to accept the appointment as James' successor at such an exciting time for the business. As the graphene world begins to gain commercial traction our portfolio of graphene products and global footprint, supported by the UK Government, will allow Versarien to play a key role in bringing advanced materials to the commercial and consumer markets. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank James for his leadership and commitment."

Commenting, Neill Ricketts, CEO, said:

"Having worked with Diane at GFirst I am confident that her experience will be invaluable to Versarien as we focus on our objectives of achieving commercial traction and sustainable shareholder returns, whilst also focussing on the benefits graphene can bring to the environment."

Further information on Diane Savory

Diane Rebecca Wendy Hill (known as Savory), aged 60, has been a director of the following companies within the last five years:

Ms Savory does not hold any ordinary shares in the Company.

Save as disclosed above, there are no additional disclosures to be made in accordance with Rule 17 or Schedule Two paragraph (g) of the AIM Rules for Companies.

Tags:  Diane Savory  Graphene  James Stewart  Neill Ricketts  Versarien 

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Using graphene and 2D materials to desalinate sea water

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 13, 2021
To mark World Water Day 2021, Dr Premlal Balakrishna Pillai, Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Associate and Rahul Nair, Professor of Materials Physics, discuss how the University is using advanced materials to desalinate sea water.

One billion people across the globe currently lack regular access to safe drinking water and more than half of the world’s population may be facing a water crisis by 2050. 

One solution is to produce fresh water from our oceans (which cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface) by removing the dissolved salt, a process known as desalination. However, exorbitant operational costs and daunting environmental challenges, such as safe disposal of the waste produced, leave ocean desalination a futile option. 

Advanced materials, such as graphene and other 2D materials, have enabled us to create the next generation of desalination membranes because of their unique water transport properties.

Affordable solutions

Analysis of desalination plants by geographic region reveals that most of the desalination facilities (>67% of total) are located in high-income countries and only a negligible proportion (0.33%) are in low-income countries.

At The University of Manchester, we’re working with industrial partner LifeSaver®, a UK-based manufacturer of portable and reusable water filtration systems, to create portable water filters. These have significant potential to help communities facing water shortage due to industrial and biological pollution to local water resources. 

We want to make a global impact with our affordable safe drinking water solutions, especially in the most water-stressed countries such as India, Brazil, Singapore, and those in the Middle East. 

Developing next-generation desalination applications

Our mission is to develop high-permeance, self-cleaning desalination and nanofiltration membranes using graphene and other 2D materials, and unveil transformative technologies in water purification and beyond.

With the growing impact of climate change on modern cities' water supplies, the demand for sustainable and low-cost water purification technologies is evident. 2D materials-based membranes offer cutting-edge solutions to enhance the quality and availability of drinking water for those who need it most. We’re developing graphene-based membrane technology for desalination applications with various industrial partners.

With the substantial potential to reduce the energy budget and improve biofouling and chlorine resistance, the graphene-based membrane technology supports the UK’s commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 80% by 2050.

Transformative technology

Currently our focus is on transferring the technology from lab to market by working closely with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), which is dedicated to the fast-tracking of pilot research and innovations around graphene and other 2D materials. 

Our activities support the UK vision of developing affordable desalination technology and setting up smaller desalination units to meet the growing water demand in regions facing severe scarcity.

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Premlal Balakrishna Pillai  Rahul Nair  University of Manchester 

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Roller disco vs climate change: how graphene is transforming the construction industry

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Manchester’s Mayfield regeneration scheme made history on 12 October 2021, as the location of a pioneering piece of structural engineering, using a new, low-emissions concrete - developed by Nationwide Engineering and The University of Manchester - that has the potential to transform the global construction sector.

Concretene uses graphene – the revolutionary 2D material discovered in Manchester – to significantly improve the mechanical performance of concrete, allowing for reductions in the amount of material used and the need for steel reinforcement. This can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30% and drive down costs, meaning Concretene is both greener and cheaper for developers.

At Mayfield, it has been used to create a new 54x14-metre mezzanine floor, which will become a roller disco at the popular Escape to Freight Island attraction in Mayfield’s vast site, a former railway depot.

The installation is the first ever commercial use of Concretene in a suspended slab and marks an important step towards testing and developing it as a widely-used building material, allowing it to be used as a substitute for concrete on an industrial scale.

