By Jared Senseman, Editor in Chief
The university’s Nano Infrastructure Research Group is working on a wide array of technological advancements involving graphene, from graphene-based electrodes to graphene oxide for drug delivery systems and imaging of cancer cells.
One of the more fascinating displays at the group’s exhibit was a new graphene-based paper to be used for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding.
“This new material could replace what’s currently used on aircraft,” said Ahmed Al-Ostaz, Director of the Nano Infrastucture Laboratory at Ole Miss. “It could keep the plane safe from lightning strikes, while making it drastically lighter.”
While planes getting struck by lightning is rather rare, it just happened earlier this year to a Virgin Atlantic plane leaving Gatwick Airport in London. The new graphene-polymer composite works to dissipate electricity and is much more efficient and lighter than current materials, making it an ideal candidate for use on aircraft.
The university was also showcasing a new graphene composite material that can be used to protect rail cars carrying hazardous materials. If a bullet were to penetrate the car, it has the capability of automatically sealing itself closed, preventing the spillage of whatever may be inside.
“The material is less than an inch thick, and can seal itself after being hit by a bullet up to 50 caliber,” Al-Ostaz said. “These are the largest caliber bullets a civilian can purchase without a license.”
The university’s research into graphene and the field of nanomaterials comes at a time when it’s most needed as well. Prior to 2009, the US was leading the way in graphene-related patents. However, as of 2015, China led the way by filing 29% of patents worldwide, with the US lagging behind at 18%.
The university of Mississippi is based in Oxford, which is also home to the National Graphene Association. Having just launched last week, the organization aims to help with the commercialization of graphene throughout the US.