Article last updated on: Jan 23, 2019

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).

applications of composites image

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.

graphene-bulb-demonstration-image



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.

The latest Graphene Application news:

Researchers gain a better understanding of heat distribution processes

Understanding atomic level processes can open a wide range of prospects in nanoelectronics and material engineering. A team of scientists from Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) recently suggested such a model, that describes the distribution of heat in ultrapure crystals at the atomic level.

The distribution of heat in nanostructures is not regulated by the laws that apply to conventional materials. This effect is most vividly expressed in the reaction between graphene and a laser-generated heat point source.

Graphene to enable super-resolution microscopy

Researchers at the University of Göttingen have developed a new method that utilizes the unusual properties of graphene to electromagnetically interact with fluorescing (light-emitting) molecules. This method allows scientists to optically measure extremely small distances, in the order of 1 ångström (one ten-billionth of a meter) with high accuracy and reproducibility for the first time. This enabled researchers to optically measure the thickness of lipid bilayers, the stuff that makes the membranes of all living cells.

Single molecules successfully demostrated imageOn the left: Image of single molecules on the graphene sheet. Such images allow scientists to determine the position and orientation for each molecule. Comparison with the expected image (right) shows excellent agreement. Credit: University of Göttingen

The University of Göttingen team, led by Professor Enderlein, used a single sheet of graphene, just one atom thick (0.34 nm), to modulate the emission of light-emitting (fluorescent) molecules when they came close to the graphene sheet. The excellent optical transparency of graphene and its capability to modulate through space the molecules' emission made it an extremely sensitive tool for measuring the distance of single molecules from the graphene sheet. The accuracy of this method is so good that even the slightest distance changes of around 1 ångström (this is about the diameter of an atom or half a millionth of a human hair) can be resolved. The scientists were able to show this by depositing single molecules above a graphene layer. They could then determine their distance by monitoring and evaluating their light emission.

Researchers manage to grow GNRs directly on top of silicon wafers

Scientist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison are working towards making more powerful computers a reality. To that end, they have devised a method to grow tiny ribbons of graphene directly on top of silicon wafers. Graphene ribbons have a special advantage over graphene sheets - they become excellent semiconductors.

Graphene ribbons grown on silicon achieved by U of WM team imageGraphene nanoribbons on silicon wafers could help lead the way toward super fast computer chips. Image courtesy of Mike Arnold

“Compared to current technology, this could enable faster, low power devices,” says Vivek Saraswat, a PhD student in materials science and engineering at UW-Madison. “It could help you pack in more transistors onto chips and continue Moore’s law into the future”. The advance could enable graphene-based integrated circuits, with much improved performance over today’s silicon chips.

First Graphene wins major production order for mining wear linings

First Graphene logo imageFirst Graphene recently signed a new agreement with newGen for the supply of three tonnes of its PureGRAPH products. These will be used by newGen for the manufacture of wear linings used in bucket wheels, pipe spools and conveyor applications in the mining industry. This continues the two Companies' cooperation in the field of graphene-enhanced products (primarily polyurethane liners) for the mining services industry.

Blending PureGRAPH graphene in powder form with existing elastomers reportedly provides considerable mechanical improvements to the material, including enhanced tensile and tear strength, plus far greater abrasion resistance. This extends the life of wear liners, significantly reducing downtime and cost for mining and quarrying operators.

Graphene oxide to help regenerate cartilage

Researchers from the University of Manchester have found that incorporating graphene oxide into three-dimensional scaffolds that support regenerating cartilage could offer a new means of delivering vital growth factors.

Schematic for GO-assisted chondrogenesis image

Damage to cartilage from injury or disease is difficult to remedy because of the material’s low capacity for self-repair. Future treatments hope to harness tissue-engineering approaches, introducing hydrogel scaffolds impregnated with stem cells that can proliferate and differentiate into chondrocytes, to make new cartilage. This strategy requires the appropriate biological cues to drive cell differentiation, but the results of various attempts to achieve sustained delivery of such signals have been disappointing.