Published on 20 December 2023
The international collaboration between the University of Sunderland’s School of Engineering and the University of Brasilia’s Chemistry Department, was funded by a £6k Newton Mobility Grant, through the Royal Society and the Newton Fund.
Dr Panagiotis Karagiannidis, an Associate Professor at Sunderland, visited Brazil and shared his extensive research, gathered over the last 10 years in the area of 2D materials. He also provided training to the team of researchers.
Graphene is a material derived from graphite and is made up from a single layer of carbon atoms, which is stronger than diamond, lightweight and flexible. Due to its benefits such as improved strength, dimensional stability, and superior durability it’s being looked at in multiple industries.
The research project looked at ways to produce graphene, exfoliating the material using a solution, which combines a naturally produced additive with the aid of magnetic nanoparticles and ultrasonification. Researchers say it’s a more sustainable and cheaper way to exfoliate graphite into graphene.
Panagiotis said: “In our research, magnetic nanoparticles were combined with gum arabic which is a much cheaper and environmentally friendly material. The research identified the optimum processing conditions to produce high-quality graphene/magnetic nanoparticles hybrid material yielding a magnetically manipulable solution. This opens opportunities for applications in various sectors such as smart coatings, catalysis, magnetic hyperthermia, supercapacitors etc."
The team is now awaiting the outcome of a £224k funding application to the Royal Society to continue the work over the next three years. This will involve three academics from Sunderland, across both the Engineering and Pharmacy departments, as well as three scientists from The University of Brasilia.
Panagiotis says: “The consortium consisted of academics of complementary expertise. This is an excellent opportunity for knowledge exchange and a long-term collaboration between the two institutions that can lead to real impact.”
He added: “This new project aims to develop new composite materials based on biopolymer matrices reinforced with natural reinforcing agents (e.g. natural fibres) that are found in Brazil and haven’t been explored yet.”