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Why Graphene is Considered the Wonder Material of the Future?

by | Jun 1, 2022 | Sustainability




New materials have always been a bearer of new technologies, development and advancement. Throughout human history, each age has been labeled by the material that was bearing innovation at that time. For example the stone age, the bronze age or the iron age. Every new matter was better than its predecessor and it also made life simpler.

Today also, we have new technologies that come with the introduction of new materials or substances. And now we are at new dawn with a promising material that is super-capacitive, electrically conductive, biodegradable, 200 times stronger than steel, can take any shape and is ultralight.

This material has also been theorized to be able to help clean up nuclear waste,  filter salt from seawater, biocompatible, help make space elevators a reality, create flexible computers and unbreakable phone screens and create the base for new supercomputers. And that wonder material is graphene.

Founded in 2004, the entire scientific community was blown away by this remarkable material. When graphene was discovered, it was believed that it is the most important breakthrough in material since the plastic revolution. What was so great about this material is that it is about a million times thinner than a hair but still about 200 times stronger than steel.

That fact alone opened up a lot of possibilities for the uses of the material. The early predictions for this material were that it will enable the kinds of products and technologies that we’re used to seeing in sci-fi movies. It is impossibly light and yet incredibly strong. It is a flexible and yet highly efficient conductor of electricity.

Graphene or graphite is a stable form of carbon that is extremely strong and still flexible. It is a one-atom-thick lattice of carbon atoms. It is a Nobel prize-winning material and theoretical studies predicted that it has high levels of electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and breakage strength.

Graphene is an extremely thin material and its properties are so intriguing that many people are still confused. With its unique combination of properties, carbon atoms are becoming a hot topic of research, with more than 10,000 papers published annually. So what exactly is graphene?

What is graphene?

Graphene is a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms. It is also the lightest material known to man and one square meter of this carbon atom weighs only 0.77 milligrams. It has astounding properties, including the ability to absorb light and heat. Its ultra-thin structure also makes it a great conductor of electricity and heat. Its high mobility of electrons means it can conduct more than 200,000 cm2*V*s-1.

Graphene was first isolated in monolayer form in 2004. The scientists who discovered it believed it was impossible to grow two-dimensional molecules due to thermal instability, but later researchers concluded that the reason was the tiny carbon-to-carbon bonds of graphite. Because these bonds are so tiny, thermal fluctuations can’t destabilize the material.

However, scientists have made several attempts to further investigate the properties of graphene. The material was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. The researchers behind this discovery were Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim of the University of Manchester. They isolated graphene as a free-standing structure by peeling off layers of a natural flake of graphite using sticky tape.

In 2010, these researchers won the Nobel Prize for physics for their work. Since then graphite has sparked exponential hype. Researchers hope that this material will be used to create a wide variety of next-generation technologies, including wearable electronics, superfast electronics, ultrasensitive sensors and multifunctional composites and coatings.

Why graphene is important?

Graphene is a disruptive material with the potential to change many industries and revolutionize the world. It has the potential to replace existing materials, improve current technologies and even create a revolution on the scale of the Industrial Revolution. It is extremely strong, flexible, transparent and electrically and thermally conductive.

image of multiple layer of graphene
Image courtesy of Nature.com

Carbon atom graphite is one of the strongest materials known to man. It is an allotropic, single-atom-thick carbon sheet and is one-millionth the density of water. To harness its properties, scientists worked for years to create it. Because it is one atom thick, that makes it extremely light and durable. Its strength is comparable to structural steel and it is 200 times stronger than it.

One sheet of this single-atom-thick carbon could cover a football field and would weigh less than a gram. The sheet would be so light that it would be impossible to break or damage it. It is the basis for many other carbon atoms and forms of matter. The ability of graphite to conduct electricity, absorb heat and resist other materials makes it an attractive candidate for various applications.

The properties of graphene are endless. The material’s electrical conductivity (the ability to “ferry” electricity) and electronic properties (the ability to manipulate the flow of electrons) are incredibly useful. Its high mobility and speed of electrons could be used in many applications.

And since carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, graphene is also renewable. This could make graphene a sustainable solution to a world that is increasingly complex and under the threat of climate change. And the ability to manipulate electrons in graphite is potentially useful for creating faster, cheaper and more energy-efficient computer chips.

Graphene oxide is a functionalized form of graphene and has numerous applications. It contains carboxyl, epoxy and hydroxyl groups and is highly hydrophilic. It facilitates chemical reactions and promotes covalent bond formation as well as has excellent thermal conductivity.

Graphene oxide is the chemical form of graphite. Its backbone is made of atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like structure. Graphite oxide has a low electrical conductivity and is an electrical insulator. This carbon-based material is soluble in many liquids and is therefore easily added to a formulation.

It can be further transformed into nano-enabled products, which are very useful in a variety of applications. The electronic properties of this alpha particle are governed by the bonding of PI orbitals. It contains electrons and holes that move at close to light speed. These properties make it a useful testbed for studies of quantum physics and relativity.

Graphene has great potential for filtration. It forms a perfect barrier to gasses and liquids and could even be used in paint. Its ability to prevent corrosion means it could be a replacement for Kevlar in the future. With its wide range of applications, carbon atoms could eventually replace materials in building and vehicle manufacturing.

This new material is incredibly strong, light and transparent. Eventually, it could be used to create intelligent windows in our homes. These windows could have a virtual curtain and could display content as well. That is also an exciting development for the future of electronics and technology.

Graphene’s impermeability makes it the perfect material to create a barrier between humans and pests. Like fish scales, it reflects certain wavelengths of light and dulls others. Scientists at Rice University have discovered a way to apply the material to various substances, such as plastic and paper. It can be formed into any pattern, so it could even solve food security issues.

