Graphene is a one-atom thick layer of graphite. It is the thinnest, yet strongest material known to man. It’s also best thermal conductor among all other materials, including copper.
The theoretical study of graphene started in 1947. Physicist Philip R. Wallace took the first step to understand the electronic structure of graphite.
Chemists Hanns-Peter Boehm, Eberhard and Ralph Setton introduced the term graphene in 1986.
For a long time, scientists speculated that two-dimensional graphene existed, but they didn’t know how to extract it from graphite.
Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov were the first scientists to isolate graphene from graphite at the University of Manchester in 2004.
Dr. Geim and Dr. Novoselov used Scotch tape to remove some flakes from a lump of graphite and then applied the layers to a substrate material.
When they removed the tape, some graphite remained on the substrate in a single layer. By doing this repeatedly, they were able to create flakes that were just one atom thick.
The team also researched the physical properties of graphene. They demonstrated that electrons in graphene have high mobility, making them suitable to use in electronic applications.
Dr. Geim and Dr. Novoselov won the Nobel Prize in physics for their pioneering research on graphene in 2010.
The “Scotch-tape method” doesn’t require large investments or complicated techniques. The simple process makes it easy for scientists around the world to research different aspects of graphene.
Graphene is making steady progress in terms of research and commercialization. As with all markets for new materials, progress was slow at the beginning but is now picking up. More growth depends on the development of new ways to produce graphene on an industrial level.
Currently, the University of Manchester has over 250 researchers working on graphene. The National Graphene Institute has been conducting research on graphene for more than two years.
The material has the potential to be used in many industries and also open up new markets.