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WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT GRAPHENE?

What is so special about Graphene?

If you are wondering what graphene is, then either you have been disconnected from the world for the past decade, or you have been blissfully ignorant about it. It is also known as the ‘wonder material’.
The factor that makes it such an unusual substance is the immensely diverse properties of graphene.

What is Graphene?

Can you imagine a single material being not only excessively lightweight but also being the most durable material known to man till date? Well, graphene is that material. It is composed of pure elemental carbon and is found abundantly in the earth’s crust.

The intricate yet strong structural properties of graphene make it stronger than the most robust industrial-grade steel. Its unique micro-frame also makes it one of the lightest known materials, apart from making it conveniently flexible as well. A single sheet of graphene is only 1 atom-thick, making it impossible to see without the help of electron microscopes. However, despite being incredibly thin, it is flexible enough to be shaped into any form you may desire.

The unique electron-sharing bond in graphene makes it even better than silicon when it comes to electrical conduction. It is 100 times more conductive than the conventional copper in use today, giving it immense potential in the electronics industry.

Graphene is special due to its unique properties

The unique properties of graphene are what make it so unique and wonderful. Discovered in 2004 by University of Manchester scientists, graphene is relatively a newly-discovered material.
Shape of Graphene
To imagine graphene, merely think of a honeycomb-like hexagonal-shaped structure. There are six carbon atoms interlinked in each hexagon, with a single electron free to move around the entire structure. A graphene sheet is similar in look to the conventional chicken wire, only with hexagonally-intertwined wires.
The sheet of graphene looks grayish-black and forms a perfect atomic lattice of carbon, which is in itself unique to the material.

Strength of Graphene

Graphene is the strongest material now known to us. Experiments have shown it to be at least 200 times stronger than conventional steel. Surprisingly, it is not only strong and stiff but also very elastic.

Flexibility of Graphene

Graphene is only an atom-thick but is immensely strong and flexible too. It is easy to pull and stretch the material around 25% of its original length without any damage. It is possible because the flat, plane structure of the material is more natural to flex, without breaking the atomic bonds between its molecules.

Lightness of Graphene

The immensely lightweight properties of graphene are thanks to it being only a single-atom-thick. The material is so lightweight that a sheet of graphene large enough to cover an entire football field would weigh less than 1 gram.

Thermal Conductivity of Graphene

Graphene is an extremely high thermally conductive material, even more, conductive than silver or copper. It is even better at conducting an extremely hot temperature than even graphite or diamond.

Electrical Conductivity of Graphene

The impressive electrical conductive properties of graphene are creating waves in the industrial sector. It is well known that good thermal conductors are mostly good electrical conductors as well, as both these processes primarily involve transporting energy using electrons.

As graphene is exceptionally flat, with its atoms arranged in a unique hexagonal structure, there is little to no resistance offered for free movement of electrons. This makes the material extremely conductive towards heat and electrical energy transfer.

Although we do have some superconductors, these require to regularly maintain and need to be operated at colder temperatures, owing to the lowered heat conductivity of these materials. However, with graphene, you can efficiently use the material in place of a superconductor and operate it at room temperature safely.

Electronic Properties of Graphene

Apart from being an excellent electrical conductor, graphene is also extremely feasible for electronics as well. The unusual electronic properties of graphene are because its electrons are able to move faster and are incredibly mobile. It makes it an excellent future alternate that can replace the conventional silicon used in computers and mobiles.

Optical properties of Graphene

The unusual optical properties of graphene make it extremely transparent. Being only an atom-thick, the material allows almost 98% of light to pass through; this is significantly better than the 80%-90% transparency seen with conventional glass panes.

Graphene is genuinely a wonder material. It is incredibly lightweight, yet sturdy. It has impressive electrical and thermally conductive properties. It is not only flexible and stiff but also allows almost complete transparency. These are the top wonderful properties of graphene which makes it a special and an indeed ‘wonder material’.

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