Skip to main content

Bend it, charge it, dunk it: Graphene, the material of tomorrow

I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

No, fans of "The Graduate," the word isn't "plastics."

It's "graphene."


Graphene is the strongest, thinnest material known to exist. A form of carbon, it can conduct electricity and heat better than anything else. And get ready for this: It is not only the hardest material in the world, but also one of the most pliable.

Only a single atom thick, it has been called the wonder material.

Graphene could change the electronics industry, ushering in flexible devices, supercharged quantum computers, electronic clothing and computers that can interface with the cells in your body.

While the material was discovered a decade ago, it started to gain attention in 2010 when two physicists at the University of Manchester were awarded the Nobel Prize for their experiments with it. More recently, researchers have zeroed in on how to commercially produce graphene.

The American Chemical Society said in 2012 that graphene was discovered to be 200 times stronger than steel and so thin that a single ounce of it could cover 28 football fields. Chinese scientists have created a graphene aerogel, an ultralight material derived from a gel, that is one-seventh the weight of air. A cubic inch of the material could balance on one blade of grass.

"Graphene is one of the few materials in the world that is transparent, conductive and flexible — all at the same time," said Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, a lecturer in nanomaterials at the University of Manchester. "All of these properties together are extremely rare to find in one material."

So what do you do with graphene? Physicists and researchers say that we will soon be able to make electronics that are thinner, faster and cheaper than anything based on silicon, with the option of making them clear and flexible. Long-lasting batteries that can be submerged in water are another possibility.

In 2011, researchers at Northwestern University built a battery that incorporated graphene and silicon, which the university said could lead to a cellphone that "stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes." In 2012, the American Chemical Society said that advancements in graphene were leading to touch-screen electronics that "could make cellphones as thin as a piece of paper and foldable enough to slip into a pocket."

Vijayaraghavan is building an array of sensors out of graphene — including gas sensors, biosensors and light sensors — that are far smaller than what has come before.

And last week, researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, working with Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, said that Samsung had discovered how to create high-quality graphene on silicon wafers, which could be used for the production of graphene transistors. Samsung said in a statement that these advancements meant it could start making "flexible displays, wearables and other next-generation electronic devices."

Sebastian Anthony, a reporter at Extreme Tech, said that Samsung's breakthrough could end up being the "holy grail of commercial graphene production."

Samsung is not the only company working to develop graphene. Researchers at IBM, Nokia and SanDisk have been experimenting with the material to create sensors, transistors and memory storage.

When these electronics finally hit store shelves, they could look and feel like nothing we've ever seen.

James Hone, a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University, said research in his lab led to the discovery that graphene could stretch by 20% while remaining able to conduct electricity.

"You know what else you can stretch by 20%? Rubber," he said. "In comparison, silicon, which is in today's electronics, can only stretch by 1% before it cracks."

He continued, "That's just one of the crazy things about this material — there's really nothing else quite like it."

The real kicker? Graphene is inexpensive.

If you think of something in today's electronics industry, it can most likely be made better, smaller and cheaper with graphene.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley made graphene speakers last year that delivered sound at quality equal to or better than a pair of commercial Sennheiser earphones. And they were much smaller.

Another fascinating aspect of graphene is its ability to be submerged in liquids without oxidizing, unlike other conductive materials.

As a result, Vijayaraghavan said, graphene research is leading to experiments where electronics can integrate with biological systems. In other words, you could have a graphene gadget implanted in you that could read your nervous system or talk to your cells.

But while researchers believe graphene will be used in next-generation devices, there are entire industries that build electronics using traditional silicon chips and transistors, and they could be slow to adopt graphene counterparts.

If that is the case, graphene might end up being used in other industries before it becomes part of electronics. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation paid for the development of a graphene-based condom that is thin, light and impenetrable. Carmakers are exploring building electronic cars with bodies made of graphene that are not only protective, but act as solar panels that charge the car's battery. Aircraft makers also hope to build planes out of graphene.

If all that isn't enough, an international team of researchers based at MIT has performed tests that could lead to the creation of quantum computers, which would be a big market of computing in the future.

So forget plastics. There's a great future in graphene. Think about it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

El Nino may make a comeback in 2017, but unlikely to affect southwest monsoon (downtoearth,)

In 2016, the world witnessed the strongest El Nino on record, which resulted in above average temperatures. The year experiences record-breaking heat for nine consecutive months. It had also ruined the Indian monsoon for two years. After two successive droughts in 2014 and 2015, last year witnessed erratic rainfall both in terms of geographical spread and time. Thanks to El Nino, the southwest monsoon in 2014 and 2015 witnessed a deficit of 11 and 14 per cent respectively.

While the 2016 monsoon season in India saw 97 per cent rainfall, it was far less than the 106 per cent that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had forecast in July. The lesser-than-expected rainfall, especially in the second half of the monsoon season, has been attributed to the absence of a strong La Nina phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that is known to help the Indian monsoon.

According to a recent forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there’s a 50 per cent chan…

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 21 December 2016

Q.1- Which of the following is/are correct regarding Nirbhaya missile?

1. It is a cruise missile
2. It is hypersonic in speed
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both
D. None

Q.2- Khanjar-III is military exercise between which of the following countries?

A. India and Russia
B. Russia and China
C. India and Kyrgyzstan
D. Russia and Afghanistan

Q.3- UPI has been in news recently, what is the full form of UPI?

A. Unified Payment Interchange
B. Unified Payment Interface
C. Unified process interchange
D. Unified process interface
 .
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Answer  1-A, 2 -C, 3-B

Indian Polity Elections (MCQ )

1. Who of the following has the responsibility of the registration of voters
a) Individual voters
b) Government
c) Election commission
d) Corporations


2. Democracy exists in India, without peoples participation and co operation democracy will fail. This implies that
a) Government should compel people to participate and cooperate with it
b) People from the government
c) People should participate and cooperate with the government
d) India should opt for the presidential system


3. Which of the following are not the functions of the election commission
1) Conduct of election for the post of the speaker and the deputy speaker, Lok sabha and the deputy chairman, Rajya sabha
2) Conduct of elections to the state legislative assemblies
3) Deciding on all doubts and disputes arising out of elections

a) 1 and 2
b) 1 and 3
c) 2 and 3
d) 2

4. Which of the following electoral systems have not been adopted for various elections in India
1) System of direct elections on the basis of adult suffrage
2…