Materials World October 2020

MXenes, graphene, 2D inks, additive manufacturing, plus others are the oft-lauded face of the future with transformative capabilities and properties for many industries. Every day, the Materials World team receives news from across the world about advances in these fields. We could probably fill several issues of the magazine with these stories. In this issue, we go beyond the hype and delve behind the scenes into the significant efforts to elevate these technologies from the lab into practical applications. 

The challenges faced are acknowledged on p33 by the team from Applied Graphene Materials (AGM) in Redcar, UK – a spin-out company from the University of Durham. They note that ‘the practical aspects of handling such a material and making it relevant for real life mean that alternate forms of the product offer perhaps a more practical solution to near-term application and commercialisation’.

AGM Founder Professor Karl Coleman adds, ‘Given the unsurpassed properties of graphene…perhaps the community was too quick to embark on a quest for a so-called “killer” application that was unique to graphene…What we are seeing now is that the over-inflated expectations have dissipated and the benefits from graphene as an additive in many different areas, particularly coatings and composites, can be seen’.

This pragmatic approach is echoed in work from the Vienna University of Technology, Austria, to achieve heterostructure integration of 2D materials with other materials (p36). 

But we are also reminded that there’s a world beyond graphene. Our feature focus on p20 explores how MXenes – 2D transition metal carbides and nitrides – are making their mark. So, it seems the playing field is wide open. And in these uncertain times, it is prudent to take stock of some sage advice on p42 on how advanced materials innovators can future-proof their businesses. I hope you enjoy this issue. We wish you all good health. 

Rupal Mehta, Editor

News this issue:

An alkaline hydrogel could heal wounds

Increasing the ductility of aluminium through wire arc additive manufacturing

How manufacturing and recycling of aluminium can be improved

Local soil for local people – 3D printing houses

Turning the humble brick into an energy storing device

Fruit peel can help in the mission to recycle spent batteries

Janus particles can offer a range of improvements in standard paints

Get talking – To save the planet, we must understand it

Patent of the month – ionic conducting compositions for energy storage devices

Cracking the crud problem in nuclear reactors

Immobilising the UK’s plutonium stockpile

Electrifying mining

Raising the roof with wooden architecture