Take a paper and draw a line using pencil.
What do you see?
A line of graphite on the paper. But if you look closely at the line using microscope, you can see a stack of thick layer of carbon atoms bonded together to form a hexagonal honeycomb lattice.
Pic: Graphite Layers
In 2004, Two physicistand succeeded extracting single layer of carbon layer called Graphene using a piece of graphite and scotch tape. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 for their ground breaking experiments regarding 2D material graphene.
Pic: Graphene Layer
Now what is interesting about Graphene?
Graphene has some unusual properties that no other materials have.
- It is the thinnest compound known to man (one atom thick) and it is a million times thinner than paper yet immensely tough.
- It is 200 times stronger than steel, even stronger than diamond. You can put an elephant on top of graphene with out breaking it.
- It is an excellent conductor and perfect barrier, not even helium can pass through it.
- It is stiff and elastic like rubber, you can stretch it to 20 – 25% of its original length.
It is easy to create a layer of graphene using a scotch tape and a piece of graphite for experimental purpose. But it’s difficult to produce graphene for commercial use due to expensive production cost and complexities of producing it on a large scale. But if we are able to produce the graphene in a large scale, it will be a game changer for all industries especially electronics. Consumer electronic companies such as Samsung has invested heavily and have lot of patents of using graphene in their electronics and telecommunications products.
You might have seen the following design of the transparent smart phones on the internet.
Since graphene is much more efficient in conducting electrons than silicon, it will be no surprise that in few years we will be able to have much more efficient and transparent consumer electronics such as Smart Phones, watches, Foldable Televisions etc.
Graphene can be used to boost the capacity and charge cycle of the batteries. Using Graphene made batteries, you can charge your phone with in the minutes and use it for long time without worrying about faster battery draining. Moreover, single layer graphene is protective against the corrosion in the battery components such as Battery case.
There are more practical applications that graphene can be used such as Medicines, Sensors, Aviation etc. Graphene is the next big thing and is going to be the game changer in a lot of industries.