A Michigan State University researcher and his students have developed a nanomaterial that makes plastic stiffer, lighter and stronger and could result in more fuel-efficient airplanes and cars as well as more durable medical and sports equipment.
The material xGnP Exfoliated Graphite NanoPlatelets will be instrumental in the development of new and expanded applications in the aerospace, automotive and packaging industries, said Lawrence Drzal, University Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU and director of MSU's Composite Materials and Structure Center.
Drzal led the research group that developed the product, which is considered to be a practical, inexpensive material that has a unique set of physical, chemical and morphological attributes. The nanoscale material, which is electrically and thermally conductive, has reduced flammability and barrier properties, he said.
The graphene nanoparticles are being manufactured by a new startup company, XG Sciences Inc. (www.xgsciences.com), located in mid-Michigan and a spinoff from intellectual property owned by MSU. XG Sciences has an exclusive license to manufacture this material.
"XGnP can either be used as an additive to plastics or by itself it can make a transformational change in the performance of many advanced electronic and energy devices," Drzal said. "It can do so because it's a nanoparticle with a unique shape made from environmentally benign carbon, and it can be made at a very reasonable cost."
The key to the new material's capabilities is a fast and inexpensive process for separating layers of graphite (graphene) into stacks less than 10 nanometers in thickness but with lateral dimensions anywhere from 500 nm to tens of microns, coupled with the ability to tailor the particle surface chemistry to make it compatible with water, resin or plastic systems.
|Contact: Russ White|
Michigan State University