Graphene is a form of carbon that is incredibly flexible, strong and a powerful conductor of both heat and electricity.

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Graphene: the material of the future
By Jerry Brownstein
Graphene is a form of carbon that is only one single atom thick. It is the thinnest material known to exist, yet it is incredibly flexible, strong and a powerful conductor of both heat and electricity. Studies at the American Chemical Society discovered that graphene is 200 times stronger than steel, and so thin that one gram of it can cover an entire football field. The possibilities for its use are endless, including supercharged quantum computers, flexible devices and even computers that can interface with the cells in your body.

Graphene is one of the few materials in the world that is transparent conductive and flexible – all at the same time. It has been called the ‘wonder material’ with the potential to radically change the way we live. Physicists and researchers say that we will soon be able to make electronics that are thinner, faster and cheaper than anything based on silicon, with the option of making them clear and flexible. One example would be a mobile phone that is as thin as a piece of paper and foldable enough to slip into your pocket.

Long-lasting batteries that can be recharged quickly are another exciting possibility. Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago built a battery based on graphene which could be used in a phone or other device that "stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes.” On a larger scale, the use of powerful lightweight graphene batteries in electric vehicles would make them far more efficient than anything we have now. In addition, carmakers are also exploring how to build electronic cars with bodies made of graphene that are not only protective, but act as solar panels to charge the car's battery. Aircraft makers also hope to build efficient lightweight planes using graphene. At the moment graphene is very expensive to produce, but its raw materials are easy to acquire and as demand for it rises the costs of production are likely to fall rapidly.


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