Graphene is a new carbon material. The theory of graphene was first explored by P. R. Wallace in 1947. Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim were the first to make graphene in 2004, an achievement for which they received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
Since then tremendous effort has been made to be able to produce graphene on a large scale. The first successful efforts at commercial production started in 2014 and production volumes and efficiency increase ever year, making graphene available for an array of applications.
Graphene is a two-dimensional atomic-scale material, that is made of a single layer of carbon atoms that have a high level of cohesion through hybridisation bonds sp2 and arranged in a uniform surface. It is slightly undulating with a similar appearance to that of a honeycomb lattice because of its hexagonal configuration. Graphene is an allotropic form of carbon such as graphite or diamond. Graphene is very thin; to give you a perspective, one millimeter of graphite contains three million layers of graphene.
Graphene is the strongest material known in nature, stronger than structural steel with the same density and even harder than diamond, and at the same time, it has a thickness that varies between 1 and 10 carbon atoms. Because of its thinness, this material is considered two-dimensional; it is the only material that can remain stable at just one atom thick.
Graphene is also elastic and flexible, and processes great electrical and thermal conductivity properties. This allows for heat dissipation and allows graphene to withstand intense electrical currents without heating. Graphene is virtually transparent, waterproof and so dense that not even helium can pass through it.
It is important to note that graphene is pure carbon and therefor abundantly available in nature and ecologically friendly.
These properties make graphene an ideal material for medical and dental applications.
Features of Graphene
- It is pure carbon.
- It is two-dimensional, and 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.
- It is the strongest material of nature, 200 times stronger than structural steel at the same density.
- It is more scratch resistant than diamond.
- It is elastic and more flexible than fiber carbon.
- 1 square meter weighs less than 1 gram
- It is chemically inert, does not react with oxygen in the air and does not oxidize.
- It is virtually transparent to light, because optical absorption of a single layer of graphene is only ~2,3% in the visible spectrum.
- It has a high thermal and electric conductivity, greater than that of copper or silver.
- It heats up less when carrying electrons (lower Joule effect) and consumes less electricity than silicon for the same task.
- It works as a frequency multiplier, therefore making it possible to work at high clock frequencies.
- It is biocompatible and non-toxic for biological cells.
- It is bacteriostatic and promotes the growth of cells. Bacteria do not develop in it, so it can be used in biomedicine.