Graphene Is Going to Change the World

Graphene on copper substrate.
Graphene is grown on a large crystaline structure of a copper substrate. Graphene is the thinnest and strongest substance known and possibilities of using graphene will revolutionize the world.

Graphene is the world’s lightest and strongest material and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado has just realized that it is going to change the world as we know it.

Researchers at the Institute have recently devised a method of generating the extremely thin material on copper film. As rare-earth-metals become more and more expensive and scarce, graphene might provide the solution to a myriad of technologies.

Some uses of graphene range from the inclusion in electronics, sensors, and solar cells to increasing speeds of the Internet, and medical technologies. The reason the thin material is just making an appearance now, is due to it being too difficult to produce in the thin layers required. That is, until the NIST researchers made their huge discovery.

To create the extremely thin layer of graphene, the NIST team used a two-step process. First, copper is deposited on sapphire wafers which are at room temperature. Then it is annealed at the melting temperature of the copper. The process of annealing consists of a heat treatment that alters the material to make it more ductile and workable. The annealing process is most common in material sciences in metallurgy. By using this two-step process, the NIST team was successful in growing graphene grains on the copper substrate that were only 0.2 millimeters in size.

NIST researcher, Mark Keller, stated that in the past the problems they encountered were most of the films had the inability to survive the stage of graphene growth needed to produce wafer-scale graphene devices.

The most promising use for the graphene production is for using it in new electronic circuits and optical devices. Both uses would require very thin profiles and NIST’s latest discovery is likely going to change the world of electronics and optics in the near future.

Graphene crystal growth
Graphene crystals being grown on a copper substrate.

The amazing potential of graphene has been know for a while, but its production in the thin profile was thought to be impossible. Graphene is the strongest material known to date and coupled with its properties of being a great conductor of electricity will make it more than perfect for use in electronics and electronic device production.

Graphene has the potential of being grown to a mere thickness of only one atom. To say the substance is space-age is not telling a lie, as future astronauts will be able to explore space in much thinner and stronger graphene space suits.

The amazing properties of graphene don’t just stop there. Graphene is nontoxic, inexpensive and completely transparent. When combined with its ability to conduct electricity, these features would make it perfect for use in the future production of solar cells. The graphene would allow light to shine through it, while still being able to conduct the electronic flow required for solar cells to operate more efficiently.

What aided the NIST discovery was the copper substrate itself. Previously scientists had challenges in making graphene due to the high heat that was needed while other substrates would fail before the graphene would grow. The copper used in the NIST study contains crystalline grains that are massive in comparison to any microelectronic standards. The bulk of the crystalline grains were big enough to survive the high temperatures required for the graphene to grow. The ideal film thickness of graphene is less than one micrometer and the crystalline copper grains are about 10,000 times larger.

This graphene growth process at NIST may just be one of the most important discoveries to advance the technology world. Many materials that high-tech manufacturers are accustomed to are now going to change.

By Brent Matsalla

National Monitor
French Tribune
TG Daily
Phys Org

13 Responses to "Graphene Is Going to Change the World"

  1. EnBuenOra Science (@EnBuenOra_Sci)   December 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I would urge those who are curious to think of graphene more than as a material–though it is a material and an amazingly impressive one–more as an example of the material realization of accumulating knowledge and skill by humans of understanding, interacting with, and making use of the properties of materials (and their interaction with energy) in ways we have not done so before.

    Graphene was always there. It’s only because we knew to look for it, knew that it might have special properties, that we ‘discovered’ it.

  2. George Moore   December 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    And Who got the Nobel Prize for producing a single layer of Graphene using Scotch Tape?? And in what subject and what year? I think this should have been mentioned!

  3. Mary Madden   December 8, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Maybe this is the material that was discovered at the Roswell crash site, having come from the future.

    • Cormac Mccarthy   December 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      jesus christ, get an education.

  4. Norman C. Berns   December 8, 2013 at 1:56 am

    What a bizarre article. Fawning and repetitious, full of gee-gosh enthusiasm without an iota of support, jammed with hyperbole, it reads like pap from some PR cheerleaders squad.

  5. Joe s. In california   December 8, 2013 at 1:11 am

    Very interesting. I wonder if it could be used to mint coins. How cool would a coin made of this be? Sorry, i love coins. Thanks for good article

  6. Brian Dodson   December 8, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Not only is this a horribly written article, but is packed full of errors when it comes to the science. The author should quit writing, if this is the best he can do!

  7. Caleb MacLachlan   December 8, 2013 at 1:04 am

    This article is poorly written. The attempts to sound scientific have the exact opposite effect. This felt a lot more like a poorly written investment pitch for a scam. I hope Graphene turns out to be all that, but at least give us the two sides of the story, perhaps some alternate perspective. What are the critics of this study saying? What about actual commercial viability?

  8. Saleem   December 8, 2013 at 12:08 am

    I had previously encountered Graphene as an architecture student, and I remember the amazing designs students came up with using it’s theoretical properties. The building engineering world will never be the same – Saleem

  9. Kitty Arendse   December 7, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Goodmorning from Huizen Holland, Just saw that my son living in the States, had read your article, about this exciting discovery HOW TOO IN THE FUTURE! And here I am his mam as excited as he is, even if I have no science oriented brain, So thankyou for an article that got even a dingbat like me all.. wow in early sunday morn’s hours. You have a great day too!kitty

    • Brent Matsalla   December 7, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks for all your kind words Kitty, and you have an awesome day too!

  10. arthurpaulkaske   December 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    I am a ceramist, and I have heard of the graphene product. I’m really jacked to know more about the potential of graphene

    • Brent Matsalla   December 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      It seems to be a product that a lot of scientists dreamed of using in the future, but they ran into walls in the production. This discovery is pretty exciting. If we think our devices are small now, just wait until graphene is in full production.

      Thanks for commenting Arthur!


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