31 October 2011

The Wonders of Graphene

The most amazing discovery in terms of material technology in the last decade is graphene. Graphene is a super-conductive form of carbon, made from single-atom-thick sheets.

A graphene circuit can operate at high frequencies of up to 10GHz (10 billion cycles per second), and at temperatures of up to 127°C. It is the most transparent, strongest and most conductive material on Earth. Because of this, graphene could be an ideal candidate for Transmission Electron Microscopy.

Professor Andrea Ferrari of Cambridge University says that besides being totally flexible, graphene could give great feedback when used as a touch screen of a phone or a tablet. "Your phone will be able to sense if you're touching it, will sense the environment around - you won't have to press a button to turn it on or off, it will recognise if you're using it or not.", he says.

Video: What is Graphene and what is graphene used for?

Everyday, scientists and researchers are discovering new ways that this material can be used.

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have discovered a new method to synthesize high quality graphene in a controlled manner. Their process opens up a more economical and mass produced high quality graphene that electronic manufacturers can use. Currently, the stumbling block in the use of graphene is that it is tedious and expensive to manufacture it. But with this latest discovery, it opens up a more industry-friendly way to creat the material.

Kaustav Banerjee, a professor with the Electrical and Computer Engineering department and Director of the Nanoelectronics Research Lab at UCSB. He is the lead scientist in this experiment. "There is no doubt graphene is a superior material. Intrinsically it is amazing," says Professor Banerjee. "It is up to us, the scientists and engineers, to show how we can use graphene and harness its capabilities. There are challenges in how to grow it, how to transfer or not to transfer and pattern it, and how to tailor its properties for specific applications. But these challenges are fertile grounds for exciting research in the future."

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