Graphene has been described as a ‘wonder material’ and it’s easy to see why. Graphene has caught the attention of scientists and researchers throughout the world. It’s set to change the future of various industries, including 3D printing, energy storage, wearable tech and many more.
The Discovery of Graphene
There have been many attempts to extract Graphene from graphite for years, with many experiments failing to do so.
Fortunately, scientists Professor Sir Andre Geim and Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov of the University of Manchester isolated a single atomic layer of carbon for the first time in 2004. They both received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 in recognition of their discovery, and now various laboratories are using graphene in their research.
Flexible, Light & Conductive
Graphene has extraordinary physical properties:
- It’s 200 times stronger than steel, but flexible
- It’s the thinnest material in the world, 1 million times thinner than a strand of hair, but transparent
- It can act as a barrier, not even allowing helium through it
These properties allow the material to be used for many different purposes and can potentially replace existing materials. It can be used as a single layer or as a stack of layers. It can also be mixed with other materials and liquids.
The Economic Impact
By 2020, it is predicted that the global market for items made from or using Graphene will be over £500 million. This is only set to grow further as the benefits of graphene are discovered and researchers utilise the material to its full potential.
What it is Used for Today
Graphene is already being used in a few different products, such as in wearable tech, tennis rackets and even lightbulbs. Additionally, it’s advancing to cars, aircrafts, energy storage and buildings. It really does have the potential to change our world, boosting efficiency across the world and revolutionising many existing processes.
The Potential of Graphene
From medicine to industry to electronics, it even has the potential to purify water in developing countries.
The UK is a leading figure in the development of the material and will continue to benefit from this amazing material.
Graphene and 3D Printing
Graphene-enhanced materials massively improve existing materials used in 3D printing, like plastics. The graphene is added to the polymers, which makes the materials mechanically stronger and improves their thermal and electoral conductivity. By mixing heat and pressure, researchers can condense small bits of graphene to produce a strong and sturdy structure, ideal for 3D printing.
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