The Concretene pour builds on Manchester’s reputation as a city of world-leading innovations dating back to the Industrial Revolution, and reinforces Mayfield’s return to prominence in the city amid a £1.5bn regeneration project.

MEN: The 'secret sauce' made in Manchester that could change an industry - and the planet
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The material has been developed by the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) and Nationwide Engineering, an innovative company co-founded by a former University of Manchester civil engineering graduate, Alex McDermott.

“This is a huge milestone for the team, as not only is this our first commercial, third-party use of Concretene, but also the first suspended slab as used in high-rise developments.”

“As world leaders in graphene-enhanced concrete technology, the interest from the international building industry has been beyond expectations, as looming legislation is forcing significant carbon reductions throughout construction.”

“Our partnership with the University has fast-tracked the development of Concretene, going from lab to product in 18 months,” added Nationwide Engineering co-founder Rob Hibberd.

Less material, less time

Concretene has great potential to address the construction industry’s need to lower emissions, by reducing the amount of concrete required in construction projects by as much as 30%. It also offers efficiency savings by slashing drying time. Pours of Concretene to date have achieved the equivalent of 28-day strength in just 12 hours.

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester at the University, said: “We’re delighted to play a part in this exciting project at Mayfield, showcasing how our research can translate into real-world outcomes for sustainability that can be adopted by business and make a major contribution to the city region’s ambitions for net-zero by 2038.

“This Manchester-based technology can also contribute to levelling up by positioning our region as a global R&D centre for sustainable materials for the construction industry – attracting investment, creating new businesses and offering high-wage jobs.”

Arlene van Bosch, Development Director, U+I, added: “Our ambition is for Mayfield to become an exemplar sustainable neighbourhood, where people and planet come first. Innovations such as the use of Concretene are central to realising our vision – we want to push the boundaries of design and construction to create the most environmentally-friendly place possible.

“It’s been brilliant to collaborate with Nationwide Engineering, the GEIC and our partners at Broadwick Live and Escape to Freight Island, who are doing an amazing job of making Mayfield the beating heart of Manchester’s cultural life.”

The pour of the suspended slab at Mayfield marks a significant step towards testing and developing Concretene as a widely-used building material, allowing it to be used as a substitute for concrete on an industrial scale. Graphene for the pour at Mayfield was provided by Versarien, a Tier 1 partner of the GEIC.

Leading cause of emissions

Production of cement for concrete is one of the leading causes of global CO2 emissions, producing around 8% of total global emissions.

Most commonly, graphene is a material extracted from graphite but it can be derived from many different products, including recycled plastics or biomass. This makes Concretene a game-changer in the race to lower the industry’s whole-life carbon footprint.

The use of graphene in concrete produces 6.3kg of CO2 per tonne of concrete – a 21.94kg reduction per tonne compared to traditional steel reinforcement. The total estimated reduction in CO2 emissions for this floor slab compared to a traditional concrete solution is 4,265kg.

Tags:  2D Materials  Alex McDermott  Graphene  James Baker  Nationwide Engineering  Rob Hibberd  University of Manchester  Versarien 

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New £2m equipment will help physicists unlock the potential of next-generation 2D materials

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Loughborough University has received a £2m Strategic Equipment Award from EPSRC to invest in a new state-of-art ‘thin film’ equipment – the first of its kind in the UK.

The new hardware will allow physicists in the School of Science to rapidly develop cutting-edge functional nanodevices that use 2D materials such as graphene, metal dichalcogenides and borophene.

Scientists will be able to create nanometre-sized structures for use in electronic circuits and chips, such as those found in computers, phones and tablets without the need for a cleanroom.

Next-generation 2D materials have distinctive potential and significance due to their unique electric, magnetic, optical and thermal properties – making them very different to bulk materials, which are influenced by physical properties rather than surface area.

The new multichambered system is comprised of a glovebox – a sealed transparent container for preparing air-sensitive samples – attached to three or more ultra-high vacuum chambers. The inclusion of a unique lithography tool – the NanoFrazor Scholar from Heidelberg Instruments – will enable in-situ patterning of air-sensitive materials – a system that does not exist in the UK yet.

It will help scientists to gain a unique understanding of the properties of 2D materials incorporate them in advanced functional devices for new innovative technologies, such as emerging quantum technologies or advanced solar and thermoelectric energy harvesting devices.

Future research could also lead to radical innovation in artificially nanoengineered interfaces.

