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.
Here are some examples of real world possibilities with graphene:
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.