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Graphene is a two-dimensional carbon allotrope with the carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice. It was first isolated in 2004 and is an extremely thin material along with being flexible and transparent. It is one of the strongest materials at present and the carbon arrangement provides it with attractive and unusual characteristics. Due to these reasons, it is one of the most promising nanomaterials and is being considered in a wide range of applications ranging from optics to electronics.
Due to the strong bonds and unbroken pattern between the carbon atoms, graphene is considered the strongest material at present. As charge carriers in graphene have small effective mass; they have attractive electrical and thermal properties with respect to electronic devices. The electrical properties include optical transparency, high current-carrying capability and high carrier mobility or velocity. The thermal properties include high thermal conductivity and high mechanical strength. Graphene conducts electricity with electrons moving significantly faster than silicon with fewer interruptions. It is also an excellent heat conductor and is conductive independent of the temperature present. The two-dimensional structure of graphene improves the electrostatics required for transistors. By weight, graphene is stronger than steel.
Mechanical exfoliation from bulk graphite and graphitization of epitaxially grown SiC crystals are the two main fabrication techniques used for graphene. The first method involves the peeling of the layered graphite and is simple in nature and capable of producing single layers of graphene. The second method involves exposure of SiC crystals to temperatures above 2,350° F (1,300° C) resulting in vaporization of less tightly held silicon atoms from the surface.
Graphene is being considered in a variety of applications and in different fields. Graphene is used for boosting the capacity and charge rate of batteries. It can also help in indirectly increasing the longevity of batteries. Graphene is being adapted to many current and planned applications for carbon nanotubes. As less light energy is needed for electrons to move between the layers, graphene is being researched for use in solar cells. It is also being considered for use in technology such as transistors and transparent screens.