One of the co-investigators on the grant, Dr Pavel Borisov, of the School of Science, said: “We plan to use thin films of 2D materials to design novel, nanometre-sized resistors and capacitors that can mimic the way how neural cells operate in the mammal brain, for example by changing their resistance and capacitance values after being exposed to series of electric voltage pulses.

“The artificial electronic analogues, the so-called neuromorphics, are very promising for the next generation of electronic devices for artificial intelligence applications and would allow energy-efficient operation of neural networks.”

Professor Kelly Morrison, also of the School of Science, said: “It’s exciting to imagine the new physics that we will be able to explore with this equipment, such as the development of 2D metamaterials that would revolutionise Terahertz photonics or the next generation of computing.”

The equipment is expected to arrive at the University towards the end of 2022.

Tags:  2D Materials  Dr Pavel Borisov  Graphene  Loughborough University 

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AMD boosts Advisory Panel with the addition of world leading academic

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Monday, October 11, 2021
AMD is excited to announce that with immediate effect Professor Paul Sellin will join the academic membership of its Advisory Panel.

Paul Sellin received his PhD in Nuclear Physics from University of Edinburgh (UK) in 1992 in the field of semiconductor nuclear detectors.

Paul’s current research interests at the University of Surrey include the development and characterisation of radiation detectors and detector materials for applications in nuclear physics, medical imaging, and security detection. His research group focuses on the characterisation and development of new detector materials, including plastic and organic scintillators for mixed field neutron/gamma detection, including digital instrumentation and SiPM readout for neutron/gamma sensitive scintillators.

John Lee, CEO of AMD, said: "I am absolutely delighted to have another academic of Paul’s calibre join AMD to support our work across fields of sensing imaging and detection systems. Paul already provides support on our work programme under the Future Leaders Fellowship fund and has worked closely with our Chief Scientific Officer Dr Izabela Jurewicz for several years. This addition will dramatically ramp our capability in these important areas.”

Professor Sellin said: "I’m looking forward to working with AMD in the exciting area of nanomaterial sensors. Our mutual interest in developing nanomaterials for applications in radiation sensing is a fast-developing area of research, with many exciting organic and nanoparticle materials showing great potential for radiation detection applications in application areas such as medical and security imaging.”

Tags:  Advanced Material Development  Graphene  John Lee  Paul Sellin  University of Surrey 

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CABLE Conductor Manufacturing Prize Announces Stage 1 Winners

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Monday, October 11, 2021
To transition to a clean energy economy, we must rewire the future of electricity. And the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is asking researchers and innovators to do just that.

Today, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced 10 teams as Stage 1 winners of the Conductivity-enhanced materials for Affordable, Breakthrough Leapfrog Electric and thermal applications (CABLE) Conductor Manufacturing Prize, run by DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. During this $4.5 million, three-stage prize, teams compete to design and make conductivity-enhanced materials and propose ways to apply these materials to help upgrade and expand aging electric and transportation infrastructures in the United States. Their novel designs could help lower costs and improve grid performance—including during extreme weather events.

In Stage 1, which launched in March 2021 and concluded in August 2021, teams submitted breakthrough concepts for more conductive (and affordable) materials that could be used for both electrical and thermal (heat-based) energy applications. Now, with Stage 1 complete, 10 teams and their early-stage concepts have each earned a $25,000 cash prize and a stipend to support third-party testing in Stage 2, when they must manufacture a microscale sample of their material.

Team NAECO from Peachtree City, Georgia, submitted their entry for Conductivity Enhanced Alloys with Nano Additives, which involves first mixing copper with trace amounts of additives before combining it with graphene using solid phase processing.

MetalKraft Technologies in Athens, Ohio, with members from Lehigh University, is also using solid phase processing to create Copper-Graphene Ultra Wire with small amounts of commercially available low-defect crystalline graphene.

In Niskayuna, New York, the GE Research team will use Electron Beam Melting Additive Manufacturing of Ultra-Conductive Components to fabricate a nano-carbon-metal composite from copper and low-cost graphite powder, carbon black, or possibly higher-cost nanostructured carbon.

VT Materials in Blacksburg, Virginia, submitted their entry for an Enhanced Conductivity Overhead (ECO) Wire made from aluminum (potentially from recycled wires), graphene, and other nano additives.

Tags:  Graphene  Lehigh University  MetalKraft Technologies  U.S. Department of Energy 

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