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An overview of graphene's properties

An overview of graphene's properties


Graphene is a thin, two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is the basic building-block of graphite (which is used, among others things, in pencil tips). Graphene is a remarkable substance with a massive amount of astonishing properties which earn it the title “wonder material”.

Among graphene’s remarkable properties are unique mechanical, thermal, electrical and optical behaviors. Note that most of these features relate to perfect, pristine graphene sheets. Defects in graphene (some of which stem from the production processes or from connection points of several smaller graphene flakes “stitched together,” for example) can make graphene weaker and with quite different properties. Defects, however, can actually bring about new and different properties that make graphene more suitable for certain applications!

Graphene Super Cells

Physical / Mechanical properties

Graphene is one of the world’s thinnest material—it is only one carbon atom thick (around 0.34 nm). It is also recognized as the toughest 2D material—much harder than either steel or diamond of the same dimensions. Graphene has a tensile strength (the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before failing or breaking) of over 1 Tpa. There is only one material that may be stronger than graphene—carbyne, which is a string of carbon atoms, basically a one-atom wide graphene ribbon. Carbyne is very difficult to synthesize, though.

Graphene Supercapacitor Battery

Graphene is light—it weighs just 0.77 milligrams per square meter. Since it is a single 2D sheet, it has the highest surface area of all materials. When left to themselves, graphene sheets will stack and form graphite, which is the most stable 3D form of carbon under normal conditions.

Graphene sheets are flexible, and in fact graphene is the most stretchable crystal—you can stretch it up to 20% of its initial size without breaking it. Finally, perfect graphene is also highly impermeable, and even helium atoms cannot go through it.