April 11, 2014
'Miracle material' graphene one step closer to commercial use (Euan McKirdy, 4/10/14, CNN)
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2014 5:07 AMAs well as being super-strong -- 20 times stronger than diamond, 200 stronger than steel and six times lighter -- it is also remarkably conductive, both electrically and thermally.If that wasn't enough, it is also almost perfectly transparent, impermeable to gas, and its properties are, scientists say, easily alterable.Graphene is one form -- an allotrope -- of carbon, the basis of all life on earth. More familiar carbon allotropes include diamonds and graphite. What makes it unique is its thinness -- at one atom thick it is as good as two-dimensional. Its flexibility means that it could potentially be used for flexible or wearable devices."Graphene has a lot of potential, especially in terms of industrial applications for optical and electronic devices," says Ping Sheng, a Professor of Nanoscience at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology."The caveat is really in the quality of the graphene that can be produced on a large scale ... If they can overcome that then it will be a big breakthrough."Another byproduct of its remarkable thinness is its low weight. It could be used to create ultra-light components for, say, the aviation industry, dramatically reducing the weight of aircraft -- and thus significantly improving fuel efficiency -- without compromising strength or integrity.