Scientists have theorized about graphene for years
Ever curious how we got to the point of producing batteries and technology en masse? The discovery of graphene, a property of carbon, led the way.
Carbon is the chemical basis for all life on earth. Harnessing graphene has lead to major advances in electronics and biotechnology. The value of graphene is in its transparency, density, electric and thermal conductivity, elasticity, flexibility, hardness, and resistance. It is one atom thick, 100-300 times stronger than steel with massive tensile stiffness.
Graphene conducts heat and electricity more efficiently than other chemical elements. It conducts light, affects the spin of electrons, magnetic movements, and electronic charges in solid-state devices. Graphene generates chemical reactions with other substances, and scientists believe graphene has potential for advancing the technology revolution.
Patents issued rose from 3,018 to 8,416
The mineral graphite is the most stable form of carbon. Southeastern Europeans were using graphite 3000 years BCE in decorative ceramic paints for pottery. People discovered wider uses for graphite like making lead pencils leading scientists to speculate there must be another element to graphite undiscovered. Andre Geim isolated the first two-dimensional material: a layer of carbon an atom thick with structure and properties about which the physicists had been theorizing. He and his students uncovered graphene’s field effect allowing scientists to control the conductivity of graphene. This is one of the defining characteristics of silicon that advanced the entire world of computer chips and computers. New processes were later discovered for production of graphene in large quantities. Geim and his associate were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their groundbreaking experiments on graphene but not for discovering it. Further study found ways graphene is used in electrical engineering, medicine, and chemistry. One of the first U.S. patents for graphene production was granted in 2006, and between 2011 and 2013, graphene-related patents issued by the U.K. Intellectual Property Office rose from 3,018 to 8,416 for products like long life batteries, computer screens, and desalinization of water.
U. S. has 33 patent applications since 2014
New research into graphene is making great strides into finding ways to increase the power density of batteries. Scientists have hopes for graphene to produce ultra-long batteries, having less weight, quicker to charge, thinner and less expensive to produce than lithium batteries. Korean based company Samsung has been awarded the most patents in graphene funding much of the research on graphene at a Korean university. Chinese universities are second and third in the number of patents for graphene discoveries, and Rice University in the U. S. has 33 patent applications since 2014.
U.S. professor John Tour held patents for graphene-infused paint making it easier to remove ice from helicopter blades. Graphene is being experimented in other products,
- Mixed with fluids graphene increases oil drill’s efficiency
- Graphene is used in materials to make airplane emergency slides and life rafts lighter and safer for passengers
- Graphene products are expected to save millions of dollars in fuel costs for airlines
- Tour’s associates are experimenting with graphene to help with people spinal cord injuries
- Graphene might, for instance, be mixed into sludge and scooped away enhancing effective environmental cleanups following radioactive disasters
- Plans are for graphene to improve the mobility of electronic information that flow over graphene surfaces from one point to another increasing the speed of communication a hundred fold or more
- Biologists are looking to use graphene that might improve therapies affecting cancer, neuronal cells and immune systems.
In June 2016 it was announced by the University of Exeter their research engineers and physicists discovered a lightweight graphene adapted material for conducting electricity. It substantially improves the effectiveness of large, flat, flexible lighting. Brightness is increased fifty percent. GraphExeter, as it’s called, greatly extends operating life before needing replacement. The researchers are looking into application for health-light therapies as well. MIT researchers cannot yet fully explain their lab findings showing a relationship between hyper thin carbon structures and light. Light moves slowly in graphene, and is too thin for light to remain inside, but electrons move fast inside the graphene honeycomb matrix. Shockwaves are somehow created. They believe their work might lead to new materials making optical computer cores of the future. Engineers are studying uses for graphene in electronics to make smaller transistors, consume less energy, and scatter heat faster.
Many scientists and engineers consider commercial and health applications of graphene still in a novice but exciting stage. There are experiments into bendable smartphones using graphene to create the screens. The primary drawbacks are the cost of high price equipment, and better knowledge of mass production. Corporate funding of university laboratories and leeway given them in other fields of research is today’s need for graphene research and applications.
For further reading…
Bradley, David. “A chemical history of graphene.” MaterialsToday: Elsevier Ltd. June 10, 2014. Web. Retrieved June 22, 2016. <http://www.materialstoday.com/carbon/comment/chemical-history-of-graphene/>
Colapinto, John. “Graphene may the most remarkable substance ever discovered. But what’s it for?” The New Yorker. December 22 & 29, 2014. Web. Retrieved June 22, 2016. <http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/22/material-question>
Emmio, Nicolette. “Why Do Engineers Care So Much About Graphene?” Electronics 360: IEEE. June 22, 2016. Web. Retrieved June 23, 2016. <http://electronics360.globalspec.com/article/6904/why-do-engineers-care-so-much-about-graphene>
Geim, A. K. and K. S. Novoselov. “The rise of graphene.” Nature Materials: Macmillan Publishers. 2007. Vol 6 pp. 183-191. Web. Retrieved June 22, 2016. <http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/v6/n3/abs/nmat1849.html>
“Graphene-based material illuminates bright new future for flexible lighting devices.” Nanowerk News: Nanowerk. June 2016. Web. Retrieved June 23, 2016. <http://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-news/newsid=43762.php>
Mertens, Ron. The Graphene Handbook. Graphene-Info. 2016. Print and online.
Poulter, Sean. “Bendable smartphones are coming! Deviceswith screens made from graphene are so flexible they can be worn like a Bracelet.” Mail Online: The Daily Mail.
May 24, 2016. Web. Retrieved June 22, 2016. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3607191/Bendable-smartphones-coming-Devices-screens-graphene-flexible-worn-like-BRACELET.html>
Sabin, Dyani. “Graphene-Based Computers could turn electricity Into Light, Speeding Processing.” Inverse. June 23, 2016. Web. Retrieved June 23, 2016. <https://www.inverse.com/article/17394-graphene-based-computers-could-turn-electricity-into-light-speeding-processing>