Miracle Material.

Graphene is without doubt peculiarly splendid and is quickly establishing itself as the champion of materials; grabbing for itself various records in the world of physical properties.  The accolades seem to accumulate every day, with research into the substance being one of the hottest areas in materials science. But what are the most surprising of its properties. Well…

  1. Strength – Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and so robust that it would, according to Professor James Hone, take an elephant sitting on a the end of a pencil to break through a sheet of graphene no thicker than a piece of clingfilm. The substance is so strong that it is effectively possible to pick up a whole sheet of the material; which means one can grasp at and hold without breaking a sheet of carbon atoms.
  2. No Band Gap – Graphene has no band gap, the difference between a bound and unbound electron. Without a band gap an electron is able to absorb electrons at all frequencies, making the substance ideal for highly efficient photovoltaic solar cells.
  3. Ballistic Conduction – Similar to superconductivity at room temperatures, ballistic conduction occurs when electrons pass through a material unimpeded. The honeycomb lattice of graphene has the largest “mean free path” of any known material.
  4. The highest current density (a million times that of copper).
  5. The highest intrinsic motility (100 times that of silicon).
  6. Conduction in the limit of no electrons (it can carry electricity more efficiently, faster and with more precision than any other material).
  7. Transparency – Graphene absords just 2-3 percent of the light that falls on it, making it perfect for the production of touchscreens. It is however possible to see the material with the naked eye, meaning that when placed on a sheet of white paper it is possible to see a graphene sheet of carbon atoms.
  8. Stretch and stiffness – Graphene has an elasticity that means it can be stretched by 20 percent of its length, yet is also stiffer than diamond.
  9. Thermal conductivity – another record holder. Graphene is the substance with the highest level of thermal conductivity, again beating that of diamond.
  10. Impermeability – Graphene is the most impermeable material on the planet. It is so impermeable that even single atoms of helium cannot pass through it; a quality that makes it ideal for the production of gas detectors.

The role call of accolades and attributes provide a fantastic confirmation of the material’s versatility. Exploring and discovering the qualities of the material make it one of the most anticipated and expectation riddled substances ever. An investment of time and effort in graphene in an investment in its innumerable possibilities.

Graphene spin switches and magnetism

Investing in graphene just got another thumbs up. Researchers at Fudan University in China have just announced that a theoretical study of graphene has revealed the material’s suitability for the manufacture of spin switches. Spin switches rely on magnetic spin properties rather than electric charge to produce the kind of “valves” used in such advanced applications as hard disk drive read heads. Although it is not necessary to understand the science in order to make a well informed financial decision the news adds to the increasing number of research studies that suggest investing in graphene would be a prescient financial decision.

The researchers found that graphene nanoribbons maximise the unique edge properties of graphene to produce spin polarization. Their calculations show how the nanoribbons of two graphene islands form parallel and anti-parallel  polarizations with respect to each other depending on the amount of energy passed across them. The spin anti-aligned islands do not pass electrons across them, whilst the spin aligned islands do; such a clear mechanism of switching makes the graphene ideal for work in the emerging field of spintronics.

In addition, news from Japan suggests that researchers have found a way to produce a magnetism in graphene. The production of hydrogen terminated nanopores on a graphene sheet affects the spin value of the zigzag edges of the hioneycomb structure. The phenomenon occurs at room temperature and could one day be used to produce strong and light magnets and spintronic devices.

Sources: Tokyo institute of Tehnology.