WHAT IS GRAPHENE?

Graphene is a two-dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. The material is stronger than steel, harder than diamond and leads electricity better than copper. Scientist have known about graphene for over a hundred years, but it was not successfully isolated until 2004. Since then, strong research efforts have led to a broad knowledge of the material.

A UNIQUE MATERIAL…

Graphene possesses a unique combination of properties – it is the thinnest, strongest and lightest compound known to man. When graphene is mixed with other materials, its properties are transferred, creating a disruptive cocktail in materials technology.

…WITH SUPERIOR PROPERTIES

  • Hard – harder than diamond
  • Bendable – can adopt to any shape
  • Thin – only one molecular layer thick
  • Strong – 200-300 times stronger than steel
  • Impervious – comes in both solid, gas and liquid
  • Conductive – conducts electricity better than copper
  • Transparent – lets through most wavelengths of light
  • Lightweight – a sheet of one square meter weighs less than 1 mg

HISTORY

Graphene has been known since the mid-1800s, but it could not be produced until the early 2000s. A Friday night in Manchester 2004, scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov managed to capture the first crystals of graphene by using regular scotch tape and a piece of graphite. They were later awarded the Nobel prize in physics for their groundbreaking discovery.

Since the first successful attempt to isolate the material a huge research effort has generated a lot of new knowledge in the field. Graphene is a focus area at many university and corporate laboratories around the world, and the expectations on the material are high. For example, EU is investing € 1 billion over 10 years on research, a project called Graphene Flagship.

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