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Will Graphene transform the world as we know It?

Imagine that you’re at a cocktail party and you meet two scientists, Andre and Konstantin, from the University of Manchester University. They tell you that they’ve won the Nobel Prize for discovering an apparently miraculous product called graphene that will transform almost every aspect of our daily lives

Andre says that graphene sheets can be described as two dimensional because they are only as thick as one carbon atom. From the perspective of the naked eye, it has length and width, but no discernible depth. Konstantin adds that it is stronger than a diamond, or about one hundred times stronger than steel. In addition, it is more flexible than rubber and a better conductor than copper. Finally, to top it off, Andre mentions that it is so light that you could put it on a flower and the petals would not droop and it is so sensitive to environmental conditions that it could be used for sensors for measuring pressure, magnetism, or gas.

At this point, it’s quite understandable if you come to the conclusion that these scientists are having some fun at your expense because as a non-scientist you probably wouldn’t know the difference between science fact and science fiction. After all, what they’ve just told you sounds more like the stuff of science fiction than the work of serious men and women in white coats pottering around a university lab.

However, graphene really does exist and this one carbon thick super material can revolutionize the world of science and technology and beyond belief. (And, yes, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov did win the Nobel Prize in 2010 for their discovery.)

Currently, there are many speculations on what is now possible in the world of science and technology.

According to an article in Higher Learning, What’s Harder than Diamond, More Flexible than Rubber and More Conductive than Copper? inventive minds are coming up with all sorts of ideas like flexible, electronic screens; enhancing solar cells; extending battery life; and building new body tissue for regenerative medicine.

10 Hypothetical Uses of Graphene

Here are some examples of real world possibilities with graphene:

  1. Coating materials. By “painting” materials with graphene, it would be possible to make them corrosion proof, as well as stronger, more impermeable, and more conductive.
  2. Uploading as much as a terabit of data in a second. Imagine plugging in your phone to be recharged and it’s already done before you ask a question like, “I wonder how long this will take?”
  3. Protecting cell phones. Graphene could be used to create unbreakable touch screens. Instead of glass, plastic coated with graphene could create ultra thin touch screens.
  4. Cleaning up radioactive waste. It might be possible to clean up all the contaminated water close to Fukushima by using graphene to make it easier to clump radioactive particles together.
  5. Making sea water drinkable. A graphene filter over a small hole–but one large enough to let water into a tank–could remove the salt. On a large enough scale, this would solve all global problems related to a shortage of sufficient clean drinking water.
  6. Rendering batteries obsolete. Graphene supercapacitors may one day replace batteries.
  7. Transforming medicine. It might be possible to use graphene in the creation of bionic devices implanted in living tissues. These devices could connect with nerves to enable people with spinal injuries to relearn how to walk and move their arms again.
  8. Improving frequency response in headphones. While there are many excellent headphones in the market right now, they won’t be able to compete with the quality of headphones equipped with high conductivity graphene.
  9. Transforming safety helmets. Helmets are used in a wide range of activities that require head protection. With graphene added, they will be a hundred times stronger than steel!
  10. Upgrading wearable technology.Scientists are looking into the creation of graphene sensors for the future of treating asthma. The sensors could be a wearable device like Fitbit that will inform an asthma sufferer when to take their medication and how much is necessary.

Rapid Advancements Ahead for Graphene Use

Today scientists in myriad fields around the world are contemplating what they can do with this honey-comb lattice sheet that’s unbelievably thin, strong, and flexible, and also a superb electrical and thermal conductor. The European Commission is pushing initiatives for a wide assortment of ideas. In fact, many ideas have actually come to fruition. For instance, researchers from CNR-ISOF have successfully used graphene in their design of a flexible antenna for near-field communication (NFC) applications.

 

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