Guest blog: New pioneering applications star in Wonder Materials exhibition
The Wonder Materials: Graphene and Beyond exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester has been open for just over six months. Over that time, we’ve had an incredible 80000 visitors. People have described the exhibition as inspiring, fun, and informative. This is great, but we know that there are ways we can make the exhibition even better.
One of the things visitors told us was that they’d like to see some real examples of applications for graphene. We listened, and we have now added an exciting new display which showcases eight examples of products and demonstrators. I curated the content for this new display, a brand new section called ‘From now to the future: pioneering applications.’
There are two new display cases, one focussing on items that represent the ways graphene could find its way into our homes, and the other looking at how graphene can help us to use less energy and reduce environmental impact. Every object has a fantastic story and points to an area where graphene could transform our technology for a more sustainable future.
The University of Manchester worked with us on developing the exhibition, and have contributed three items for this new display. The graphene light bulb developed by Graphene Lighting plc was the first item I identified for the display. It is instantly recognisable to our visitors, and I’m delighted we can feature the first commercial application of graphene to emerge from the UK.
Another highlight is the set of condom test prototypes with different amounts of graphene added, donated by Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan and Dr. Maria Iliut. The samples show visitors that a little graphene makes a big difference. Adding just 0.05% and 0.1% by weight of graphene makes the condom material stronger and more elastic, which could lead to thinner and safer condoms.
The industrial fastener is a great example of collaboration leading to industrial applications for graphene. It was manufactured by Rotite Technologies Ltd and Graphene Enabled Systems Ltd at The University of Manchester and demonstrates the fact that added to plastics, graphene can make things stronger, more durable and thermally and electrically conductive. Adding graphene has made these industrial fasteners stronger, smaller and lighter.
A flexible electro-luminescent display made using printable graphene ink, some graphene-enhanced 3D printing filament, and a printed graphene biosensor were donated by Haydale Ltd. A sample of water filtration membrane enhanced with a graphene oxide coating was donated by G2O Water Technologies Ltd, and Imagine Intelligent Materials Pty Ltd donated a sample of their geotextile with imgne X3® graphene-based coating for sensing and reporting real-time changes in stress, temperature and moisture.
There were other exciting applications I’d love to have included, but it wasn’t possible to include them all. However, this selection gives a great cross section of the areas where graphene is pushing through into real-world products that could help address some of the global challenges we face.