In the 1920s and 1930s plastic was propounded as a versatile material with a vast array of possibilities. Now as we try to reduce our plastic usage and move to a more versatile “wonder material”, utilizing and developing graphene-based items is a real possible step in that direction. Graphene is a compound similar to coal, graphite or diamond but that differs in the rearrangement of carbon atoms and the unique shape it is able to take on. When we think of a chunk of a diamond- you typically picture the 3D version with an x,y, and z dimensionality present. So how does graphene differ from these other compounds? A Noble Prize was awarded in 2010 for this discovery.
So what exactly is the appeal?:
Graphene uniquely lacks a “z-dimension.” The graphene’s carbons are also arranged in tessellated hexagons similar to the interlocking nature of a mosaic. It is a material that is: incredibly light, retains an incredible strength, can conduct electricity well, and is flexible. This material also is able to withstand extreme heat to extreme cold without expanding and contracting like rubber. This makes it an incredibly useful tool for space exploration. Furthermore, as a wearable electronic being developed it is able to be ironed, wrinkled and washed without damaging any circuitry. It’s a real possibility that you could wear an article of clothing, with the help of graphene, that has technology embedded in it. As someone that loves my fitbit, which is only waterproof, I’m sure the addition of such features on wearable electronics would have vast appeal. While it is certainly appealing for its possibilities and its long-term durability, its strength could make it unappealing for manufacturers that benefit on a consumer’s need to always upgrade to the newest and best.
What are some recent advancements? :
“From Website: Another example is LFP ( Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries, that is a kind of rechargeable Li-ion battery. It has a lower energy density than other Li-ion batteries but a higher power density (an indicator of of the rate at which energy can be supplied by the battery). Enhancing LFP cathodes with graphene allowed the batteries to be lightweight, charge much faster than Li-ion batteries and have a greater capacity than conventional LFP batteries. (From: https://www.graphene-info.com/graphene-batteries)
There is current development on the synthesis of graphene printed ink on wearable products. This is still in progress, but has the proposed process of synthesis is shown above.
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The Noble Prize was awarded in 2010 for this discovery. Since then labs all over the world have commenced work on developing affordable ways to incorporate Graphene into improving various fields and existing technologies.
(1) Why graphene hasn’t taken over the world…yet