Saint Jean Carbon has completed an initial phase of research and development (R&D) work on the development of superconducting graphene
The work program has proceeded over the past six months and was recently supported by receipt of a NSERC grant (National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).
The result of the work has produced graphene that possibly may have magnetic properties; Magnetic properties are what is needed if the material is used in superconducting applications. This is believed to be a first.
The encouraging result is just the very first step with many more tests to complete. Hopefully, this puts the project on the path towards the development of a low-temperature superconductor that leverages key properties of graphene.
Superconductivity is defined as a quantum mechanical phenomenon that offers the potential for zero electrical resistance.
The ability to operate with no electrical resistance at or near room temperature holds significant potential in a wide range of product and technology applications. This include high-performance smart grids, electric power transmission, transformers, power storage devices, electric motors used in vehicle propulsion as in maglev trains, magnetic levitation devices, spintronic devices and superconducting magnetic refrigeration. Solving this puzzle; would have enormous technological importance.
The work has been based on the identification of the growing understanding of the magnetic properties (the ability to repel magnetic fields) of graphene. These properties could play a crucial role in enhancing superconductivity and therefore make it a good candidate for continued efforts to realize its potential. To truly understand the magnetic properties, the material has been sent to a third party for full magnetometer temperature testing; this is believed to be the only way to get accurate nano material measurements.
The tests are very complex and time consuming but will provide us with absolute definitive measurements and a clear path forward for possible applications. Upon completion of the tests (estimated to be completed by October 28th 2015), the company will release the results. Elements of the research work have relied on a patented (nanoparticle ultrasound separation) system designed to isolate and create large quantities of graphene cost effectively.
The base graphite used in the research program was very pure, which minimized the need for costly and environmentally harsh purification. In addition, the graphene that was produced has excellent electrical/thermal connectivity; large high surface area, very good wettability, and had some promise of magnetic properties.
The production method has been initially shown to be less aggressive and significantly more cost effective than other processes such as the Hummers Method. This should further improve the overall ability to produce base material for many other needed applications for graphene today. The process may greatly shorten the time to market, and we are encouraged that there are already real needs for the material in all sorts of applications including polymers, epoxies and other coatings. The company plans to work with industry partners to develop a solution based application that can be developed today and be in use in a short time frame.
The next phase of the joint research effort is to prepare a bench scale system capable of producing larger quantities of high purity graphene samples for potential industry partners.