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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  • First-ever direct observation of chiral currents in quantum Hall atomic simulation


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Using an atomic quantum simulator, scientists have achieved the first-ever direct observation of chiral currents in the model topological insulator, the 2-D integer quantum Hall system.

  • Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Experimental evidence of melting in two-dimensional substances has finally been gained by researchers. Findings from the study could be used to support technological improvements to thin film materials such as graphene.

  • Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

  • New discovery could aid in detecting nuclear threats


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    A new way to detect nuclear materials has been developed by researchers. Made of graphene and carbon nanotubes, the researchers' detector far outpaces any existing one in its ultrasensitivity to charged particles, minuscule size, low-power requirements, and low cost.

  • New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    The first 3-D quantum liquid crystals may have applications in quantum computing, report scientists. Liquid crystals fall somewhere in between a liquid and a solid: they are made up of molecules that flow around freely as if they were a liquid but are all oriented in the same direction, as in a solid. Liquid crystals can be found in nature, such as in biological cell membranes. Alternatively, they can be made artificially -- such as those found i...

  • Graphene 'copy machine' may produce cheap semiconductor wafers


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    A new technique may vastly reduce the overall cost of wafer technology and enable devices made from more exotic, higher-performing semiconductor materials than conventional silicon. The new method uses graphene -- single-atom-thin sheets of graphite -- as a sort of 'copy machine' to transfer intricate crystalline patterns from an underlying semiconductor wafer to a top layer of identical material.

  • Making batteries from waste glass bottles


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Researchers have used waste glass bottles and a low-cost chemical process to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The batteries will extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and provide more power with fewer charges to personal electronics like cell phones and laptops.

  • Graphene and gold make a better brain probe


    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Scientists have created more flexible neural electrodes that minimize tissue damage and still transmit clear brain signals.

 

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