Graphene: The Wonder Material Essay

2214 words - 9 pages

October 22, 2004 wasn’t a particularly special day for Andre Geim and his colleague Kostyz Novoselov. Previously, a student had tried to separate graphite into ten or even one hundred layers but only succeeded in obtaining a specimen of one thousand layers. Then Geim had the brilliant idea of using Scotch tape to peel off individual layers of graphite. Geim and Kostyz took pieces of tape and manually separated the graphite until one layer remained (Lucibella 2). After hours of work and several pieces of tape with thin pieces of graphite on them, the final step was ready (Fuente). The tape was dissolved in a solution, leaving behind a thin flake on the surface of the solution. A substance previously unknown to mankind was created (Lucibella 2). This amazing material was named graphene. It is a sheet of atoms that can be picked up (Sheriff). Surprisingly, it resembles a honeycomb; the crystal lattice is composed solely of hexagons (Berger). Graphene is highly versatile, it has many interesting properties and it can be used in various electrical and medical applications.
All forms of carbon can be represented by graphene. Graphite is stacked graphene. Buckyballs (carbon spheres) are just bent graphene. Even the famous carbon nanotubes can be made by rolling graphene into a cylinder (Berger). Basically, no known material compares to graphene. “Graphene has a high specific surface area (2630 square meters per gram), exceptional electrical conductivity (mobility of charge carriers at 200,000 square centimeters per Volt-second), great thermal conductivity (5000 watts per Kelvin-meter), and awesome mechanical strength (Young’s modulus 1100 Gigapascals)” (Shen et al). Graphene conducts heat better than any material, even metal or diamond. As for its electrical conductivity, silicon falls far short when compared to graphene. Because it has close to no resistance, graphene is almost a superconductor at room temperature (Sheriff). It is also very flexible yet remains chemically stable (Berger). For its ability to conduct electricity and heat, graphene is the lightest and strongest material with these properties (Fuente). Even though graphene is flexible and can be stretched to twenty percent of its length, it is stronger than diamond. Graphene can also be used for water filtration because water is the only thing that can get through it (Sheriff). Even bacteria is separated from water (Warner et al 407). Only 2.3 percent of light is absorbed by graphene, this means it is transparent. But if graphene is laid on a white sheet of paper it can bee seen as a translucent gray film (Sheriff). Graphene requires only a small amount of carbon and no rare materials (Hadlington). This is much better comparatively than ITO, Indium Tin Oxide, a compound used to make touch screens. Due to its ability to be stretched and bent, a graphene wire can be adhered to a piece of paper or other flexible substrates and then the entire assembly can be bent or crumpled with no change...

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