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Materials

Graphene Fights Corrosion

Ultrathin carbon layers provide the thinnest possible protection for metals

by Bethany Halford
February 13, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 7

Graphene, the honeycomb-structured darling of materials, is now the world’s thinnest anticorrosion coating (ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/nn203507y). Researchers led by Vanderbilt University’s Kirill I. Bolotin report that with a coating of graphene just a few atoms thick, certain metals possess up to 20 times the corrosion resistance than they would have if they were bare. Graphene’s gossamer thinness makes it superior to polymeric coatings, which are relatively thick and can change the properties of the underlying material. Bolotin’s group studied both single- and multilayer graphene applied via either chemical vapor deposition (CVD) or mechanical transfer techniques to nickel and copper. Although all types of graphene provided some degree of protection, multi­layered graphene applied via CVD proved the most powerful at keeping corrosion at bay. When the researchers did find corrosion, it occurred at cracks in the graphene. “We expect that the proposed method of corrosion passivation is quite versatile and is applicable not just to nickel and copper but to arbitrary metallic surfaces that are either smooth or rough,” the researchers note.

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