In focus: Graphene – The wonder material

In focus: Graphene – The wonder material

  • Graphene is the next-generation wonder material that will revolutionize material science.
  • It is made up of carbon atoms that are arranged in a peculiar way to give it the special properties it possesses.

 

Structure of graphene

  • Graphene is a 1-atom thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal ring shape.
  • The carbon-atoms in graphene are laid out flat making it effectively a 2-D crystal.
  • Imagine graphite (used in pencil) to be made up of billions of layers of carbon atoms, one such layer is what represents graphene.
  • Though there are materials made up of same atoms, they exhibit different physical and chemical properties because of the way the atoms are arranged. (Allotropes)
  • For instance, though both graphite and diamond are made up of carbon atoms, they exhibit completely contrasting physical chemical properties.
  • Similarly the way the carbon atoms are arranged in graphene gives it the unique combination of properties.

 

 

Properties

  • Strength: Graphene is a 2-d crystal stronger than diamond and 300 times stronger than steel.
  • Thickness: Graphene is the thinnest material known, million times thinner than human hair.
  • Light: Being 1-atom thick layer, it is extremely light
  • Conductor: It exhibits both electrical and thermal conductivity.
  • Optically Transparent
  • Flexible
  • Hydro-phobic

 

Potential Applications

  • Aerospace and ship building
    • Graphenes are potentially the next-gen materials for aircraft bodies and ship hulls.
    • Due to being light and strong; it will reduce the drag of the aircraft or ship hulls, thereby increasing their fuel efficiency.
  • Automotive
    • For the same reason mentioned above graphene may be useful automotive bodies.
  • High-speed electronics
    • As a result of super-conductivity, it is ideal for high-speed electronics.
  • High-speed computers
    • The speed and performance of any computer depends on the size of the microprocessors inside it.
    • Graphene may potentially replace silicon chips used to make transistors in microprocessors.
  • Flexible Screens, sensors
    • Graphene may also revolutionise touchscreen technology due to its flexibility. (flexible foldable screens)
  • Thermo-electric devices
    • Due to thermal conductivity, graphenes may be used in thermo-electrical devices which can convert heat wasted in many devices like computers, automobile etc into electricity.
  • Solar panels
    • Graphenes can potentially be used to make photovoltaic cells.
    • Currently P-V cells undergo degradation upto 30% a year due to exposure to radiation from sun.
  • Energy Storage
    • Graphenes can make the size of batteries extremely small.

 

 

Section : Science & Tech

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