U.K. Companies Team Up to Develop Graphene Sensor

A typical structure of a graphene field effect transistor based on Si/SiO2 at a molecular level with a graphene sheet as the sensing element. Image courtesy of TWI Ltd.

A consortium of several United Kingdom-based research and technology organizations was awarded a £1.3 million ($1.68 million) grant for its Graphosite project by Innovate UK (Swindon, UK). The goal of the project is to develop a graphene sensor that detects defects and predicts maintenance issues in composite materials either during the manufacturing process or during the normal service life of a component.

The six partners in the project are ADVISE-DETA (Bedford, UK), Brunel University London (Uxbridge, UK), Cambridge Nanomaterials Technology Ltd. (Cambridge, UK), DZP Technologies (Cambridge, UK), Haydale (Ammanford, UK), and The Welding Institute (TWI) Ltd. (Cambridge, UK). ADVISE-DETA serves as Graphosite project coordinator, while Brunel University London’s involvement is through the Brunel Composites Innovation Centre (Cambridge, UK).

The graphene sensor currently in development will feature increased sensitivity and high flexibility due to the presence of graphene. This technology will be based on an enhanced graphene-substrate interaction, including the ability to embed within a composite structure. In addition, the sensor will address two key issues for non-destructive techniques: the measurement of the defect in one direction and the inability to detect failure unless it’s placed on a particular surface.

The Graphosite project is intended to have a broad range of applications for detecting manufacturing defects in composites for the aviation, automotive, and marine industries, as well as in civil structures. According to Sofia Sampethai, project leader for TWI, “Graphosite is an amazing opportunity to develop a sensor that will target the detection limit in composites manufacturing, and this will be achieved by using graphene as the sensing element.  The project’s ultimate goal is to produce a sensor with a substantially better gauge factor for the market than the existing strain gauges which are currently available.”

Graphosite is a 30-month project that began in August 2018 and is expected to end in January 2021. For more information, visit the Graphosite website.

Source: TWI Ltd, www.twi-global.com.