Graphene Revolution is not just a little thing to know about
It may not look like it but Graphene Revolution is the strongest and versatile material on Earth. You probably heard a buzz about it. Graphene made big waves back in 2004 and it is knocked around science news ever since. A global race for Graphene revolution– it’s not just limited to one little thing, is one of the greatest discoveries of the 21st century. Graphene could be the key to a lot of mind-blowing technology. But that was almost 15 years ago. Where all the Graphene does wonders that we were promised? The bulletproof armour, the Graphene circuitry, the ultra-light aeroplanes, the Graphene medicine, a space elevator, so, the next time a man walks on the moon, maybe he will take the elevator to get there.
Clearly, a lot of the buzz never went anywhere. But Graphene does exist. Engineers have gone to making one fleck at a time, to producing it by the barrelful. So, the Graphene revolution we were promised may already be in motion. You can stretch and pull on it, and in fact, a good way to visualize it, is that if you had a big enough sheet of pure Graphene, you could hold up a soccer ball on just one atomic layer, and that is insane. the analytical Chemist, Joseph Meany, who co-authored a book about the promise of Graphene. He explained to us that Graphene is just a carbon, like coal, or graphite, or diamond. The difference is in how the carbon atoms are bonded together, and in the unique shape, the material takes. So, it is just a single atom sheet, there is no z-dimension to speak of in Graphene. And these atoms of carbon are arranged in interlocking or tessellated hexagons, kind of like a chicken wire. The bonds between the carbon atoms are actually extremely strong.
Back in 2004, researchers in the UK discovered that they could produce Graphene with some shockingly simple tools with a hunk of a particular type of graphite, and some standard-issue tape. From there, they used chemicals to dissolve away the tape, and they were left with tiny flakes of Graphene with remarkable properties. It is impossibly light, yet incredibly strong. It is flexible, and it is a highly efficient conductor of electricity. The researchers won a Nobel Prize in 2010, and today in 2018, literally everything around us is built or enhanced with Graphene. It is very easy for the media to seize on any new scientific or technological development as something that’s going to be transformative. Scientists come with these amazing new materials and then everything changes, and of course, it never really happens that way. According to the media men, with any new technology, the reality is it generally takes years to develop it. It would be unreasonable to expect Graphene to transform our lives overnight.
The uphill battle for any new material is that it can’t just be better than existing technology; it has to be much better. The issue with Graphene is replacing silicon in electronics. Certainly, there are companies who are exploring its use as a conductive electronic material. But of course, we already have such materials and Graphene has got to have big advantages over what we have already. If it is going to displace what is already well established, mature, technology. That doesn’t mean that Graphene has gone somewhere in 15 years. Engineers are making materials with Graphene today that could one day even end up in space-ships. The company Vorbeck Materials, have been into Graphene mass production since 2006. Being very light and voluminous in its raw state, Vorbeck is introducing its manufactured Graphene powder to all sorts of industrial and consumer products, like RFID tags, clothing, and even rubber. On the electronic front, Vorbeck has created Graphene-based inks that can be printed in mass on standard printing presses. This is extremely promising for the future of Graphene-based wearable electronics, which should be on the lookout for in 2019. There are big things happening with Graphene, we just have to be patient and we can’t believe everything we read about it. It’s this sort of long-standing notion of a wonder material that it does go back to the dawn of the plastic age in the 1920s and 1930s. Graphene might not be a wonder material any more than plastic is, but if Graphene works well on its own merits, the hype won’t matter at all.