Page 50 - Packaging News Magazine Nov-Dec 2018
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50 MATERIALS UPDATE November-December 2018
Graphene: packaging’s new
As packaging gets more high-tech, it’s not just the machines that are evolving. Materials are racing to the cutting edge as well, and they don’t get much more edgy than graphene. Jake Nelson examines this new ultra-thin super-material and what it could do for the packaging world.
GGRAPHENE, a carbon allotrope consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, is the thin- nest and most electrically con- ductive material ever devel- oped. It has a vast range of potential commercial applica-
tions, according to Chris Gilbey OAM, chair of the Australian Gra- phene Industry Association (AGIA).
“Graphene has the capacity to change the face of almost every man- ufacturing industry in the world – from electronics and renewable en- ergy to water treatment, construction and aerospace engineering. It will be
at the heart of Industry 4.0,” he says. Graphene has a number of ‘super’ qualities which make it an important ingredient material, says Gilbey. “Gra- phene is the strongest material ever tested, yet it’s flexible. It’s the most electrically and thermally conductive material. It is impervious to all gases. It is extraordinarily hydrophobic. Be- cause it is only one atom thick it is
nearly transparent,” he says.
The nanomaterial has plenty of
properties that make it appealing to packagers, according to Phillip Aitchi- son, vice-president of research and de- velopment at graphene manufacturer Imagine Intelligent Materials. “You
Forward looking: Phillip Aitchison, VP R&D at graphene manufacturer Imagine Intelligent Materials.
could make a thin, flexible, strong and high-barrier package. That’d be the holy grail,” he says. “You can cut down your total cost of materials by replacing plastics and metals, and get a better product. That’s why packagers get so excited about it, because there are so many potential benefits.”
He cautions, however, that the the- oretical single-atom-thickness hex- agonal graphene is very difficult to manufacture, and that there are many different types of graphene that serve different purposes. “The reality is that you only ever get it in small pieces. It’s hard to make a sheet of it that can cover a whole bot-
Graphene nano material processing.

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