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2020-01-10 12:31
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Graphene: Future Material ?

As the grandson of carbon, the thread of graphite, graphene is the new material that could well revolutionize the industry. Energy storage, flexible touch screens for computers or foldable smartphones, solar panels, lightweight and ultra-resistant bodywork for the automotive, aeronautics, nanosciences and nanotechnologies… Its field of applications seems endless!

Graphite, derived from carbon, is, like yarrow, composed of very many thin layers of graphene. Graphene was isolated only in 2004 by Andre Geim, a researcher in the Department of Physics at the University of Manchester, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for this work with Konstantin Novoselov.



Graphene : An unequalled titan

Graphene shines with its impressive physical properties: transparent, it is stronger than diamond, 300 times stronger than steel, a million times smaller than a hair. Semiconductor or double-layer superconductor, it has a higher conductivity than copper and can be twisted without risk of rupture.

In 2016, a team of researchers from the University of Arkansas focused on the movements of graphene. Because it’s a moving material! Indeed, the atoms that compose it bend and vibrate, to move from a two-dimensional model to a three-dimensional model. These mysterious movements produce energy – a revolutionary scientific discovery that could create autonomous and non-polluting electronic objects. And thus to significantly reduce the volume of electronic waste (no less than 44 million tonnes in 2016, of which only 20% is recycled).



All-purpose nanomaterial

atomic view of the graphene molecule and its different states

With graphene, anything is possible! This is a clear sign: the major players are interested, starting with the Korean giant Samsung, which is developing a graphene battery that can be recharged in just 12 minutes without overheating. The British company FlexEnable manufactures flexible screens so thin that they can be wrapped around a pencil. The start-up Zap&Co has developed a prototype wireless charger for smartphones and graphene tablets. Charging time: 5 minutes.

A MIT team has created a graphene membrane system that would allow, for example, seawater to be filtered to make it drinkable. On its website, the University of Manchester lists all possible theoretical applications. It makes you dizzy! The public authorities are not to be outdone: Europe has launched “The Graphene Flagship”, a centre for the pooling of university and industrial research work, financed to the tune of one billion euros over 10 years.



What is the price of graphene?

Another illustration of the polymer used in graphene

But for the moment, graphene production is far from being industrial. Its cost is still very high (we are talking about 100 € per gram – for comparison, gold is currently around 35 € per gram). We will therefore have to wait a little longer before seeing graphene invade our daily lives….









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