Article last updated on: Dec 09, 2019

Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern. Graphene is considered to be the world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive material - to both electricity and heat. All this properties are exciting researchers and businesses around the world - as graphene has the potential the revolutionize entire industries - in the fields of electricity, conductivity, energy generation, batteries, sensors and more.

Mechanical strength

Graphene is the world's strongest material, and so can be used to enhance the strength of other materials. Dozens of researches have demonstrated that adding even a trade amount of graphene to plastics, metals or other materials can make these materials much stronger - or lighter (as you can use less amount of material to achieve the same strength).

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Such graphene-enhanced composite materials can find uses in aerospace, building materials, mobile devices, and many other applications.

Thermal applications

Graphene is the world's most conductive material to heat. As graphene is also strong and light, it means that it is a great material to make heat-spreading solutions, such as heat sinks or films used to dissipate heat. This could be useful in both microelectronics (for example to make LED lighting more efficient and longer lasting) and also in larger applications - for example thermal foils for mobile devices. Huawei's latest smartphones, for example, adopt graphene-based thermal films.

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Energy storage

Because graphene is the world's thinnest material, it is also the material with the highest surface-area to volume ratio. This makes graphene a very promising material to be used in batteries and supercapacitors. Graphene may enable batteries and supercapacitors (and even fuel-cells) that can store more energy - and charge faster, too.

Graphene battery advantages imageThe advantages of graphene batteries

Coatings ,sensors, electronics and more

Graphene has a lot of other promising applications: anti-corrosion coatings and paints, efficient and precise sensors, faster and efficient electronics, flexible displays, efficient solar panels, faster DNA sequencing, drug delivery, and more.

Graphene is such a great and basic building block that it seems that any industry can benefit from this new material. Time will tell where graphene will indeed make an impact - or whether other new materials will be more suitable.

The latest Graphene Application news:

MIT researchers use graphene and boron nitride to convert terahertz waves to usable energy

Researchers at MIT are working to develop a graphene-based device that may be able to convert ambient terahertz waves into a direct current. The MIT team explains that any device that sends out a Wi-Fi signal also emits terahertz waves —electromagnetic waves with a frequency somewhere between microwaves and infrared light. These high-frequency radiation waves, known as “T-rays,” are also produced by almost anything that registers a temperature, including our own bodies and the inanimate objects around us.

Graphene and boron nitride to help use terahertz energy image

Terahertz waves are pervasive in our daily lives, and if harnessed, their concentrated power could potentially serve as an alternate energy source. Imagine, for instance, a cellphone add-on that passively soaks up ambient T-rays and uses their energy to charge your phone. However, to date, terahertz waves are wasted energy, as there has been no practical way to capture and convert them into any usable form. This is exactly what the MIT scientists set out to do.

Huawei continues the use of graphene cooling films in its new P40 series

Huawei has launched its Huawei P40 flagship phone family, that includes three different devices: the Huawei P40, Huawei P40 Pro and, a new addition to the line-up for 2020, the Huawei P40 Pro Plus.

Huawei launches P40 image

After many rumors about this line sporting a graphene battery - which were later disproved - it appears that Huawei's new P40 phones are using a graphene film cooling technology for heat management purposes (Huawei's SuperCool system), much like the Mate 20X and P30 line that preceded the P40.

Sussex team granted £1 million funding to develop graphene-based applications like camouflage technology, smart tires and more

A University of Sussex research team, led by Professor Alan Dalton, has received new funding of £1 million from private company Advanced Material Development, to pursue their research into graphene and other nanomaterials.

The team will conduct research into various avenues, including camouflage technology to stop soldiers from being spotted by thermal imaging cameras or night vision goggles. The team will also develop their research into anti-counterfeiting graphene inks which can be printed onto clothes and medicine containers; incorporated into smart tires which monitor for problems; used on banknotes; included on metal-free radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) tags for supermarkets to track products; and wearable technology, including monitors for babies’ heartbeats or diabetic patients’ glucose levels.

Crumpled graphene could enable fast, simple and sensitive biosensors

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that crumpling graphene makes it more than ten thousand times more sensitive to DNA by creating electrical "hot spots". This discovery could assist in addressing a known issue of graphene-based biosensors - the face that they require a lot of DNA in order to function properly.

"This sensor can detect ultra-low concentrations of molecules that are markers of disease, which is important for early diagnosis," said study leader Rashid Bashir, a professor of bioengineering and the dean of the Grainger College of Engineering at Illinois. "It's very sensitive, it's low-cost, it's easy to use, and it's using graphene in a new way."

A new graphene-carbon nanotubes hybrid catalyst could help clean energy revolution

Researchers at Aalto University, collaborating with researchers at CNRS France, have developed a graphene-carbon nanotube catalyst which gives better control over important chemical reactions for producing green technology and clean energy.

The oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are the most important electrochemical reactions that limit the efficiencies of hydrogen fuel cells (for powering vehicles and power generation), water electrolyzers (for clean hydrogen production), and high-capacity metal-air batteries. The team has developed a new catalyst that reportedly drives these reactions more efficiently than other bifunctional catalysts currently available. The researchers also found that the electrocatalytic activity of their new catalyst can be significantly altered depending on choice of the material on which the catalyst was deposited.

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