Graphene is out of this world

​In a collaboration between the Graphene Flagship and the European Space Agency, experiments have tested the use of graphene in space-related applications.

“Graphene, as we know, has a lot of opportunities. One, recognised early on, is space applications and this is the first time that graphene has been tested in space-like applications,” said Professor Andrea Ferrari, the Flagship’s science and technology officer.

Graphene shows promise for use in loop heat pipes and could also be used in propulsion, due to its lightness and strong interaction with light. Both applications have been tested recently.

The main element of the loop heat pipe is a metallic wick, where heat is transferred from a hot object into a fluid, which cools the system. Wicks made from two types of graphene were tested in two ESA parabolic flights and the results have encouraged the Flagship to push towards a commercial product. Meanwhile, five experiments demonstrated laser-induced motion of a graphene light sail.