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Meet the Team: Prof David Officer

Meet Materials Node Leader, Prof David Officer.

What is your role?

I am responsible for the majority of the ANFF Materials synthesis projects.

What is your area of expertise and what kind of experience do you have in this area?

I am an organic and materials chemist, with 36 years of experience.

What are some of the projects and collaborations you are currently working on?

We are currently working on a number of different types of graphene, in particular edge functionalised graphene (EFG) and liquid crystalline graphene oxide (LCGO). There are collaborations on EFG with 10 national and international research institutions to develop applications in batteries, supercapacitors, sensors, thermal conductivity, and composites.

We have supplied EFG to NSW supercapacitor manufacturer CAP-XX, who are currently testing it in their supercapacitor fabrication. NSW battery start-up Sicona Battery Technologies is investigating incorporating EFG into their lithium battery anodes. Geelong-based graphene producer Imagine is exploring the use of EFG in their large-scale sensing technology.

Monash University researchers associated with start-up Ionic Industries Ltd. have demonstrated that EFG provides improved conductivity and performance for their supercapacitors. Explorations of EFG use in their supercapacitors and lithium sulphur batteries are on-going. NSW company Romar Engineering will pursue commercial applications of the EFG:PDMS composite that we have developed.

We have also been able to make a wide variety of EFG polymer composites. Other academic researchers are investigating EFG for use in polymers (ACES and USyd), batteries (Deakin) and composites (UNSW and UQ).

We are investigating the potential of a type of EFG generation from graphite produced in the Hazer Process of Hazer Group Limited in WA, who are very excited about the potential productivity enhancement to their process.

We are also synthesising ionic liquids and various polymers. We have made kilograms of the ionic liquid P13FSI for the BatriHub at Deakin for use in their production of battery pouch cells. We are using the same ionic liquid for EFG supercapacitors. In addition, we have scaled up production to 15 L of a polyurethane/polymethylmethacrylate (PU/PMMA) interpenetrated polymer network (IPN) for use as superhydrophobic polymer for researchers at ANU.

What is the future outlook of these projects?

We have applied to the NSW Physical Sciences Fund for $1 million over 18 months to scale up the production of EFG and establish a start-up, EFGX. The business case for EFGX is currently being investigated.

The use of EFG in batteries and supercapacitors is very promising and Sicona is interested in continued EFG supply. ACES researchers have demonstrated the use of EFG:PMMA composites for bionic applications. Romar Engineering is interested in commercialising this type of material.

The outlook for other EFG applications will depend on future results from collaborators.

We will continue to supply large quantities of IL to the Deakin BatriHub each year.

We are currently exploring future interactions with ANU researchers on the future development of the IPN polymer commercially.

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