One step closer to Graphene

If you don’t already know Graphene is a wonder material then well where have you been, under a rock!!

Although grapheme is a fairly new material its element is not uncommon in nature, it’s just crystalline allotrope of carbon with 2-dimensional properties. In graphene, carbon atoms are densely packed in a regular sp2-bonded atomic-scale chicken wire (hexagonal) pattern. Graphene can be described as a one-atom-thick layer of graphite.

To give you an idea of how awesome graphene is it can be used to give us the following technology in the future. In electronics due to its extreme conductivity, it could allow 1 Terabyte per second downloads and allow you to fully charge your electronics in 5 seconds! It can filter out salt from salt water and give us unbreakable smartphone screens and much more including bulletproof vests.


The only downside is Graphene is that it’s extremely hard to produce, in fact currently we can only produce 0.4 grams per hour. Until now that is, thanks to Irish scientists using an inventive method we can now produce Graphene at a rate of 100 grams per hour from a 10,000-litre vat.

The discovery comes from a team of scientists from Trinity College in Dublin who wanted to industrialise the process that had originally led to graphene’s discovery. The team from Dublin sought to speed up this shearing process by mixing together graphite powder, washing-up liquid and water and then blitzing it in a high-power blender for up to half an hour at a time. The resulting black goo contained large micrometre-sized flakes of Graphene suspended in the water.

The end product is not as high quality as that produced by labs growing the material out of vapour atom by atom, but the process could still be fantastically useful, with the resultant Graphene flakes suited for an array of applications. “It is a significant step forward towards cheap and scalable mass production,” Andrea Ferrari, an expert on Graphene at the University of Cambridge, told Nature. “The material is of a quality close to the best in the literature, but with production rates apparently hundreds of times higher.”

Early studies suggest that Coleman’s process could be scaled up from the kitchen blender-size to an industrial, 10,000-litre vat that could produce as much as 100 grams of Graphene per hour. Given that current rates of production do not exceed 0.4 grams per hour this would be a significant step forward.

We can’t wait for this wonder material to be realized as once it becomes cheap to manufacture we will see a massive leap forward in technology and much more. If you’re just graduating or at the start of your science degree we highly recommend putting a lot of effort into Graphene because whoever cracks this problem will be the toast of the science world and undoubtedly become filthy stinking rich.

Stay Curious – C.Costigan


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