Graphene has been labeled a wonder material due to its exceptional properties; it is 200 times stronger than steel while being exceptionally light, it can stretch like rubber, is transparent and conducts electricity and heat much better than copper. It is only in the last few years that unique and exceptional thermal, electronic, mechanical and optical properties of graphene have been explored, making the substance highly suitable to a wide range of applications. Some researchers have claimed that Graphene is the most important material discovery since plastics.
Such a comparison is not an exaggeration and may even be a conservative comparison. While plastics have become ubiquitous in our modern world, Graphene has far more potential uses, particularly in high tech electronics, and could prove to be far more lucrative an industry.
Graphene is a single layer of sp2-bonded carbon atoms, resembling a honeycomb structure. Essentially it is the same material as the graphite you find in a pencil, except only being a single atom in thickness. It has been called the world’s first 2-D material.
Since graphene is only one atom thick, it is incredibly customizable with the addition of other materials, kind of like using graphene as a frame upon which many different materials and applications can be built. The number of real world applications built upon graphene could end up being, for all intents and purposes, limitless.
Despite being aware of graphite since the 1960’s, it is only in the last decade that extensive research and application development has occurred following the groundbreaking research carried out by Professor Konstantin Novoselov and Professor Andre Geim of Manchester University in 2004, research that earned them both a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
The potential applications for this wonder material include paper thin display panels and televisions, disposable and foldable cell phones, lighter and stronger airplanes and automobiles, electronic newspapers that resemble normal papers, including being able to be folded under the arm. Miniaturization with silicon has hit a bottleneck and graphene is primly positioned to take over as the major material in the manufacture of computer chips, provide more efficient semiconductors and increase the productivity while reducing the cost and weight of solar panels. Graphene is also opening up exciting doors in medical advancement.