Graphene: A Miracle Material

Dated: 22 August, 2015
The material at end of your pencil could rewrite the way our technology works. It has the potential to make our existing technology stronger, better, and faster.
We appreciated its immense potential when Sushant S. Samuel and Amey Luktuke, Bachelors 2nd Year IIT Roorkee, gave a brief presentation on Graphene and its applications in various fields.
Graphene which was theoretically proposed by P.R. Wallace in 1947, was successfully produced in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov.

Some of its special properties include –

Graphene remains the strongest material ever measured and, as Professor Hone once put it, so strong that
Graphene remains the strongest material ever measured and, as Professor Hone once put it, so strong that “it would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.”
  • Hardest material known,
  • Thinnest and lightest of all material known,
  • Best conductor of heat at room temperature,
  • Superconductor at room temperature.

Among its many applications, some include –

  • Graphene’s high electrical conductivity and high optical transparency, that make it a candidate for transparent conducting electrodes, required for applications such as touchscreens, liquid crystal displays, organic photovoltaic cells, and organic light – emitting diodes
  • In 2014, a super capacitor was announced that was claimed to achieve energy density comparable to current lithium-ion batteries.
  • Hydrogenation-assisted graphene origami (HAGO) was used to fold approximately square graphene sheets into a cage that can store hydrogen at 9.5 percent by weight.
  • Research suggests that graphene filters could outperform other techniques of desalination by a significant margin.
  • It has complete impermeability to any gas (except Hydrogen) .Only water can pass through it.So it can be used in filtering applications

The presentation can be found at this link. And the research paper here.
The post presentation discussion was dominated mainly by the question of why has it been not installed and used at full scale despite such tremendous potential.
In 2008, graphene produced by exfoliation method, was one of the most expensive materials on Earth, with a sample the area of a cross section of a human hair costing more than $1,000 as of April 2008 (about $100,000,000/cm2). Since then, exfoliation procedures have been scaled up, and now companies sell graphene in large quantities.

The miracle material is a near-perfect conductor of electricity. (Image courtesy: The Independent)
The miracle material is a near-perfect conductor of electricity. (Image courtesy: The Independent)

The price of epitaxial graphene on Silicon carbide is dominated by the substrate price, which was approximately $100/cm2 as of 2009. Hong and his team in South Korea pioneered the synthesis of large-scale graphene films using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on thin nickel layers, which triggered research on practical applications, with wafer sizes up to 30 inches (760 mm) reported. But still the cost of production is so high that it can’t be used on large scales.
Also there was a discussion about the discovered graphene not being the ideal graphene. Ideal graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms. But practically it has not been achieved.

Author : Snehil Vijay & Amit Manchanda

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