Graphene: The Next Big (But Thin) Thing

Graphene: everybody’s talking about it. When
hearing some of its basic properties, you might have wondered if people were confusing
it with some kind of substance only found in comic books. It’s one atom thick, conducts
electricity better than silver, conducts heat better than diamond, and it’s stronger than
steel. It would take the focused force of an elephant balancing on a pencil point to
pierce through a piece of graphene as thick as plastic wrap. And yet, graphITE is made of the same stuff.
And yeah, that crumbly stuff used to make your pencil is a lot less impressive. So what’s
up? Graphene is made of carbon, and carbon has only two naturally occurring crystalline
structures; graphite, which is just stacks and stacks of graphene piled on top of each
other, and diamond, which is a network of carbon atoms arranged into tetrahedrons one
after the other. For being composed of entirely the same element, those two things don’t seem
to have a lot in common. Diamond is clear, graphite is black. Diamond is a nearly-perfect
electrical insulator, while graphite is both a great conductor of heat and electricity. The differences between these substances all
come down to the arrangement of their atoms. Carbon has four outer electrons. In diamond,
all four of those electrons bond to carbon atoms around it, forming those tetrahedrons.
This makes for an extremely rigid and strong crystal. It’s an insulator, because there
are no electrons left over to carry a current, and it’s clear because light can’t easily
excite electrons that are tied up in such stable bonds, which is where they’d otherwise
be absorbed. Graphite, on the other hand, is a crystalline form of carbon in which each
atom is only bonded to three other carbon atoms. Those atoms form a two-dimensional
sheet of hexagons in which each atom has one unpaired electron left over. And those electrons
will go flying across the matrix of atoms if you apply an electric current, allowing
it to readily conduct electricity. They also gobble up any photons coming their way, which
is why graphite is black. But while graphite is a great conductor, its
natural form consists of layers of those sheets. So if a current is applied to it, those free
electrons have lots of different directions they can go in, taking tangents up and down
and left and right and so on. But if you strip away just a single layer, forming graphene,
then you have what amounts to an electron super highway, a flat matrix of carbon atoms
for that current to fly across. And those sheets of carbon are pretty easy to separate
because they’re not molecularly bonded to each other. That’s why graphite is so soft.
Instead, they’re held together by Van Der Waal’s bonds, kind of a weak, electrostatic
bond that’s the same force that makes sticky tape sticky. And in fact, graphene was only
discovered in 2004 when two physicists at the University of Manchester, Andre Geim and
Konstantin Novoselov, decided to use sticky tape to peel off thinner and thinner layers
from a slab of graphite. Eventually, they got a layer just one atom thick. So that’s what it is, but what is it good
for? Because of its terrific conductive properties, scientists are excited by the possibility
of using graphene as the replacement for silicon in microchips. Not only can electrons move
faster across graphene, they’re also subjected to less noise. That means the electron can
move from one side of the sheet to the other in a straight line without detouring around
a whole lot of atomic potholes. Scientists think that graphene transistors could operate
at frequencies of up to a thousand gigahertz. That’s ten times the maximum of silicon. Another proposed use of graphene is in touch
screens. The topmost layer of a touchscreen has to be an excellent conductor of electricity,
so the device can sense your fingertip. The material we use now is indium tin oxide, but
it’s both rare and brittle. Even ground into powder, graphene retains many of it’s extraordinary
properties, so it could replace graphite or other forms of carbon in anything from car
tires to double-A batteries to make them stronger or more conductive. The biggest problem with graphene though is
how hard it is to make. I mean, peeing off a tiny sheet at a time with sticky tape isn’t
really scaleable. We can grow graphene sheets by hitting up a sheet of hydrocarbons like
methane until the hydrogen separates, leaving only the carbon behind, but the graphene we
get from this is mostly low quality. Basically, it’s hard to create a one atom
thick sheet of anything. And it’s also really hard to get a completely pure sample of anything,
and here we’re trying to do both. But then again, the silicon industry faced the same
purity problem fifty years ago, and we eventually solved that problem with time and some money.
So in some more time, and some more money, I’m sure we’ll do the same thing for graphene. Thanks for watching this SciShow dose. If
you’d like to help us keep exploring the frontiers of awesomeness, go to
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100 thoughts on “Graphene: The Next Big (But Thin) Thing”

  1. First of all, the graphene can be mass produce. Secondly,  we can use graphene as oil-water separator for oil industry, which can lower their cost about TWO dollar per barrel. Moreover, we can use graphene as air filter which is better than 3M.  It is made in CHINA. How do I know? Because we made them.

  2. Graphene was discovered during the second world war and was first used to replace aluminum strips that were called Chaff.

  3. how much global resources to convert graphite to graphene and then graphene to applicable uses in all steps? are the processes safe for the environment and people? is graphene safe for ppl to be around all day everyday in low quality but in many low low low low low quantities adding up of many objects screen here, there, all over in a room full of say 200 people?

  4. How I imagine graphene was first made:
    "Hey let's see how thin we can get this graphite lol"
    "Lol ok"
    *makes 1 atom thick layer*
    "holy fuCK IT'S ONe laYEr THIcK"

  5. I don't get it, how does it retain its properties when you grind it up? I would have thought that if you grind up a layer of carbon atoms one atom thick it would break the bonds between carbons and essentially form graphite? Or the bits of layers would bond through van der waals forces to form graphite? Also does anyone know how graphene composites are made?

