Graphene. Will it change the world?

With such incredible properties; scientists, inventors and designers around the world are getting really excited about how graphene may revolutionise the future!

Miracle Material

  • 200
    Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel! It is the strongest material ever discovered because of how tightly the carbon atoms are bonded.
  • 1 Million
    Graphene is 1 million times thinner than a human hair. It is the thinnest material on earth, so thin that it is actually two dimensional! However despite being so thin, you can still see graphene with the naked eye!
  • Conductive
    Graphene is the world's most conductive material. The carbon atoms in graphine delocalise electrons, which allows them to move freely in the material. Graphene is an incredible conductor of heat and electricity.

What's the story?

If you have ever seen a pencil, then you have probably seen graphene! Graphite (the middle pointy bit of a pencil) is made up of millions of thin layers of graphene. Scientists have known about the potential of graphene for a while now, but it wasn't until 2004, that two professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov were able to effectively extract graphene from graphite. This remarkable step in science earned them the Nobel Prize for Physics!

Endless Possibilities With such astounding properties, graphene is predicted to be the material that changes the world. Scientists are hoping to develop stronger more powerful batteries that are so small they could be sewn into your clothes, or even your skin! Imagine fully charging your phone in seconds, or an electric car in just minutes! Graphene has a unique molecular composition which could make it one of the smallest and most useful filters! Researchers are hoping to develop a way of using graphene to filter sea water into drinking water. This could potentially provide drinking water to millions around the wold and even save lives.

Still Far to Go Despite there being so many exciting possible uses for graphene, it's currently too expensive to precisely extract it in large quantities. This means its probably still going to be a while for graphene to be used in daily life.

All molecular graphics by James Hedberg (cc)

What can I do?

DISCUSS: How do you think scientists come up with ideas on how to use graphene?

RESEARCH: Find 3 possible uses for graphene that excite you! What's their impact on the world?

DO: Try invent a use for this strong, light and conductive material.

Research into graphene has come on leaps and bounds since it was first extracted in 2004, but for how long have scientists been interested in this super material?

Graphite (millions of layers of graphene found in pencils) has been studied as early as 1947. The first theories around graphene were developed over 30 years ago in 1984.

A project by Marta Giralt

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