What is graphene and in what fields it can be used. Features and applications of graphene on a daily basis
We’ve all heard of graphene many times, on the radio, on TV, in the press … but do you really know what graphene is? Do you know where it is currently being applied? Today we tell you a little more about graphene and its applications. You will be surprised of all the properties that this material has, keep reading!
What is graphene?
Graphene is a material composed of carbon atoms grouping that are hexagonally positioned. This arrangement results in monolayers of an atom thick.
This material is part of one of the most abundant substances in nature, graphite (graphite can be found, for example, in the mines of our pencils). One millimeter of graphite contains three million layers of graphene.
Graphene is a substance with very interesting properties. These properties, together with the abundance of carbon in nature, have made graphene a very studied material with great possibilities.
The most outstanding properties of graphene are:
- High thermal conductivity
- High electrical conductivity
- High elasticity and flexibility
- High hardness
- High resistance. Graphene is approximately 200 times stronger than steel, similar to diamond resistance, but much lighter.
- Ionizing radiation is not affected
- Able to generate electricity by exposure to sunlight
- Transparent material
- High density which doesn’t let Helium atoms pass, but it does allow the passage of water, which evaporates at the same speed as if it were in an open container.
- Antibacterial effect. Bacteria are not able to grow in it.
- Low Joule effect, heating when conducting electrons.
- Low electricity consumption compared to other compounds
Due to the great properties mentioned above, graphene has applicability in numerous sectors, the most known are shown in the following figure.
In the field of electronics, graphene is used, for example, in the manufacture of microchips, transistors, development of conductive inks that allow the circuits printing.
Graphene can enhance the use of renewable energy, such as solar energy. By introducing this material into the solar panels it will be possible to increase its efficiency and produce more energy.
In the automotive sector, the use of graphene in batteries will increase its autonomy and reduce charging times, thus improving the performance of electric cars.
Real applications with graphene
In this section we show you several examples of products or materials in which graphene has been used in different products.
The first, and possibly the first practical and real application of graphene, was on safety labels. Do you know those iridescent colored labels that were attached, for example, in many clothing items? Surely you will have seen them many times and did not know that they had graphene! Thanks to graphene, this labels have a printed circuit that performs the alarm function and sounds if it is handled or if the label leaves the shop without safe disconnection. These labels can be wrinkled or folded without being damaged and the cost is very low, cents per label.
These inks offer multiple applications for the industry, ultra-flat electronic circuits offer endless possibilities!
Currently, in the sports sector there are already products that incorporate graphene in its composition. An example of this are paddle blades where graphene can be used both on the faces of the blade, on the impact surface, or on the frame, to make them more resistant and increase their duration. In addition, there is also the possibility of including graphene in the foam that forms the body of the blades. If you look at your blade you will see that many advertise it explicitly as a claim.
Another of the properties of graphene is the ability to detect minimal amounts of substances. Graphene is able to detect a single molecule in a large volume. These properties have been developed through graphene oxide and there are some medical companies that already sell their sensors with graphene.
In addition to medical applications, these sensors can also be used in environmental and safety studies.
To take into account with graphene
Currently, graphene has a series of handicaps to keep in mind that make it difficult to use in more products. The first of these is the technical difficulty to produce it on an industrial level, which has a great influence on its final price. The second problem, derived from the previous one, is the increase of products cost to which graphene is added.
The use of graphene has to be justified and not used because of ‘being fashionable’. It is a material with excellent properties but its price, depending on its grade, is at the moment high.
Despite this, we believe that graphene has great potential for use, as we have seen, in multiple sectors and in turn in very diverse applications.
In ATRIA we have experience in graphene additivation to different polymers. For example, we have added a small amount of graphene to a polymer and with them we have been able to increase the strength of the product by 20%. Do you want to know if graphene could improve some property of your material? Do not know how to raise the initial phase of your project? We can help you!