  6. How to make a lot of graphene:
    Get a big piece of tape(like huge)
    Then get a crane to lift the tape on graphite.
    Next lift off.
    Finally somehow get it off the tape.

  7. Electrons DO NOT fly around in any material. They freely float but their drift velocity is slow! An E field translates energy across the sea of electrons at a fast rate but the e stay in place. Kinda like a Newton's cradle.

  8. if you split an atom in half it creates an explosion, graphene is 1 atom thick, if you slice graphene in half what happens?

  9. an elephant standing on a pencil point to pierce a piece of graphene as thick as plastic wrap? if graphene is one atom thick piece of graphite how many atoms thick would graphene as thick as plastic wrap be? If you stacked graphene then it would be graphite and wouldn't be any stronger than the pencil lead the elephant is standing on. So pull that one atom thick graphene of the tape stretch it then walk on it . then I'll be impressed.

  10. Dude, imagine if we put like the carbon nanotubes in like graphene sheet and make like crapzillion interconnected layers of it and stick it into like biocomputing motherbord gaenetically ingeneered for optimum performance, add holographic memory and connect it all together with supercondcuting otical fiber.

    That would be just AWESOME !!!

  11. Physicists patent detonation technique to mass-produce graphene

  12. I have 100M ton Graphite Deposit, that I want to create into a mine and for making Graphene products. Invest in this $12B deposit and let help save the World 🙂

  13. Ok ok, why haven't we sent a big panel of this near the sun, connected to a rope of more graphene for lots of solar energy?

  14. If you want to support graphene. Look up Saint Jean Carbon their stock went up over 600% in the past 52 weeks.

  15. if this was really that good we would already use it. what we use now is much more cost efficient and we know it will work. other than this which is unpredicable

  16. I really enjoy this show. But the way it's presented is fucking frenetic. I'm always scrolling backwards so I understand what he means.

  17. coat magnets with graphene put them in the ocean and they will make electricity 24-7 from moving saltwater with no pollution

  18. Time to make some flying vehicles!

    Just imagine, the entire chassis would provide structural stability, POWER, storage of power, and incredibly light weight!

  19. I am from the future. I shall provide you with the solution.
    Step 1: Heat the graphite into a molten state.
    Step 2: errr I wasn't paying attention in class so i cant remember the rest. But good luck!

  20. well I have noticed a big advancement in computer technology with memory and processing speeds but I also have noticed a slow development in graphene and broad scale of applications and found a similar material called Boron Nitrite nano tubes like carbon nano tubes they show the same hexagonal shapes as carbon dose so whats the difference is my question to ask?

  21. Hank I love you. Seriously you and your brother do great work. But I can't show this to my non native speaking English class. Most of them are familiar with English enough to hold a decent conversation. But you're talking too fast and unclearly here to be understood by less skilled speakers.

  22. I remember a metal works opposite than graphine. Whenever you take it near any running engines they will stop and it includes watch and phones too

  23. If you can make it with tape, could you just have machines do it, with like a ton of graphite and very large sheets of tape?

  24. Ok… So 3 years later (from this video) , we are still not seeing graphene in a wide variety of products (batteries, conductors, and other materials). Why is this? Is it expensive to produce? Is it too good to be true? Standard adoption delay? I'd love to see a follow up video on this.

  25. I got an idea for computer storage

    Graphene punch cards. Let me say how it would work.

    A punch card is a piece of paper with holes in it. A graphene punch card would be 1 atom think. To store the data on this, individual atoms would be taken out of the graphene. Imagine how much storage a pint-size punch card system would hold. To delete the data, the carbon atoms would fill in the graphene punch card holes. Pretty cool huh?

  26. So use robots to peel off percise layers of graphene until you get to one atom sized layer! Bam. Solved.

  27. Why is the world struggling to make pure graphene sheets, When it should be struggling to be making Pure graphite crystals…?

  28. GRATOMIC INC. has a superior supply of graphite in Namibia. Partnered with Perpetuus Advanced Materials who have over 500 customers for their graphene. Together, they will commercialize graphene enhanced racing tires later this year. Road tested with 5/6 major tire manufacturers for 15 months and were impressed with the results. GRATOMIC.CA

  29. Please find the detailed information on graphene here ->

  30. 2 more days until the 4-year-anniversary of this video!
    Production is going strong, but I haven't seen any graphene products to buy yet :C

  31. Have you done a video on Vanta black yet which is the most capable Light devouring surface used inside sattelites and telescopes

  32. So glad that here, 4 years later, graphene is everywhere and is the true savior of modern times, found in everything and making our lives better in every conceivable way. Combined with fusion energy, it is truly the world of tomorrow, today!

  33. Why does it have to be thin? Why couldn't you just stack up as many layers of it as you wanted? Make some graphene armor that was 10mm thick.

  34. FGR ASX is an Australian company leading the world in clean graphene production -On 30th May 2019, the company announced that it had received Correspondence from Department of Health, NICNAS for the PureGRAPH™ graphene products. Post this, First Graphite became the exclusive company worldwide, securing the nod to sell up to ten tonnes of graphene powders per year to the UK and Europe along with selling off the company’s bulk of graphene powders in Australian region.

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