Graphene


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Graphene Image

In simple terms, graphene, is a thin layer of pure carbon; it is a single, tightly packed layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice. In more complex terms, it is an allotrope of carbon in the structure of a plane of sp2 bonded atoms with a molecule bond length of 0.142 nanometres. Layers of graphene stacked on top of each other form graphite, with an interplanar spacing of 0.335 nanometres.

It is the thinnest compound known to man at one atom thick, the lightest material known (with 1 square meter coming in at around 0.77 milligrams), the strongest compound discovered (between 100-300 times stronger than steel and with a tensile stiffness of 150,000,000 psi), the best conductor of heat at room temperature (at (4.84±0.44) × 103 to (5.30±0.48) × 103 W·m−1·K−1) and also the best conductor of electricity known (studies have shown electron mobility at values of more than 15,000 cm2·V−1·s−1). Other notable properties of graphene are its unique levels of light absorption at πα ≈ 2.3% of white light, and its potential suitability for use in spin transport.

Bearing this in mind, you might be surprised to know that carbon is the second most abundant mass within the human body and the fourth most abundant element in the universe (by mass), after hydrogen, helium and oxygen. This makes carbon the chemical basis for all known life on earth, so therefore graphene could well be an ecologically friendly, sustainable solution for an almost limitless number of applications. Since the discovery (or more accurately, the mechanical obtainment) of graphene, advancements within different scientific disciplines have exploded, with huge gains being made particularly in electronics and biotechnology already.

The problem that prevented graphene from initially being available for developmental research in commercial uses was that the creation of high quality graphene was a very expensive and complex process (of chemical vapour disposition) that involved the use of toxic chemicals to grow graphene as a monolayer by exposing Platinum, Nickel or Titanium Carbide to ethylene or benzene at high temperatures. Also, it was previously impossible to grow graphene layers on a large scale using crystalline epitaxy on anything other than a metallic substrate. This severely limited its use in electronics as it was difficult, at that time, to separate graphene layers from its metallic substrate without damaging the graphene.

However, studies in 2012 found that by analysing graphene’s interfacial adhesive energy, it is possible to effectually separate graphene from the metallic board on which it is grown, whilst also being able to reuse the board for future applications theoretically an infinite number of times, therefore reducing the toxic waste previously created by this process. Furthermore, the quality of the graphene that was separated by using this method was sufficiently high enough to create molecular electronic devices successfully.

While this research is very highly regarded, the quality of the graphene produced will still be the limiting factor in technological applications. Once graphene can be produced on very thin pieces of metal or other arbitrary surfaces (of tens of nanometres thick) using chemical vapour disposition at low temperatures and then separated in a way that can control such impurities as ripples, doping levels and domain size whilst also controlling the number and relative crystallographic orientation of the graphene layers, then we will start to see graphene become more widely utilized as production techniques become more simplified and cost-effective.

Graphene In A Nutshell

Read my in depth look at graphene called ‘Graphene in A Nutshell’. It introduces, informs and tells the past, present and future of graphene. Read more >>

Properties Of Graphene

An explanation of the properties of graphene. Learn about its fundamental characteristics, electronic properties and optical properties. Read more >>

Graphene Applications And Uses

What are the uses and applications of graphene? How will it be used to change the world that we live in? Find out here. Read more >>

The Price Of Graphene

How much does graphene cost? And, what factors affect the price of graphene? Those questions are answered here. Read more >>

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  • Using crumpled graphene balls to make better batteries


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    The paper ball-like graphene particles stack into a porous scaffold to suppress filament growth of lithium metal that degrades the battery.

  • Semiconductor breakthrough may be game-changer for organic solar cells


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    In an advance that could push cheap, ubiquitous solar power closer to reality, researchers have found a way to coax electrons to travel much further than was previously thought possible in the materials often used for organic solar cells and other organic semiconductors.

  • Ultra-thin memory storage device paves way for more powerful computing


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    A team of electrical engineers has developed the thinnest memory storage device with dense memory capacity, paving the way for faster, smaller and smarter computer chips for everything from consumer electronics to big data to brain-inspired computing.

  • Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2-D monolayer materials


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Physicists have for the first time succeeded in characterizing the mechanical properties of free-standing single-atom-thick membranes of graphene.

  • New catalyst for hydrogen production is a step toward clean fuel


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    A nanostructured composite material has shown impressive performance as a catalyst for the electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen. An efficient, low-cost catalyst is essential for realizing the promise of hydrogen as a clean, environmentally friendly fuel.

  • High performance CNT catalyst relating to its electroconductivity


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Biofuels were obtained from Jatropha Oil using carbon nanotube (CNT) catalyst, which showed efficient cracking activity. The performance was activated by the high stability, metal sites, acid sites, electroconductivity, and coking tolerance of CNT. Two cracking circulations were found in the hydroprocessing. Meanwhile, the sulphur-free process was eco-friendly.

  • Nanostructure boosts stability of organic thin-film transistors


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    A nanostructured gate dielectric may have addressed the most significant obstacle to expanding the use of organic semiconductors for thin-film transistors. The structure, composed of a fluoropolymer layer followed by a nanolaminate made from two metal oxide materials, serves as gate dielectric and protects the organic semiconductor - which had previously been vulnerable to damage from the ambient environment.

  • White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Bilayer white graphene combined with a ceramic creates a multifunctional material with high strength and toughness, according to new research. The material may be suitable for construction and refractory materials and applications in the nuclear industry, oil and gas, aerospace and other areas that require high-performance composites.

 

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