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Graphene

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By Oliverio80
Words 551
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One of the most amazing discoveries of the twenty-first century was the isolation of graphene. Graphene is a thin layer of pure carbon; it is a single, tightly packed layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice.1 If we stack these thin layers upon each other it forms graphite, which is found in every pencil lead. When isolated, graphene exhibits remarkable properties that can be used to help improve the performance and efficiency of current materials and substances. Graphene was first studied theoretically in the 1940s. During this time, scientists felt that it was physically impossible for a 2D material to exist, so they did not pursue any form of mechanical exfoliation. Decades later, interested sparked and researchers began trying to peel apart the layers of graphite to isolate graphene. Scientists tried various techniques, but they never got to a single layer. Eventually, they were able to isolate graphene on top of another material, but not on its own. In 2003 a physics professor and his PhD student achieved the impossible; they were the first to isolate a single layer of graphene. Andre Geim, who won the 2000 Noble Prize for levitating a live frog over a magnetic field,2 asked a new PhD student to see how thin he could make a piece of graphite. That student Kostya Novoselov, was only able to produce a sample around 1,000 layers thick, but set in motion a side project for Geim that would turn into the scientific find of the century. After speaking with friends and colleagues, Geim and Novoselov started using ordinary scotch tape to remove the layers. They used the tape to repeatedly peel off the layers of one flake until they managed to get down to flakes that were only a few atoms thick. They soon realized that by repeatedly sticking and peeling back the Scotch tape they could get down to the thinnest of all possible layers, one atom thick – a material with unique and immensely interesting properties. 3 Upon further research by Geim and others, all of graphenes fascinating qualities came to light. Not only was it the thinnest compound known to man at one atom thick, it was also the lightest material known, the strongest compound discovered, the best conductor of heat, and also the best conductor of electricity.1 There is currently one drawback to the use of graphene in electronic devices. Which is, it doesn't have a band gap and therefore cannot be switched off. To attain this quality, one would have to be engineered into to the graphene. Even with this flaw, graphene is still managing to emerge as the super material of the future. Graphene can be seen in few a products already, with research continuing in different fields. It can currently be seen in conductive ink. This is made by effectively mixing tiny graphene flakes with ink, enabling you to print electrodes directly on paper. Another use is in batteries, where the graphene is being used to boost the capacity and charge rate.1 Other possibilities include replacing silicon computer chips, computers that can fold up and be placed into a pocket, and even water filtration. The potential uses for this product are endless and graphene is now making the impossible possible.

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