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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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