“Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.”- John F. Kennedy
“Graphene” is a sort of incredible research-based material with amazing utilities, first separated as a single atom layer from the stacked layers of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms of conventional graphite crystals known as “pencil lead” at The University of Manchester in 2004. Its physical properties including extreme flexibility, high elasticity, transparency, impermeability, high tensile strength and thinnest texture lighter than a human hair render it an exceptionally useful material for daily and commercial use. It’s also an amazing conductor of both heat and electricity. Considerable insight into the amazing properties of graphene has led to many prospective uses, including but not limited to graphene membranes for energy-efficient water filtration and detoxification; high-strength graphene-based amalgam materials for use in lightweight energy-efficient cars and aircraft; graphene supercapacitors for power storage; and faster transistors.
This material is ten times stronger than commercial steel with just 5% the density of the metal. By converting the material into a 3D configuration, using heat and compression under high pressure, a unique sponge-like material with a high surface area to volume ratio known as “gyroids” is generated. The spongy nature of the material makes it suitable for water or chemical filtration systems. Graphene aerogels can soak up 900 times their weight, utilized in cleaning up oil spills.
By understanding the physics of electrons flow in graphene, the “superballistic” viscous flow renders this material an excellent conducting material for electricity with electrons virtually moving at the speed of light. Computers based on graphene transistors have the potential to be thousands of times faster than their silicon-based equivalents. Graphene can serve as a cost-effective “copy machine” to transfer intricate crystalline patterns from an underlying semiconductor wafer to a top layer of identical material.
Enlisting all the wonderful uses of graphene will consume enormous time and energy. In short, graphene laden batteries can impart better charging times, conductivity, cycle durability, and storage capacity. By loading the electric vehicles with graphene-based supercapacitor films, the need for batteries could potentially be eradicated. Researchers have developed flexible, transparent solar cells that could be installed anywhere for efficient energy storage purposes. Graphene inks can print electronic circuits onto polyester fabrics, with a wide range of applications. Incorporating graphene into concrete can increase its durability and strength for building materials. Wallpaper incorporating graphene-based ink can detect fire and automatically trigger a fire alarm.
In the field of medicine, a layer of graphene added to a medical implant can prevent microbial infestation and reduce the rejection rates in transplanted cases. Graphene can be used for making highly-sensitive liquid sensors to track babies’ heart and breathing rates. Flat lenses made from gold covered with graphene can control and reflect light. The evolving research has created a novel superhard material with two-layer graphene stacks under high compression called “Diamene” with its strength comparable to diamond. It can be utilized in producing ultra-light bullet-proof films.
Lastly, emphasizing the few common uses of graphene serves as the tip of the iceberg, remember technology brings hurdles hidden under its cover too. One substantial challenge is the reproducibility of its products at an industrial scale. However, the cost-effectiveness of graphene-based products will serve as the cornerstone for exploring its utility in the industrial as well as medical science fields.
“I am amazed at the wonders of technology and am grateful for how we can use it to share the Gospel around the world.” -Billy Graham
The article has been co-authored by Dr Aitzaz Bin Sultan Rai and Dr Maimoona Siddique.