Graphite’s extraordinary properties led to an interest in 2D crystals. Niobium Diselenide and Tantalum (IV) sulfide are two examples. These crystals are conductive and can be combined in new ways. Magnesium Diboride, for instance, is an effective superconductor when interspersed with individual layers of carbon atoms. The combination increases its efficiency as a superconductor.

Another field where graphite is gaining momentum is the field of biomedical applications. These biomedical applications will likely extend into a variety of fields, including medicine, electronics and the military. Its flexibility and low cost could make graphene an attractive material for wearable electronics also.

image of graphene atom
Image courtesy of Physicsworld.com

Ultimately, graphene could even revolutionize the manufacturing of high-energy batteries and flexible displays. If these new uses become reality, this material will become a fundamental component of many industries. For example, graphene-printed batteries can power electronics or store energy.

Another use of graphene is in biosensors. Biosensors can be used to detect bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. Initially, Alijani’s research group was looking at the fundamentals of carbon atoms material and questioned what would happen if they were to come in contact with biological objects.

Graphene can replace expensive, fragile Indium-Tin-Oxide in touch screens. It is also flexible and can be pasted directly onto non-breakable material. In addition to making electronics more flexible, it could also be used in the fabrication of stronger tennis racquets. However, further research is needed to conclude graphite’s safety in our everyday lives.

Challenges in the implementation of graphene

Despite its many advantages, commercial graphene is still quite a bit away. Its risks are largely unknown. In the absence of any significant human health risk, graphite is widely used in domestic products and is relatively safe for the environment. However, there are a number of ethical concerns associated with the material, which are being raised by scientists and technology advisors.

The most common misconception is that graphene poses no risk. The fact that it is similar to harmless materials makes it hard to identify any dangers. And its commercial viability has not been established. Although graphite has shown remarkable potential on the laboratory scale, it is still in its early stages of development and could take decades to make a commercial product.

Further, there are still many unanswered questions, such as the health and safety concerns associated with its use. Furthermore, there is no supply chain for graphite and it will need to be developed at scale. The industry is eagerly waiting for someone to take the lead in advancing graphene technology. It is also important to understand how it can interact with our bodies.

Graphene-based materials can be toxic to several organs in the body. In addition, they can cause reproductive system damage and may even lead to a birth defect. The reproductive toxicity of carbon atom derivatives is of utmost importance. Since graphene is so toxic to embryos, reproductive effects may occur even in small quantities.

These results may affect the fertility and health of offspring, which is why this material is still under investigation. Further experiments are needed to fully understand graphite’s toxicity. So, while the benefits of graphene are enormous, caution must be taken to ensure its safety.

Future of graphene

Graphene is a revolutionary material that offers countless possibilities. It is flexible and shock-proof, making it a valuable component in many products. It could be used in the manufacture of cars in the coming decade, making them cheaper and lighter than ever before. Scientists in the UK have already designed a graphite airplane and it will be environmentally friendly, using less fuel than a regular plane.

Some researchers have already explored the potential applications of graphene in biomedical research. One of their biggest breakthroughs is the ability to interface with nerve cells. The material’s ability to transmit electrical signals is ideal for treating neurological disorders and scientists believe it could allow amputees to control prosthetic robotic limbs.

This new material could also be used in artificial spinal implants. Carbon atoms are also an excellent material for sensors. The unique structure of graphite allows micro-sized sensors to be made. These sensors can detect harmful molecules that affect the environment. They could also be used in the food industry and crop protection.

For example, farmers could use graphene-enhanced plastics to keep their crops fresh for longer, reducing waste. And even water-proof houses would be made possible with it. Despite its incredible properties, graphene is extremely difficult to produce in large sheets for commercial use.

Graphene is currently being used to strengthen other materials. In fact, dozens of researchers have already demonstrated that adding trace amounts of carbon atoms to a material will improve its strength. Making a material stronger and lighter. These new materials could find applications in aerospace, building materials, and even mobile devices.

Its unique molecular structure could make it possible to develop batteries that can be sewed into clothes. These batteries would charge in minutes or seconds. Research on the future of graphene is moving forward quickly. Its discovery is like the discovery of silicon, which led to the development of semiconductors, paving the way for computers.

The researchers at MIT are continuing these efforts and are excited to see what the future holds for this material. Graphene’s advantages are numerous. Its low weight, high surface area, and low density can help improve the efficiency of LED lighting and make it last longer. The future of this material in batteries is bright.

Battery technology is another major application of graphene, with maximum applications in the automotive industry. However, graphite batteries still haven’t been used in full form in smartphones and other gadgets, but this could change in the future. These batteries could eventually replace the lithium-ion battery and revolutionize the way we charge our electronics.

You could even use graphite batteries in your car. This new material has many applications and may soon be a vital component in the future of battery technology. Its ability to enhance light also help improve battery life and increase the number of charge cycles. Other applications for graphene are in biomedical research.

Its microscopic width and flexibility make it useful for making biomedical sensors and machines. These sensors and machines could move through the human body, analyze tissues and deliver drugs. As carbon is a vital ingredient in the human body, it may be used to create devices that will move throughout the body. Its flexible and pliable properties may also make carbon atoms the perfect material for biomedical research.

Graphite’s unique properties make it a promising material for a variety of applications, from batteries to flexible displays. Its inclusion in electrodes has improved certain properties in some of these devices, including flexibility. In the future, graphene may be the next big thing. The field is at the forefront of technological advancement and will continue to grow quickly with further R&D.

However, the future of graphene is only limited by our imaginations. For now, these applications are merely a speck in the grand scheme of possibilities.