The new international standard, led by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), defines the terminology used to describe the many different forms of graphene and related 2D materials, supporting companies in the testing and validation of the 'wonder material'. This will provide clarity among manufacturers, suppliers, NGOs and academia, helping to unlock new applications, drive down manufacturing costs and open up industrial-scale use of graphene for applications from next-generation computer chips to smart sensors in clothing.
Interest in graphene and related 2D materials continues to grow both commercially and academically, and many industrial sectors look set to benefit from the unique properties of these materials, areas such as electronics, energy storage, nanocomposites and sensors, with over one hundred companies worldwide now producing or using graphene.
However, while terms such as 'epitaxial graphene', 'graphene oxide' and 'few-layer graphene' are commonly used across industry, prior to the publication of this new standard, there were no universally-agreed definitions – in some cases, material that is hundreds of layers thick has been incorrectly branded 'few-layer graphene'. Inconsistencies like this prevent companies that are developing new products from fully understanding the properties of commercially-available graphene-based materials and selecting the material best suited to their application. This is a key barrier to commercialisation of new products and prevents trust in the supply chain.
Recognising the clear industry need, NPL, as part of the UK Nanotechnologies Standardisation Committee (NTI/1) of the British Standards Institution (BSI), initiated the development of this ISO standard in 2013. After a rigorous development process involving technical experts from 37 different countries, the standard is now available online and contains 99 terms and definitions covering the types of 2D materials, material production, material characterisation and material properties, all of which are freely available in the ISO Online Browsing Platform.
NPL's Dr Andrew Pollard, who co-led the development of the standard with Dr Charles Clifford, commented: "Both graphene producers and end-users have been concerned for years that inconsistent terminology has meant slower progress in the commercialisation of these materials and made it difficult to determine the difference between graphene and graphite products.
"Although it may be understood that the term 'graphene' means a single layer of graphene, the vagueness of terms such as 'few-layer graphene' has blurred the line between graphene and graphite. This terminology standard addresses this barrier and is the first step in standardisation of this emerging industry."
Publication of the new standard is the latest in a series of advances resulting from NPL's graphene research, from the development of new sensors for hepatitis diagnosis and allergen detection in food manufacturing, to investigation of graphene's use in nuclear decommissioning.
Read more about the need for and development of the new ISO standard in the Journal of Materials Science
Find out more about graphene research at NPL
16 Oct 2017