A team at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has found a way to apply graphene to large-scale commercial use. In the past, researchers have only used tiny flakes of graphene, a polymer matrix composite, due to its impracticality at a large scale. The team, led by ORNL’s Ivan Vlassiouk, has used chemical vapor deposition to make a nanocomposite with much larger sheets of graphene than most use.

Previously, researchers had difficulty dispersing graphene due to small sample sizes. Vlassiouk’s method could ultimately change how graphene and other nanomaterials are perceived and used.

“Before our work, superb mechanical properties of graphene were shown at a micro level,” said Vlassiouk. “We have extended this to a large scale, which considerably extends the potential applications and market for graphene.”

If Vlassiouk and his team prove the ability to scale large quantities of graphene while simultaneously cutting costs, graphene’s application could extend into new markets, including aerospace, the automotive sector, electronics, energy and manufacturing.