All it took was a block and graphite and some sticky tape. It seems hard to fathom that such a simple experiment could result in something so complex, and yet that is exactly what happened.
While it has been theorized since the 1940’s that graphene, a substance which resembles a thin honeycomb under the microscope, could theoretically exist – after much experimentation in the 1960’s many scientists had given up on the idea. For years after most believed that the existence of graphene was not only inplausible, but impossible. Then in 2004, researchers performed a simple experiment which changed the way science would forever view this very real substance. By applying sticky tape to a block of graphite, scientists were able to remove a layer of graphene for the first time, thereby demonstrating to the world that it not only exists, but could be transfered to other substances as well.
Since it’s discovery, scientists around the world have been experimenting with graphene, seeking to better understand it and understand it’s possible applications in the world of science and technology. Most notable among these researchers are the nobel-prize winning scientists from the University of Manchester. Led by Andre Geim, a team of researchers at UM have been studying the properties of graphene, and hypothezing potential applications for this newly discovered material.
What’s been discovered so far?
Graphene is the thinnest substance known to man. It is what scientists are calling a “new class of substance”. Graphene has only 2 dimensions, instead of the three we observe in other substances in the world around us. Composed of only one atom, graphene is demonstrated to have length and width, but no depth.
Graphene is the strongest substance known to man. It may seem impossible, but this two-dimensional material is stronger even than the diamond.
Graphene demonstrates the highest currently known rate of conductivity, or rate of electron flow through the substance.
Although graphene is stronger than a diamand, it is still incredibly elastic, and can be stretched in a rubber-like fashion. It is also non-corosive and resists damage from both acid and alkaline substances.
The potential applications for this newly discovered substance are far-reaching. Some of them include:
*Touch screen technology
*Satellite and space technology
As further research is done on this material, researchers expect new discoveries to be made and new applications to emmerge in time. While we may not begin to see graphene used in commercial products this year, the discovery of this new and remarkable substance will definately change the course of history and is bound to better the world in ways we have yet to imagine.
Reuters: Graphene’s impact may take time to show
By Kate Kelland LONDON | Tue Oct 5, 2010 8:03pm IST