Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern. Graphene is considered to be the world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive material - to both electricity and heat. All this properties are exciting researchers and businesses around the world - as graphene has the potential the revolutionize entire industries - in the fields of electricity, conductivity, energy generation, batteries, sensors and more.

Mechanical strength

Graphene is the world's strongest material, and so can be used to enhance the strength of other materials. Dozens of researches have demonstrated that adding even a trade amount of graphene to plastics, metals or other materials can make these materials much stronger - or lighter (as you can use less amount of material to achieve the same strength).

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Such graphene-enhanced composite materials can find uses in aerospace, building materials, mobile devices, and many other applications.

Thermal applications

Graphene is the world's most conductive material to heat. As graphene is also strong and light, it means that it is a great material to make heat-spreading solutions, such as heat sinks. This could be useful in both microelectronics (for example to make LED lighting more efficient and longer lasting) and also in larger applications - for example thermal foils for mobile devices.

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Energy storage

Because graphene is the world's thinnest material, it is also the material with the highest surface-area to volume ratio. This makes graphene a very promising material to be used in batteries and supercapacitors. Graphene may enable devices that can store more energy - and charge faster, too. Graphene can also be used to enhance fuel-cells.

Coatings ,sensors, electronics and more

Graphene has a lot of other promising applications: anti-corrosion coatings and paints, efficient and precise sensors, faster and efficient electronics, flexible displays, efficient solar panels, faster DNA sequencing, drug delivery, and more.

Graphene is such a great and basic building block that it seems that any industry can benefit from this new material. Time will tell where graphene will indeed make an impact - or whether other new materials will be more suitable.

Latest graphene application news

Vollebak launches a graphene-enhanced jacket

Vollebak, a sports gear manufacturer with an affinity towards using next-gen materials and technologies, is now selling (for 595 euros!) a graphene-enhanced jacket that according to the company, can perform functions like absorbing heat and then warming you up over time, conducting electricity, repelling bacteria, and dissipating your body’s excess humidity.

Vollebak's graphene-enhanced jacket image

The process of developing Vollebak’s jacket, according to the company’s cofounders, brothers Steve and Nick Tidball, took years of intensive research. The jacket is reportedly made out of a two-sided material, which the company invented during the extensive R&D process. The graphene side is gray, while the other side appears matte black. To create it, the scientists turned raw graphite into graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) that were then blended with polyurethane to create a membrane. That, in turn, is bonded to nylon to form the other side of the material, which Vollebak says alters the properties of the nylon itself. “Adding graphene to the nylon fundamentally changes its mechanical and chemical properties–a nylon fabric that couldn’t naturally conduct heat or energy, for instance, now can,” the company claims.

China-US team uses graphene composite separator to achieve robust Li-S batteries

A team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and University of California in the US, along with teams from the University of Electronic Science and Technology, Hunan University and Soochow University in China, report the design of a negatively charged graphene composite separator for the effective suppression of the polysulfide shuttling effect in Li-sulfur batteries. The negatively charged 3D porous structure effectively inhibits the translocation of negatively charged polysulfide ions to enable highly robust Li-S batteries.

China-US team uses graphene composite separator to suppress polysulfide shuttling in Li-S batteries image

In their paper, the researchers show that by using a reduced graphene oxide (rGO)/sodium lignosulfonate (SL) composite on the standard polypropylene (PP) separator (rGO@SL/PP), they demonstrated a highly robust Li-S battery with a capacity retention of 74% over 1,000 cycles.

Graphene Batteries Market Report

NUS and Boreal test graphene's properties after a launch into the stratosphere

The Centre for Advanced Two-Dimensional Materials (CA2DM) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has joined forces with US-based aerospace company Boreal Space to test the properties of graphene after it has been launched into the stratosphere. The results could provide insights into how graphene could be used for space and satellite technologies.

"Graphene's usefulness on Earth has already been established in the last decade. It is now an opportune time to expand its prospects for use in space applications—an area touted as being the most challenging to modern technology—and shift the paradigm of materials science. Space is the final frontier for graphene research, and I believe this is the first time that graphene has entered the stratosphere," said project leader Professor Antonio Castro Neto, Director of NUS CA2DM.

Rumors suggest that Huawei's Honor Magic 2 will use a graphene-based battery

According to the latest rumors, Huawei's upcoming Honor Magic 2 smartphone (that will be launched in December 2018) will feature a graphene-enhanced battery, made by Huawei itself. Interestingly, Huawei's graphene battery will have about 45% of the capacity compared to regular Li-Ion ones, but it will be able to charge extremely fast - in about 12 minutes (for a 3,000 mAh battery). The graphene battery is almost double that of a Li-Ion one.

These are just rumors at this stage, and we have no way to verify them. We do know that Huawei is working on graphene technologies for a long time, and has even launched a commercial graphene-enhanced battery in 2016 - in which the graphene is used to extend the battery's operational temperature range.

Researchers manipulate the width of GNRs to create quantum chains that could be used for nano-transistors and quantum computing

Researchers at EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), along with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz and other partners, have succeeded in precisely controlling the properties of graphene nano-ribbons (GNRs) by specifically varying their shape. This can be used to generate specific local quantum states, and could in the future be used for precise nano-transistors or possibly even quantum computing.

Researchers manipulate the width of GNRs to create quantum chains that could be used for nano-transistors and quantum computing image

The team has shown that if the width of a narrow graphene nano-ribbon changes, in this case from seven to nine atoms, a special zone is created at the transition: because the electronic properties of the two areas differ in a special, topological way, a "protected" and thus very robust new quantum state is created in the transition zone. This local electronic quantum state can be used as a basic component to produce tailor-made semiconductors, metals or insulators - and perhaps even as a component in quantum computers.

XFNANO: Graphene and graphene-like materials since 2009XFNANO: Graphene and graphene-like materials since 2009