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Graphene ― The Material Of The Future That's 200 Times Stronger Than Steel

Graphene ― The Material Of The Future That's 200 Times Stronger Than Steel

MIT researchers and colleagues recently discovered an important — and unexpected — electronic property of graphene, a material discovered only about 17 years ago that continues to astound scientists with its fascinating physics.

A fantastic material found in pencil lead. Pencil "lead" is actually a mixture of clay and the material graphite. Graphite is made entirely of carbon and is made up of stacked layers of graphene. Graphene is a one carbon atom thick layer with atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure, and its properties are vastly different from graphite.

Graphene research had accelerated exponentially since 2004, when Geim and Novoselov isolated and characterized graphene for the first time using the ‘Scotch Tape' method, resulting in reports of unique electronic properties.

Further research by Geim and his team and a group led by Philip Kim demonstrated that graphene's electrons behave in a relativistic manner, causing the material to act as a cross between a metal and a semiconductor in 2005.

Since the material's discovery, scientists have demonstrated that different configurations of graphene layers can give rise to various important properties. Graphene-based structures can be superconductors, which conduct electricity without resistance, or insulators, which prevent the movement of electricity. They have even been discovered to be magnetic.

Because of its crystal and band structures, graphene is also an excellent electrical and thermal conductor. It is a zero-overlap semimetal with remarkable electron mobility even at room temperature. As a result, it is a promising material for flexible electronics, solar cells, batteries, and high-speed transistors, all of which have practical applications.

The MIT researchers and colleagues demonstrate that bilayer graphene can be ferroelectric as well. This means that the material's positive and negative charges can spontaneously separate into different layers.

It's the thinnest material known to humankind. It also has the highest surface-to-weight ratio: one gram of graphene can cover several football fields. It is 200 times stronger than steel – so strong that a thin layer could support an elephant. It's also stretchable and nearly transparent – and a slightly better electrical conductor than copper. It is expected that graphene transistors will be significantly faster than silicon chips currently in use.

Scientist claims that Graphene can surely change our whole world. Its potential applications appear to be nearly limitless. They range from new types of flexible electronics that can be worn on clothes or folded up into a pocket to a new generation of very small computers, hyper-efficient solar panels, and super-fast mobile phones. It can also make seawater drinkable and will also help in producing clean nuclear waste.

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