Top 10 Uses For Graphene
Graphene is a crystallized form of carbon, much like diamonds, that has its carbon atoms arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern.
This one atom thick layer of mineral graphite is light, strong and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. Its unique properties allow its use in many applications. This is a short list of some of the areas which have shown some interesting applications of graphene.
- Ultracapacitors – Graphene’s unique properties make it a great material for storing electrical energy. An article in the MIT Technology Review indicates that Korea has developed the technology to a point where they feel a graphene supercapacitors can be used in electric vehicles. Imagine being able to recharge an electric vehicle in 16 seconds as opposed to hours.
- Medicine – Graphene can enhance Polymearase chain reaction (PCR) through its thermal properties thereby increasing the amount of DNA product produced by each PCR cycle, reducing the cycles required by as much as 65%.
- Desalination – Current research indicates that graphene filters can outperform current technology significantly. Imagine what that would mean to providing potable water to countries with water challenges.
- Solar cells – Graphene has excellent electrical conductivity and optical transparency making it a great candidate for use in solar cells. Coupled with its capacitive capabilities it’s not difficult to imagine graphene used not only to collect energy but store it.
- Transparent conducting electrodes – The flexibility of the material, coupled with the optical transparency and conductive properties make graphene a good solution for applications such as touch screens, liquid crystal displays, organic photovoltaic cells and organic light emitting diodes.
- Computer chips – Because graphene can be used for integrated circuits or transistors, it’s entirely feasible for graphene to be used for this application. Considering that the material is a single atom thick it’s entirely possible to achieve denser, more powerful chips that require less electricity.
- Optical storage – What’s exciting about this is that graphene can provide the ability to develop holographic storage with orders of magnitude more capacity than current blu-ray technology. Australian researchers report that they’re reaching a density of 3.2 terabits per cubic inch; a significant improvement over current hard drive capacities which are just approaching 1 terabit per cubic inch.
- Additive to coolants – Because of its excellent thermal properties, graphene used as an additive to coolants can improve the conductivity of the coolant by 86%.
- Thermal management materials – A three dimensional multilayer graphene structure can be used as a thermal conductor to remove heat from circuitry.
- Ethanol distillation – Graphene oxide membranes allow water vapor to pass through it while impermeable to all other liquids and gases including helium. This makes it excellent for use in distilling liquids without adding heat or vacuum to the process making the production of biofuels more economical.
There are other related uses for graphene that I’ve not addressed in this article. Many of the electrical applications include amplification of different types of signals and determining how the material reacts to magnetism. More and more research is being conducted to determine other applications for this material especially when combined with other materials.
(Image Credit – Pomona College )
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