Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


‘Small’ research at MSU leads to advances in energy, electronics

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. (, 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.


Could be used to make lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft and car parts, and stronger wind turbines, medical implants and sports equipment.
Is a good electrical conductor attractive for lithium ion batteries and could be used to make transparent conductive coatings for solar cells and displays.
Can make gasoline tanks lightweight and leak tight and plastic containers that keep food fresh for weeks.

Drzal and his partners (former students Hiroyuki Fukushima, Inhwan Do and XG Sciences CEO Mike Knox) are already looking ahead to more uses for the product – like recyclable, economical or lightweight units to store hydrogen for the next generation of fuel cell-powered autos.

“Now that we know how to make this material and how to modify it so that it can be utilized in plastics,” he said, “our attention is being directed to high-end applications where we can really make some substantial changes in the way electronics, fuel cells, batteries and solar cells perform as a result of using this material.

“As an engineer we do research with an eye on not only understanding the fundamentals of how things work, but also on coming up with solutions to solve important problems facing the world we live in,” Drzal said.

“This project goes beyond doing research and publishing papers. It appears to have made the transition from a laboratory curiosity to a commercial product and simultaneously has helped create a spinoff company to increase the economic viability of Michigan.”

Russ White | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>