30 researchers dedicated to the transfer in the production fabric of the new technologies based on two-dimensional materials.
With a starting investment of € 3 million, the first nucleus of Graphene Labs, the laboratories of graphene, have been made at the IIT in Genoa. It is one of the main infrastructure at international level dedicated to the development of graphene and other two-dimensional materials. The investment – which is expected to grow in the next years - is meant to transfer the new graphene-based technology to the productive system. The Graphene Labs, coordinated by Vittorio Pellegrini, aim at being a shared facility for the Italian manufacturing firms interested in the production of graphene and other two-dimensional crystals and in the realization of a new class of stronger and lighter composite materials.
The IIT’s Graphene Labs involve about 30 people including scientists, engineers and students, and a structure dedicated to technology transfer. The lab facility includes systems for the production of graphene inks, industrial machines for the growth of the material on metal and silicon-based substrates, systems for the deposition of large-scale graphene films and the most advanced and sophisticated instruments for its analysis.
The laboratory has already attracted a group of companies operating in Italy - Thales, Solvay, Dyers, Directa Plus, Tiberlabs, Momo Design, Gewiss, Nokia, Baldasari Cavi - which are developing prototypes. The idea at the basis of Graphene Labs is to make graphene – currently used mainly for sophisticated and high costs productions - a low-cost product suitable for the development of the manufacture for wide consumption.
The IIT’s technology aims at developing graphene inks and other two-dimensional crystals suitable for 2D and 3D printing, and which can be easily integrated with other materials.
The properties of graphene - strength, lightness, flexibility, high electrical conductivity and heat, scratch-resistant and anti-bacterial properties, biocompatibility – can be put into a large part of the current manufacturing processes, by multiplying their potential and functionality, with a low cost and without sacrificing performance. In particular, the applications are in the field of composite materials, where the graphene is integrated both with other polymers (polystyrene and also biodegradable plastics, as one of the recent patents IIT) in order to produce insulating materials for buildings, with metals for applications in traditional electronics (battery and flexible displays) and organic, and even with carbon fiber and kevlar to get strong and lightweight structures (useful in the automotive, aerospace as well as clothing and technical equipment).