- 1 March 2023
- NanoEMI Admin
- Applications for graphene, Graphene knowledge
In this article you will learn:
- Graphene – what it is?
- Types of graphene?
- What are graphene applications?
- What are graphene nanoplatelets or (nano)flakes?
- How to produce graphene?
- Properties of graphene?
- How to characterize graphene?
- What defines the quality of graphene?
- Why does it take so long to commercialize graphene?
Graphene - what it is?
Graphene is a two-dimensional material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is one of the most studied and promising materials in modern science due to its unique combination of remarkable properties.
Types of graphene
Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Based on its structure, graphene can be classified into several types, including:
- Single-layer graphene: This is the simplest form of graphene and consists of only one layer of carbon atoms.
- Multilayer graphene: This refers to stacks of multiple layers of graphene, ranging from a few layers to hundreds of layers.
- Bilayer graphene: This refers to two layers of graphene stacked on top of each other.
- Few-layer graphene: This refers to graphene that consists of a few layers, typically ranging from 2 to 10 layers.
- Few-layer graphene oxide: This refers to graphene oxide that has been exfoliated into a few layers.
- Graphene nanoribbons: This refers to narrow strips of graphene that have been cut from a graphene sheet. They can have either armchair or zigzag edges in shape and have unique electronic properties.
- Graphene quantum dots: This refers to small clusters of graphene with a size ranging from a few nanometers to several micrometers.
Each type of graphene has its own unique properties and applications, depending on the number of layers, size, and edge structure.
Graphene (pure graphene)
Pure graphene refers to a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, with no impurities or defects. In other words, it is a perfectly ordered and homogeneous material composed of a single sheet of carbon atoms.
Pure graphene is an ideal material for many applications due to its remarkable physical and electronic properties. However, it can be challenging to produce pure graphene in large quantities, and it is typically not possible to obtain large pieces of perfectly ordered and defect-free graphene in real-world applications.
In practice, most graphene samples produced for commercial or scientific purposes contain some level of defects or impurities, which can affect their properties and limit their performance. However, advances in graphene synthesis and processing techniques are ongoing, and researchers are working to find new ways to produce higher quality and more pure graphene for various applications.
Graphene nanoplatelets (or flakes)
Graphene nanoplatelets are a type of graphene that refers to small, flat, and thin flakes of graphene that have a thickness ranging from a few nanometers to several hundred nanometers. They are produced by the exfoliation of graphene oxide or graphite, resulting in small plate-like structures.
Graphene nanoplatelets have unique properties, such as high mechanical strength, electrical conductivity, and thermal conductivity, making them suitable for a variety of applications. For example, they can be used as additives to enhance the mechanical and thermal properties of polymers, as electrodes in energy storage devices, and as catalysts in chemical reactions.
Due to their small size, graphene nanoplatelets have a large surface area-to-volume ratio, which makes them ideal for applications where high surface area is required, such as in catalysts, sensors, and drug delivery systems.
Overall, graphene nanoplatelets are an exciting new form of graphene that offer many potential applications and have garnered a great deal of interest in the scientific and industrial communities.
Large area sheets
Large area sheets of graphene refer to graphene sheets that are significantly larger than typical graphene flakes or graphene nanoplatelets. These sheets are produced through a variety of methods, including chemical vapor deposition (CVD), epitaxial growth, and mechanical exfoliation.
Large area sheets of graphene have a number of advantages over smaller flakes or nanoplatelets. For example, they have high electrical conductivity and can be used as transparent electrodes in electronic devices, such as touch screens and solar cells. They also have high mechanical strength, making them useful in the development of advanced composites and coatings.
In addition, large area sheets of graphene can be used as a platform to produce other 2D materials, such as transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) and black phosphorous, by depositing other materials onto the graphene surface.
Overall, large area sheets of graphene are an important area of research and development due to their potential applications in a wide range of fields, including electronics, energy, and materials science.
Graphene Oxide (GO)
Graphene oxide (GO) is a form of graphene that is produced by oxidizing graphite using a variety of chemical methods, such as Hummers method or Brodie method. The oxidation process results in the introduction of oxygen-containing functional groups, such as hydroxyl groups and epoxy groups, into the graphene lattice.
GO has a number of unique properties that make it different from other forms of graphene. For example, GO is hydrophilic (water-soluble), which makes it easier to process and dispense compared to other forms of graphene. GO also has a large surface area, making it useful in applications that require high surface area, such as catalysts, sensors, and energy storage devices.
Despite its unique properties, GO has some limitations that make it unsuitable for some applications. For example, the introduction of oxygen-containing functional groups reduces the electrical conductivity of GO compared to pristine graphene.
Despite these limitations, GO has been extensively studied due to its potential applications in a variety of fields, including energy, electronics, and materials science. Researchers are exploring ways to reduce the amount of oxygen in GO to improve its electronic properties, and to functionalize GO with various materials to enhance its performance in specific applications.
Reduced graphene oxide (rGO)
Reduced graphene oxide (rGO) is a form of graphene oxide (GO) that has been reduced, or partially reduced, to remove some of the oxygen-containing functional groups. This reduction process can be achieved using a variety of methods, such as thermal reduction, chemical reduction, or electrochemical reduction.
The reduction of GO results in improved electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and thermal conductivity compared to GO. rGO also has a high surface area, making it useful in applications that require high surface area, such as catalysts, sensors, and energy storage devices.
In addition, rGO can be functionalized with various materials, such as metals or polymers, to enhance its performance in specific applications. For example, rGO functionalized with metal nanoparticles can be used as catalysts, while rGO functionalized with polymers can be used as electrodes in energy storage devices.
