Contemporary Formula One cars are an exceptionally harsh and 'noisy' place, with many sources of electromagnetic interference (EMI) present, which can decrease sensor accuracy and skew transmission and receipt of readings, making life difficult for efficient performance.
EMI produced by the high-voltage electrical circuits related to the energy recovery system (ERS) and the motor-generator units (MGUs) is particularly disruptive and packaging these complex electrical machines alongside sensitive measuring devices to operate interference-free and survive racing conditions is one of the most significant headaches for Formula One engineers.
Although bespoke signal processing algorithms can help 'clean up' noisy signals and twisted cable pairs, braided metal wire cases, and copper tape can go some way to mitigating EMI on low voltage systems, this complexity is undesirable. Additionally, the metal-based EMI shielding faraday cages used on high voltage components carry an unwanted weight and size penalty.
Due to the above challenges, a non-metallic solution providing tailored broadband EMI and radio frequency interference (RFI) shielding is in demand. Advanced Material Development's (AMD) graphene-based coating is an ultra-lightweight, ultra-thin EMI attenuating solution that can apply across numerous substrate materials and survive in the challenging conditions seen by electrical systems in Formula One.
Our carbon-based coating has a density of ~2g/cm3 and a sheet resistance when sprayed of 0.08Ohm/sq at 25µm thickness—a conductivity of up to 500,000S/m—significantly lower than any other carbon-based conductive coating material. A light deposition can resist 50dB of interference across a frequency range from 300MHz to tens of GHz, meeting motorsports sensitive electronics shielding demands. A 33µm thick coating of our base carbon-based coating has a mass coverage of just 66g/m2; standard aluminium shielding would require a thickness of 0.1mm (100µm), rendering a mass coverage of 270g/m2.
Our carbon-based coatings have a potential conductivity in line with thick, dense silver and copper-based paints, and can provide significantly higher shielding over other non-metallic solutions. This performance is ideal for higher power system shielding applications.
All our coatings are explicitly tailored to match it to the substrate material. As such, regardless of the mechanical or thermo-mechanical stress, it doesn't change its shielding properties, and it remains adhered to the substrate across a considerable temperature range.
Where required, we can embed structural health monitoring into the graphene-based EMI shielding coating composition. Using a built-in antenna structure, it can wirelessly feed the mechanical status of the coated part to a wireless receiver. As a nano-scale transducer, the graphene-based coating is more sensitive, accurate and robust than current surface mounted strain-sensing units.
We can also structure the coating material to act as a meta-surface and dial in a window to allow transmission in a small section of a frequency spectrum and attenuates everything else. In this window, systems can talk to each other while all interference in the background, like 5G or 4G or other extraneous radiation, is blocked.
A solution to modify our graphene-based coating transmission of frequency energy as a function of mechanical deformation or stress is also feasible. For example, it can be resolved to change its transmission in a specific window by 80% as a function of 5% deformation. Once the transmission window actuates, communication through the coating can proceed autonomously inside a chosen frequency in real-time.