Laser-Engineered Graphene-Metal Composites

D.E. Colmenarez Lobo, M.A. Khan, P. Kang
George Mason University,
United States

Keywords: graphene, quantum, nano-materials, covetics, nanocomposites, composites


In pursuing advanced Covetic nanocomposites for superior electromechanical performance, previous studies have showcased their potential by integrating metallic matrices with carbon allotropes, particularly graphene [1-3]. Despite the challenges in commercial viability and large-scale production, efforts have been directed towards synthesizing Covetics and enhancing their electro-mechanical properties. Ge et al. [Ge et al. (2019)] proposed a one-step electrochemical reaction strategy for Al-C nanocomposites, revealing improved local elastic modulus and hardness. Another study [5] employed an electro-charging-assisted process (EAP) for nano carbon aluminum matrix composites, resulting in enhanced electrical conductivity and hardness. However, these advancements come with limitations. Challenges in commercial scalability and large-scale production hinder widespread adoption of Covetic nanocomposites. Additionally, while improvements in electrical conductivity and hardness have been demonstrated, further optimization is required for a broader range of material properties. Developing more efficient and scalable manufacturing methods is crucial for realizing the full potential of Covetics in practical applications. We introduce a novel method for creating graphene-metal composite materials through laser graphitization, seamlessly incorporating graphene into metal matrices. Our innovative process involves generating graphene from a polymer precursor and utilizing laser graphitization to infuse graphene into metal. Our study focuses on the production of graphene-aluminum composites using a CO2 laser, where a polymer precursor facilitates the production of graphitic materials and embeds graphene into aluminum. The laser's irradiation induces local photothermal heating on the polymer layer, transforming sp3 carbons in the polymer film into sp2 carbons, creating 3D graphene. Simultaneously, the localized heating allows graphene to infiltrate the metal. We comprehensively analyze the material properties of these graphene-aluminum composites, including morphological, electrical, and mechanical characteristics. Experimental results demonstrate significant improvements in conductivity and enhanced mechanical properties. This research underscores the potential of graphene-metal nanocomposites as a transformative approach for engineering high-performance materials, with diverse applications spanning aerospace, electronics, and the energy sector.   Reference Cited 1. Forrest, D.R., et al., Novel metal-matrix composites with integrally-bound nanoscale carbon. 2012, NAVAL SURFACE WARFARE CENTER CARDEROCK DIV BETHESDA MD. 2. Rana, D., K. Lachmayr, and S. Lustig, A review of covetics–current understanding and future perspectives. Nanoscale Advances, 2022. 3. Bakir, M. and I. Jasiuk, Novel metal-carbon nanomaterials: A review on covetics. Advanced Materials Letters, 2017. 8(9): p. 884-890. 4. Ge, X., et al., Mechanism studies and fabrication for the incorporation of carbon into Al alloys by the electro-charging assisted process. Carbon, 2019. 149: p. 203-212. 5. Ge, X., et al., Electrical and structural characterization of nano-carbon–aluminum composites fabricated by electro-charging-assisted process. Carbon, 2021. 173: p. 115-125.