A Univ. of Arizona-led team of physicists has discovered how to change the crystal structure of graphene with an electric field, an important step toward the possible use of graphene in microprocessors that would be smaller and faster than current, silicon-based technology.
Graphene consists of extremely thin sheets of graphite: when writing with a pencil, graphene sheets slough off the pencil’s graphite core and stick to the page. If placed under a high-powered electron microscope, graphene reveals its sheet-like structure of cross-linked carbon atoms, resembling chicken wire. When manipulated by an electric field, parts of the material are transformed from behaving as a metal to behaving as a semiconductor, the UA physicists found.
Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic. This makes it a perfect candidate material for transparent contact layers for use in solar cells to conduct electricity without reducing the amount of incoming light — at least in theory. Whether or not this holds true in a real world setting is questionable as there is no such thing as “ideal” graphene — a free floating, flat honeycomb structure consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms: interactions with adjacent layers can change graphene’s properties dramatically. Now, Marc Gluba and Prof. Norbert Nickel of the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film. These findings have paved the way for entirely new possibilities to use in thin-film photovoltaics.
I still think Graphene will play a major part in the future of materials - Its just having a rather slow rollout.
Researchers at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have created composite materials using graphene that are up to 500 times stronger than the raw, non-composite material. This is the first time that graphene has been successfully used to create strong composite materials — and due to the tiny amounts of graphene used (just 0.00004% by weight) this breakthrough could lead to much faster commercial adoption than pure graphene, which is still incredibly hard to produce in large quantities.
Graphene Aerogel — Lightest Solid Material Ever Developed
Because aerogels are porous they are ultra-light materials and this one is 100 times lighter than Polystyrene foam cups and can help clean up pollutants like toluene and crude oil (other oils as well) and other compounds like ethanol. Researchers are planning to look at the materials ability for insulating and sound proofing in the future.
Previous records for lightest materials were 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter in 2011, 0.18 mg/cm3 in 2012, and now this material at 0.16 mg/cm3.
Kostya Novoselov has the tour down pat. After a friendly introduction, visitors are whisked to a clean room so that they can repeat the experiment that helped to win him a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. The important bit can be done in seconds: press some sticky tape onto a chunk of graphite, then press it again onto an ultraclean silicon wafer. Peel it off, and some of the silver flakes dotting the wafer’s surface are atom-thick sheets of honeycombed carbon known as graphene.
Graphene, an ordered monolayer of carbon, is the thinnest substance known, and yet has extraordinary mechanical strength. A new study shows that its two-dimensional network of atoms can even trap light.
Graphene, a monolayer of carbon in which the atoms are arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb…