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.

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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.

The latest Graphene Application news:

Graphene oxide layers made to mimic biological channels may clean up pharmaceuticals production

KAUST researchers have tailored the structure of graphene-oxide layers to mimic the shape of biological channels, creating ultra-thin membranes to rapidly separate chemical mixtures. This may have the potential to inspire new materials to clean up chemical and pharmaceutical production.

2D-dual-spacing channel membranes for high performance organic solvent nanofiltration image

"In making pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, separating mixtures of organic molecules is an essential and tedious task," says Shaofei Wang, postdoctoral researcher in Suzana Nuñes lab at KAUST. One option to make these chemical separations faster and more efficient is through selectively permeable membranes, which feature tailored nanoscale channels that separate molecules by size.

Graphene oxide assists in purifying water without chlorination

Scientists from the National University of Science and Technology "MISIS" together with their colleagues from Derzhavin Tambov State University and Saratov Chernyshevsky State University have shown a way for graphene oxide to purify water, making it drinkable, without further chlorination. "Capturing" bacterial cells, it forms flakes that can be easily extracted from the water.

Graphene oxide helps purify water image1) Graphene oxide, added in water 2) Water after purification with graphene oxide 3) Graphene oxide 'flakes' with bacteria before extraction

The team has conducted an experiment, injecting graphene oxide into solutions (nutrient medium and the saline) containing E.coli. Under the terms of the experiment, saline "simulated" water, and the nutrient medium simulated human body medium. The results showed that the graphene oxide along with the living and the destroyed bacteria form flakes inside the solutions. The resulting mass can be easily extracted, making water almost completely free of bacteria. If the extracted mass is then treated with ultrasound, the graphene can be separated and reused.

New graphene fiber combines the electrical properties of an electrode with the mechanical properties of a suture

Engineers at the University of Wollongong are collaborating with surgeons at the University of Texas at Dallas to develop materials that can provide targeted medical treatment. An emerging field called electroceuticals, where electrical stimulation is used to modify the behavior of tissues and organs affected by illness, reportedly shows promise.

Part of this research focuses on utilizing new material developments and additive manufacturing techniques to develop implantable structures that can monitor, maintain and restore function in neural tissues. However, one of the biggest barriers is finding electrode materials that can be safely implanted in the body. Materials like metal are too rigid and can damage tissues.

Directa Plus extends graphene-enhanced clothing partnership with Alfredo Grassi

Directa Plus and clothing group Alfredo Grassi have extended their exclusive relationship to develop graphene-enhanced clothing for up to a further three years. The two companies will focus on the use of graphene to enhance military outerwear as well as work-wear for organizations like the Italian police and fire services.

Directa Plus graphene-enhanced textiles development with Grassi image

Directa Plus and Grassi have already been working together for three years and reportedly produced more than 80,000 meters of fabric enhanced with graphene.

Graphene ribbons could enable new designs for optical quantum computers

Scientists from the University of Vienna and the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona have shown that tailored graphene structures enable single photons to interact with each other, which could lead to new designs for optical quantum computers.

Photons barely interact with the environment, making them a leading candidate for storing and transmitting quantum information. However, this feature also makes it especially difficult to manipulate information that is encoded in photons. In order to build a photonic quantum computer, one photon must change the state of a second. Such a device is called a quantum logic gate, and millions of logic gates will be needed to build a quantum computer. One way to achieve this is to use a so-called 'nonlinear material' wherein two photons interact within the material. Unfortunately, standard nonlinear materials are far too inefficient to build a quantum logic gate.