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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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  • Nano 'sandwich' offers unique properties

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Nanoclusters of magnesium oxide sandwiched between layers of graphene make a compound with unique electronic and optical properties, according to researchers who built computer simulations of the material.

  • As thin as an atom: A revolutionary semiconductor for electronics

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Semiconductors that are as thin as an atom are no longer the stuff of science fiction. A new two-dimensional material could revolutionize electronics, say researchers.

  • Three layers of graphene reveals a new kind of magnet

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Scientists have discovered the magnetism of electrons in three layers of graphene. This study reveals a new kind of magnet and provides insight on how electronic devices using graphene could be made for fundamental studies as well as various applications.

  • Scalable 100% yield production of conductive graphene inks

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Conductive inks are useful for a range of applications, including printed and flexible electronics such as radio frequency identification (RFID) antennas, transistors or photovoltaic cells. The advent of the internet of things is predicted to lead to new connectivity within everyday objects, including in food packaging. There is a clear need for cheap and efficient production of electronic devices using stable, conductive and non-toxic components...

  • How to roll a nanotube: Demystifying carbon nanotubes' structure control

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    A key advancement in the design of high performance carbon-based electronics has been made by scientists, outlines a new report.

  • Using 'Scotch tape' and laser beams, researchers craft new material that could improve LED screens

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Researchers report a new bilayer material, with each layer measuring less than one nanometer in thickness, that someday could lead to more efficient and versatile light emission.

  • Turning up the heat for perfect (nano)diamonds

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    For use in quantum sensing, the bulk nanodiamond crystal surrounding the point defect must be highly perfect. Any deviation from perfection will adversely affect the quantum behavior of the material. Highly perfect nanodiamonds are also quite expensive and difficult to make. A cheaper alternative, say researchers, is to take defect-ridden, low-quality, commercially manufactured diamonds, and then 'heal' them.

  • Graphene foam gets big and tough

    - Graphene News -- ScienceDaily
    Graphene foam reinforced with carbon nanotubes can hold thousands of times its own weight and still bounce back to its full height. The material is thermally stable and highly conductive, making it suitable for batteries and other electrical applications.


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