Graphene, recited as world’s strongest material, was discovered in 2004 by two scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of University of Manchester. The discovery was so important that both scientists won the noble prize for physics in 2010.
Graphene is not other-worldly material which can only be found in laboratories. Actually, Graphene is just a single-atom layer of popular element called graphite, which is the element used in pencils. If you slice graphite to just a single-atom layer, it is called graphene. The molecular structure can be seen in graphene.
Until now, it was believed that graphene could be unstable in its free-form. But, the two scientists mentioned above successfully made a single-atom sheet of graphene in 2004. After the news was reached around the world, interest and experiments were redoubled on the subject. They are experimenting on the potential uses of the element, as they are finding out more about the different characteristics of graphene.
So, how strong is this so-called strongest material is actually is? The New York Times describes it something like this:
“It is not only the thinnest material in the world, but also the strongest: a sheet of it stretched over a coffee cup could support the weight of a truck bearing down on a pencil point”.
Aside from its robust strength, graphene has some other useful properties like conducting electricity at an incredible speed and being very light weight (1-square-meter sheet weighing only 0.77 milligrams). Bearing all these beneficial properties, the potential uses of graphene are amazing. There are incredible potential uses of the material. Moreover, a substance made from graphene is called Carbon Nanotubes. Supposedly, it could be used in body-armors, concretes, sports equipment, space elevator, bridges and fire protection.
As the process of peeling of graphite (called as exfoliation) is very expensive, Graphene was one of the most expensive material on the earth in 2008 ($ 100 million/cm2). But, the after because of the severe and sudden interest in this new material, many researchers have worked on this material. Now, researchers have succeeded to bring the cost down to $ 100/cm2. And large scale production is also possible.
Graphene can bring some technological revolutions in various fields. Realizing this fact, European Commission has granted $ 1.35 billion to Nokia for further research. Right now, we can just wait and watch for this ‘wonder material’ to help us build more beautiful technologies.