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Graphene- The Future

Alexander Abelson

 

One extraordinary technological innovation was recently discovered in 2004 and is named graphene. Graphene is simply a single sheet of graphite (the material used in pencils) that measures in at an atom thick. This material has some incredible properties, such as being 200 times stronger than steel while being light, elastic (it can be stretched to 20-25% of its original length), and flexible, being electrically and thermally conductive, and transparent. All these incredible properties are especially exciting because a sheet of graphene can do them all as opposed to most technologies today which have only a single function.

Some of the very many possible applications include things like implementing graphene to be used for cheap water desalination, which would solve world drought issues. It can be used to make high efficiency, cheap solar cells due to their large surface area and high conductivity, helping to combat the energy crisis. It can also be used for things like ultracapacitors that can be charged in seconds, but hold a charge longer than current batteries. The capacitors can replace batteries in things like electric cars and solve the current problem of batteries not holding a long enough charge or taking too long to charge as well as being too big/heavy. It can be used to make bionic devices in living tissue that could be connected directly to the nervous system (since it is only an atom thick), helping to give those with amputations or disabilities a better life. It can even be used to make sensors to diagnose diseases because molecules that are sensitive to particular diseases attach very well to the carbon atoms in graphene, which would help combat the global health crisis by detecting diseases early.

At this point, the only real downside to the technology is how difficult it is to produce in its pure form. Currently, the best production method is to peal graphite back layer by layer using tape until there is one layer left, which is obviously very time consuming.  However, once the production issue is solved, graphene will change the world with its infinite uses.

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