News / Science & Technology

Graphene Called Amazing, Versatile Material of the Future

George Putic
In 2004, two scientists at the University of Manchester in England isolated a carbon-based material called graphene, with some unusual properties. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov hailed it as 'the wonder material of the 21st century,' and they were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. Scientists now say that someday, graphene may change the way we live. 

Graphene is the first man-made two-dimensional material. It is actually only a one-atom-thick layer of pure carbon. It is closely related to nanotubes, and microscopic graphite balls called fullerenes.

Graphene is basically graphite, like the core of pencils, but its neatly-arranged and tightly-woven atoms make it 200 times stronger than a steel sheet of the same thickness.

Myriad positive qualities

The leader of the graphene research team at Manchester University, Aravind Vijayaraghavan, said incredible strength is not its only quality.

"It's bendable, stretchable, transparent, super light. The best conductor of heat, the best conductor of electricity. It's not just one thing that makes it amazing, it's in fact all these things rolled into one," said Vijayaraghavan.

The potential of graphene is practically unlimited. It can be used in cancer therapy, in flexible touchscreens, or for batteries that will charge in seconds. Top tennis players Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray use graphene-based racquets.

Development challenges

But being so thin, graphene also is extremely hard to handle, like the transparent cellulose used for wrapping food.

"It gets everywhere, it crinkles up, it sticks to everything," said Vijayaraghavan.

Because of that, large-scale production is still decades away, said George Mason University Engineering professor Dimitris Ioannou, speaking via Skype. “The real bottleneck is to find out the technique to make large area graphene layers and that’s not yet possible, I don’t think, but there is a lot of research going on,” he said.

Ioannou said someday, graphene may be very useful for smartphone displays, supercapacitors and nanoantennas for nanomachines that could talk to each other.

Britain and the European Union are building a $140-million National Graphene Institute in Manchester, while there are already close to 10,000 patents worldwide related to the new material.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: george wohanka from: E.E.U.U.
February 05, 2014 3:28 PM
You owe it to your listeners to contact Grafoid and announce to the world that graphene is being mass produced, once you have assured yourselves that this is indeed correct.

by: Andrew Hutton from: Ottawa, Canada
February 05, 2014 7:31 AM
For the record, Grafoid Inc., leads a global platform consisting of Focus Graphite Inc., Graphite Zero Pte Ltd., and the Graphene Research Center at the National University of Singapore which is, in fact, producing pristine, high energy density graphene in bulk. We are currently expanding our scalable, mass production facilities in Canada and the United States. By scalable, I mean scalable to tonnes. We are not decades away from mass production in North America as Prof. Ioannou suggests, but rather, months.

Ours is a remarkable accomplishment given the scale of interest - and funding - for graphene's development from governments, institutions and multinational corporations. Our simple, patent pending one step process transforms raw graphite ore to few layer MesoGraf™ - the first trademarked graphene in the world. That process overcomes graphene's physical inclinations to fold back on itself and results in the low-cost, reproducible and environmentally sustainable mass production of high surface area MesoGraf™.

As a company leading the charge towards graphene's commercialization, it is important that we educate the world on our achievements. Our academic, industrial and military application development partnerships have already led to the creation of new, game-changing industrial materials - materials we believe will propel us into a leading position in the Graphene Revolution.

Andrew Hutton, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications
Grafoid Inc. Ottawa, Canada
In Response

by: george wohanka from: usa
February 05, 2014 4:32 PM
Once you have confirmed that Hutton is correct I think you owe the world a follow up correcting the statement that production of graphene in bulk is decades away.

Canada as a sister country apparently will be able to produce graphene by the ton. If true let the world know. And if Grafoid's statements are not correct. explain why and tell the world that your original broadcast was correct.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs