For years, researchers have known that carbon, when arranged in a certain way, can be very strong. Case in point: graphene.
Graphene-a one atom thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal format or a flat monolayer of carbon atoms that are tightly packed into a 2D honeycomb lattice is the ‘new wonder material’ that is expected to shape almost all aspects of future technologies. Existing as the sole 2D structure on earth a lot is expected of this material.
Graphene has many fascinating properties. It is about 200 times stronger than the strongest steel. It efficiently conducts heat and electricity and is nearly transparent. Graphene shows a large and nonlinear diamagnetism, greater than graphite and can be levitated by neodymium magnets.
To give you an idea of what graphene is capable of :
- It can be stretched quarter its length and and it is stiffer than diamond thanks to its perfect crystalline structure and ultra strong interatomic bonds
- It is so strong that it would take an elephant balancing on a sharpened pencil to pierce a graphene sheet with the thickness of a saran wrap
- Because it is only one atom thick, a gram of graphene can cover an entire football stadium
- At room temperature it conduct electricity faster than any other known material and 250 times more than silicon
- It demonstrates high bio compatibility and can be used in bio medical applications
- It conducts heat ten times better than copper
- It absorbs 2.3% of white light
There is virtually no field in the future world where graphene is not a part of.The future scope of graphene may include:
- Graphene polymer batteries can allow electric vehicles to travel at the range of 800 kmph
- Ultrafast photonic computer chips that can run on light rather than electricity
- Organic Light Emitting Diodes(OLEDs)
- Flexible touch screen displays
- Ultra thin thermal and pressure sensors
- Super sensitive elastomer skin for robots.
Major advantages of graphene are :
- It is the thinnest material known and with that also the strongest.
- It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms and is both pliable and transparent.
- It is a superb conductor of both heat and electricity.
- It is used in the production of high speed electronic devices responsible for fast technological changes.
- Chemical sensors effective at detecting explosives.
- Membranes for more efficient separation of gases. These membranes are made from sheets from which Nano scale pores have been created.
- Transistors that operate at higher frequency as compared to others.
- It has led to the production of lower costs of display screens in mobile devices by replacing indium-based electrodes in organic light emitting diodes(OLED) which also lower power consumption.
- Used in the production of lithium-ion batteries that recharge faster. These batteries use graphene on the anode surface.
- Storing Hydrogen for fuel cell powered cars.
- Low cost water desalination by using graphene-with holes the size of a nanometer to remove ions from water.
- Used in the production of the graphene condom which is able to increase sensation and is much thinner than latex condoms.
- One of the most expensive materials on the planet
- Non renewable resource and incredibly hard to synthesize
- While notable for its thinness and unique electrical properties, it’s very difficult to create useful, three-dimensional materials out of graphene
- Being a great conductor of electricity, although it doesn’t have a band gap (can’t be switched off). Scientists are working on rectifying this.
- The main disadvantage of graphene as a catalyst is its susceptibility to oxidative environments.
- Research has proven that graphene exhibits some toxic qualities. Scientists discovered that graphene features jagged edges that can easily pierce cell membranes, allowing it to enter into the cell and disrupt normal functions.
These are just but a few of the ‘wonder material’s’ advantages and disadvantages and since the material is still in the research stage much more is yet to be revealed .