What is Graphene?

Transparent of graphene application.

History

Before graphene, there was graphite, and most of us know that as the “stuff pencils are made out of”. Graphite is a 3-dimensional compound and for the longest time, scientists have always theorized that graphene could be isolated from graphite in a 2-dimensional form. In 2004, two scientists, Andrew Giem and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester, created the first sample of graphene. The two were polishing a sample of graphite with tape and noticed extremely thin flakes stuck to the tape. This inspired them to create the thinnest sample possible and as a result, our friend graphene was born. This discovery took the scientific world by storm and in 2010, the two scientists won the Nobel Prize.

Properties

As crazy as it may sound, graphene is as critical to human civilization as bronze, iron, and plastics. For a compound so thin, yet powerful, specialists are dubbing graphene as a “supermaterial”. An entire world of physics and engineering will open up to a new era of advancements once graphene can be produced at a large scale.

Graphene is truly amazing because of its many properties. It’s over 100x stronger than steel, incredibly thin at only one atom thick, almost completely transparent, light as a feather, and the absolute perfect conductor of electricity and heat.  The strength of graphene is so mind-blowing, it was found that even 2 atomic layers of this material can be bulletproof. Yes, only two! These unique properties make graphene ideal for all kinds of electronic application and beyond. The limit to graphene is our own imagination.

Graphene Applications

Graphene is a near perfect conductor of electricity. This allows electricity to flow without hindrance. This dramatically slows the heating process lithium batteries face while allowing charging speeds up to 5 times as fast. This also increases the battery life by 5 times the charging cycles.

Graphene also evenly disperses heat acting as a cooling system. Graphene already generates less heat due to extremely low resistivity. But graphene also conducts heat evenly across battery to help cool the battery.

Why are current lithium batteries so limited?

To keep it plain and simple: HEAT. When a device is charging, heat is generated based on resistivity of conductor. Generated heat increases the resistivity of lithium. Since the lithium is hotter, the resistivity is higher, which means the device charges even more heat. All of this heat creates a positive feedback loop that can spiral out of control and cause the battery to literally burst into flames.

As you can imagine, this isn’t ideal, so to prevent from catching on fire, batteries will regulate the speed of charging, but this results in battery charging speeds to slowly crawl.

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