New Single Layer (Atoms) from Graphite Material, Graphene is One of Newest Discoveries in Science

Professor Andre Geim
Professor Andre Geim | Source
Graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms.
Graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms. | Source

Modern Science Discovers Highly Useful 1-Atom Thick Lattice of Carbon

Discoveries in science paved the way for a lot of things that were deemed as impossible. One of the newest findings, the graphene, has roused scientists a great deal as they believe that this material is capable of turning their long-lived visions into reality. With graphene, scientists can make more devices to change life for the better.

What is Graphene?

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb-shaped lattice. It is just one atom thick, yet tremendously strong. The theory of graphene has been known for years. The problem is that the scientists before were unable to form a perfect layer of graphene because thermal fluctuations cause the crystal to melt. It was only possible in 2004 when Professor Andre Geim and his research team at the University of Manchester became successful in isolating stable graphene layers. The name graphene was acquired by Hanns-Peter Boehm as a combination of the term graphite and the suffix "ene." Boehm discovered single-layer carbon foils in 1962. Further, the first ever cosmic detection of graphene was in 2011 through NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope.

Graphene Properties

Graphene is the basic structural component of charcoal, 3D graphite, 1D carbon nanotubes, 0D fullerneness, and other carbon allotropes (carbon substances; one of the forms of elemental carbon). This means that graphene provides access to materials of all dimensionalities. Graphene is also different from other materials in the sense that, it contains mass-less charge carriers that act very much like protons, the particles of light. In addition, because of being chiral (not coinciding exactly when superimposed, a non-matching or non-congruent mirror image of a molecule), graphene is a guinea pig for exploring new quantum mechanics principles (the mechanics of atoms and sub-atomic particles which do not behave the same way as classical physics which we studied in high school), and a basis for producing functional devices that do not rely on typical metals and semiconductors, hence there are many applications related to electricity and the search for tremendous structural strength (stronger than any form of steel).

Graphene Applications

Due to its exceptional properties, graphene is considered for several different innovations. Scientists, researchers, and businesses are on the move for using graphene in many fields such as electronics, energy, and medicine. Below are some of the projected uses of graphene.

  1. High frequency transistors . Graphene makes an excellent transistor. The electrons in graphene move at a faster rate than those in silicon. It is so thin that the way it conducts electricity can be easily controlled through an electric field. Researchers have long tried to do this with metals, but their thickness cannot be reduced to the size applicable for such a function.
  2. Protective coating . Graphene is so tough that it cannot be broken by any strong acids and alkalis. By wrapping up objects with graphene, they can become resistant to hydrofluoric acid, ammonia, and other corrosive agents.
  3. Hydrogen storage for hydrogen-fuelled cars The lightness of graphene, and its ability to increase the binding energy of hydrogen, makes it possible to store higher amounts of hydrogen without so much weight for the fuel tank.
  4. Gas Detector . Gas detector is a device used to detect the presence of gas in a specific area for safety purposes. It has been found that when the molecules of gas get in contact with graphene, it creates a measurable impact on the electronic properties of graphene. In this case, it is possible to create gas detectors that are responsive to a single atom or molecule of gas.
  5. Ultra capacitor . Researchers believe that ultra capacitors based on graphene sheets can store as much electrical energy as lithium ion batteries do. But while lithium ion batteries will need about a couple of hours to store up a full load of energy, these ultra capacitors will do the work in just a few minutes.
  6. Disease sensor . Some molecules, the fluorescent molecules for one, are sensitive to certain diseases that can connect to the carbon atoms in graphene. A DNA strand for a particular disease is attached to the graphene and to the fluorescent molecules. When a similar DNA strand is introduced to the sensor, it will combine with the DNA strand attached to the graphene, thereby causing the fluorescent level to increase. This method forms a sensor that can detect the presence of similar DNA strands of the disease in the sample.

Summary and Conclusion

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms in a 2D lattice, and the structural component of some 0D, 1D and 3D carbon allotropes. It has been known for long, but only in 2004 were the scientists headed by Professor Andre Geim successful in isolating a perfect graphene layer. Graphene is the basis for the innovation of devices that do not rely on conventional metal and semi conductors, thus is found useful in many fields. Due to its unmatched chemical and physical properties, graphene is projected to be used for several/many purposes. Graphene can be turned into a high frequency transistor, a protective coating, hydrogen storage for hydrogen-fuelled cars, a detector of a single molecule or atom of gas, an ultra capacitor that is better than lithium-ion batteries, and a sensor for certain illnesses.

Only the Beginning

Graphene can split up into an unexpected and tantalizing set of energy levels when exposed to extremely low temperatures and extremely high magnetic fields m- Source: GaTech.edu
Graphene can split up into an unexpected and tantalizing set of energy levels when exposed to extremely low temperatures and extremely high magnetic fields m- Source: GaTech.edu | Source

Most Current Research - June 24,2013

Chinese and Danish scientists have discovered that using electron ink and graphene paper, they can produce the smallest data storage methods devised to date. As you may well know, it is the extent of memory that is a major factor in limiting the capacity of computers, for the most part. A new data storage device that could record many more bits of information could be a transformational technology - that is, a technology that could revolutionize the way many things are done and hence bring about a huge technological and economic boost. A good analogy to the degree of transformation was recently cited by extremetech.com . A recent quote states that, "The entire Library of Congress might be recorded on a single gram of graphene."

By using a technique of nano scale writing (2 nm instead of 50 nm, as in a magnetic-coated hard drive platter), info storage could be shrunk by a huge factor. This brings about all sorts of possibilities for miniaturization.

The problem has always been to be able to mass produce graphene-based instruments in sufficient quantity to be practical. It may be some time before those quantities are easily produced. Hence, the hard drive has little to fear about being supplanted in the near future.


A Single Walled Nanotube Can Be Cut to Form a Graphene Ribbon

This method allows thin films to be deposited on surfaces. In particular, DC plasma enhances the growth of nanotubes.
This method allows thin films to be deposited on surfaces. In particular, DC plasma enhances the growth of nanotubes. | Source

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Copyright 2012 by John Wilsdon

© 2012 John R Wilsdon

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Comments 2 comments

john000 profile image

john000 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona Author

Thanks, Nell. We are having our Thanksgiving this week in the U.S. Best to you.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Now this is fascinating to me, I love science and anything new like this is amazing, I find it so fascinating that something on such a small scale can be so useful, especially being able to help in the health department too. I don't try to understand the technical side of it, but I do find it really interesting, voted up! nell

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