Graphene: 5 facts about a new form of carbon and the prospects

Graphene News

Scientists Geim and Novoselov received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of a new form of carbon, which they called graphene. This is really an absolutely amazing two-dimensional substance, which immediately received the title of the thinnest substance in the world. This is a film that has a thickness of one atom, and all the atoms in it are carbon atoms. We knew about the existence of diamond, graphite, amorphous carbon, and so on, but there was no such form yet.

1. Unique properties of graphene

A technical breakthrough based on graphene is possible because this thinnest substance in the world can simultaneously possess several very important and unique electronic and electrical properties at once. Firstly, this substance can be an excellent conductor, since it consists of chains of carbon hexagons, through which electric current is very easily transmitted. Secondly, with some modification, graphene can be an effective insulator. You can make a microcircuit, which consists of conductors, semiconductors and insulators. Each of these characteristics of a substance can be achieved on the basis of graphene.

2. How a new form of carbon was obtained

This substance was obtained in an absolutely amazing way. The researchers took ordinary graphite, like the one that can be pulled out of a pencil, glued tape to it and peeled it off. Graphite particles remained on the adhesive tape, and it was also expected that there would be particles of new forms of graphite, which they examined under a microscope. Indeed, among a large number of ordinary graphite particles, they found particles of a new form of carbon. It turns out that this amazing experiment was done literally on the knee. Only later, when they began to study graphene in more detail, it turned out that it has unique properties, which is not surprising, since a substance one atom thick cannot be ordinary.

Previously, nothing was known about such substances. Scientists say that with the use of graphene there will be a revolution in all electronics, and this new form of carbon will replace silicon in all electronic devices, in billions of microcircuits, and if this happens, it will be a grand practical application of a grand discovery.

3. Application of a new form of carbon

It is possible from practically one substance – the most ordinary carbon, which is on Earth in huge quantities – to receive all electronic devices based on microcircuits. Therein lies its uniqueness. For example, only the semiconductor part of electronic devices can be made from silicon. Everything can be made from graphene.

The initial way to get it is very simple, here the cunning of scientists was manifested, who usually face difficulties in working without modern instruments and devices, as well as with funding, so they are forced to come up with some simple ways to achieve results. Geim and Novoselov succeeded in doing this.

It is important to note that usually the Nobel Prizes in natural sciences are given for discoveries made a long time ago. Time must pass for the discovery to be realized, put into practice, so that it becomes clear that the results of the research enjoy great attention from other researchers, and so on. In this case, the prize was given a few years after the actual discovery, which was considered very unusual.

4. Using graphene instead of plastic and plastic

Graphene can replace a large number of polymers that are used in the production of food packaging, for transporting heavy objects, and for the production of any plastic products. Graphene is very convenient to use in this area because one of the big problems with the use of plastic and plastic is recycling. It cannot be burned, because dangerous substances are obtained that do not rot and remain in the ground almost forever. What to do about it is not yet very clear, and a lot of money is being spent on solving this problem. If we move from ordinary polymers to graphene polymers, then this problem will disappear, since pure carbon is simply a delicacy for putrefactive microorganisms.

5. Prospects for the use of graphene

Now there is a lot of graphene. Usually, after such discoveries, ways to obtain large quantities of a given substance are found very quickly. It is currently quite difficult to predict exactly where this new form of carbon will be used. When scientists do basic science, they are the last thing they think about applying the data they have obtained. They discover new laws of nature, matter or phenomena with the expectation that then someone will come up with how it can be used. But, since quite a lot is known about graphene, some predictions can be made. For example, it is quite possible that this form of carbon could soon be used to make all kinds of fabrics and clothing.


Alexander Stephenson

Candidate of Chemical Sciences, editor-in-chief of Lecturer at several international online schools, member of the jury of chemistry competitions and author of scientific articles.

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