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Home > News > We'll need more than Scotch tape to capitalize on Nobel discovery

November 1st, 2010

We'll need more than Scotch tape to capitalize on Nobel discovery

Abstract:
Now that graphene is everyone's favorite nanomaterial, it raises some questions: What is graphene good for, and when is it going to change our lives? A bunch of research centers are working feverishly on the answers. The first and best-known potential use for graphene is in computer chips. Graphene's electrons move 100 to 1,000 times faster than those of silicon, meaning less power will be required for the same computing capacity. Such blazing speed might also help produce ever-tinier computing devices with more power than your clunky laptop.

Nongjian Tao, an Arizona State University professor who studies the basic properties of graphene, also foresees graphene-based chemical sensors to detect explosives in luggage and volatile organic compounds in the air. "Graphene allows you to convert a chemical reaction into an electronic signal," he says.

Graphene also flaunts incredible strength and stiffness. In 2008, scientists at Columbia University proved it to be the world's strongest material, pound for pound. To put it into perspective, if you had a sheet of graphene as thick as a piece of cellophane, it would support the weight of a car. If paper were as stiff as graphene, you could hold a 100-yard-long sheet of it at one end without its breaking or bending.

This incredible strength raises all sorts of possibilities. If you took small flakes of graphene and mixed them into other materials, you could use those composites to build far stronger, lighter products - anything from airplanes to tennis racquets.

Graphene might also revolutionize electrical energy storage by vastly improving ultra-capacitors. These are the specialized batteries that can supply huge bursts of energy over a short period.



Source:
washingtonpost.com

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