Graphene – Graphene, Where have you been?
I have been in Graphite. Two persons helped me to come out of it and brought me into this world. For that, they have been given some prize called Nobel. So, what did you there and what exactly are you? I have been used as pencil. The wikipedia says, i am carbon’s brother but only one atom thick planar sheet. If carbon atoms are placed on paper in honeycomb shape, that becomes me.
You of course can’t see me with your eye. But If you see me through powerful microscope, you can identify my hexagonal design. A human hair would look so big in that microscope that probably you won’t be able to see it.
I need least energy to maintain my structure. That increases my usability. My extremely small thickness would allow ultra small devices which will further miniaturise electronics. This also increases my usability. In fact, you shall see in near future, how things changes, due to my involvement. An UC Berkeley researcher Xiang Zhang says i can send information at 500 gigahertz speed which means through me a full movie can be sent to another device in less than a second. And if i succeeds in doing this, there will be Graphene Valleys’ in this world instead of Silicon Valley..
The Hindu mythology’s vedic literature says, anything in this universe is useful in one way or the other, however by chance I am becoming more useful then others. Jeanie Lau, an assistant professor at University of California, Riverside and recipient of a Presidential Award says i have contrasting properties like stronger than steel yet softer than Saran wrap; transparent yet conducting electricity and heat much better than copper.
A researcher Ali Reza says one of my form called Graphene Paper (GP) is not only lighter, stronger, harder and more flexible than steel it is also a recyclable and sustainable manufacturable product that is eco-friendly and cost-effective in its use. The Graphene Paper that Ali Reza’s group have made is six times lighter than steel, five to six times lower in weight, two times harder and has thirteen times higher bending rigidity.
Now, a twist in my tale – Another scientist named Yakov Kopelevich from UNICAMP, Brazil says that i had been discovered as early as 1962 and since then researchers were aware of my properties. He even warns that as I am not having band gap, a property that is essential for many applications such as transistors. Making a band gap inside me requires high degree of engineering complexities and may reduce mobility inside me.
However, that fact is that, now people have started believing in my usefulness. I am still young and researchers are looking for different ways of making a better world using me. They are experimenting how electrons would flow through me, how would i behave inside magnetic field, what will happen if i am heated, what is my capacity of maintaining structure, what happens to my surface when exposed to various chemical species, how would i behave when i am multi layered. Their goal include finding new science that applies to me and possible new applications including patterning nanoribbons and quantum dots.
According to lux research, my sales are poised to grow upto $59 million market in 2015, with a 125% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). Their analysis found that initial opportunities will come from applications in composites, coatings, and energy storage devices, while electronics applications are at least a decade off.
So, I am happy that I would be making humans happier.