Overall, rGO is a promising material for a wide range of applications due to its unique combination of properties, including high electrical conductivity, high surface area, and improved mechanical and thermal properties compared to GO.
What are graphene applications?
Graphene has a wide range of potential applications due to its unique combination of properties, such as high electrical and thermal conductivity, mechanical strength, and high surface area. Some of the most promising applications of graphene include:
- Electronics: Graphene can be used as a transparent conductor in electronic devices, such as touch screens, displays, and solar cells. It can also be used as a replacement for silicon in some of the electronic devices, such as transistors and integrated circuits.
- Energy: Graphene can be used as a material for energy storage devices, such as batteries and supercapacitors. It can also be used as a material for fuel cells, photovoltaic cells, and thermoelectric devices.
- Composites: Graphene can be used to enhance the mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties of various materials, such as polymers and ceramics.
- Sensors: Graphene can be used as a sensing material due to its high surface area and electronic properties, which allows it to detect and respond to various stimuli, such as changes in temperature, pressure, or chemical composition.
- Catalysts: Graphene can be used as a catalyst due to its large surface area, which allows for increased reaction rates and improved efficiency in chemical reactions.
- Biomedical: Graphene can be used in biomedical applications, such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, and biosensors.
Overall, the potential applications of graphene are diverse and far-reaching, and the development of new methods for synthesizing and processing graphene is likely to lead to even more exciting and innovative applications in the future.
What are graphene nanoplatelets or (nano)flakes?
Graphene nanoplatelets (also known as nano flakes) are tiny flakes of graphene that are smaller than conventional graphene sheets. These flakes are typically up to several nanometers thick and can be as small as a few tens of nanometers in diameter.
Graphene nanoplatelets are produced through a variety of methods, including mechanical exfoliation, chemical exfoliation, and liquid phase exfoliation. Unlike conventional graphene sheets, which can be difficult to process and incorporate into other materials, graphene nanoplatelets can be dispersed in various solvents and incorporated into a wide range of materials, such as polymers, ceramics, and metals.
The small size and large surface area of graphene nanoplatelets make them useful in a variety of applications, such as energy storage devices, composites, and coatings. For example, graphene nanoplatelets can be used to improve the electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and thermal conductivity of various materials.
In addition, graphene nanoplatelets have a high surface area, which makes them useful in applications that require high surface area, such as catalysts and sensors.
Overall, graphene nanoplatelets are an important area of research and development due to their unique combination of properties and potential applications in a wide range of fields.
How to produce graphene?
In general, the quality and properties of the graphene produced using any methods can vary widely depending on the specific conditions used, and researchers are constantly working to develop new and improved methods for producing graphene. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of method depends on the desired quality and application of the graphene.
There are several methods for producing graphene, including:
Exfoliation from graphite
The exfoliation of graphene from graphite is a method of producing graphene by mechanically or chemically separating single layers of graphene from bulk graphite.
Mechanical exfoliation is a method that involves using scotch tape or other adhesive materials to peel single layers of graphene from bulk graphite. This method is useful for producing high-quality graphene for research purposes, but it can be time-consuming and difficult to scale up.
Exfoliation devices: These devices can be used to produce graphene through the mechanical exfoliation method, and they can include tools such as scotch tape or other materials used to peel layers of graphene off of a bulk graphite source.
Chemical exfoliation involves using chemicals, such as strong acids or oxidants, to break down bulk graphite into graphene flakes. This method can be easier to scale up than mechanical exfoliation, but it can result in lower quality graphene.
In both mechanical and chemical exfoliation, the resulting graphene flakes are typically small and irregular in shape, making them difficult to use in certain applications.
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD):
The Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method is a method for producing graphene by synthesizing it on a metal substrate, such as copper or nickel, and then transferring it to another substrate for use.
In this method, a metal substrate is exposed to a mixture of carbon-containing gases, such as methane or acetylene, at high temperatures. The graphene forms on the metal substrate as a result of a chemical reaction between the carbon-containing gases and the metal substrate. The graphene can then be transferred to another substrate, such as silicon wafer or glass, for use in various applications.
The CVD method is useful for producing large-area, high-quality graphene sheets with good electronic and mechanical properties. This method can be scaled up more easily than other methods, such as mechanical exfoliation, and it can result in graphene sheets with fewer defects and impurities.
However, the CVD method can also be more expensive than other methods, and the graphene produced by this method may have different properties compared to graphene produced by other methods, such as mechanical exfoliation.
Overall, the CVD method is an important and widely used method for producing graphene, and it has the potential to play a significant role in the development of new graphene-based technologies in the future.
Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) reactors: CVD is a widely used method for producing graphene, and CVD reactors are designed specifically to support this process. CVD reactors typically consist of a chamber where the graphene is grown on a substrate, a heating system to control the temperature of the substrate, and a gas delivery system to control the atmosphere and flow of gases used in the process.
The epitaxial growth method is a method for producing graphene by growing it on a substrate, such as silicon carbide (SiC), with a similar crystal structure. This method is called epitaxial growth because the graphene grows in a way that is somehow consistent with the underlying crystal structure of the substrate.
In this method, a substrate is first prepared and cleaned to create a suitable surface for graphene growth. Then, the substrate is subjected to high temperatures and a controlled atmosphere of carbon-containing gases, such as methane or acetylene, to initiate the growth of graphene. The graphene grows on the substrate in a way that is consistent with the crystal structure of the substrate, resulting in a high-quality, single-layer graphene film.
The epitaxial growth method is useful for producing high-quality graphene films with good electronic properties, and it has the potential to play a significant role in the development of new graphene-based technologies in the future. However, it can be a more complex and challenging process compared to other methods, such as CVD, and it may not be suitable for all applications.
Overall, the epitaxial growth method is an important and promising method for producing graphene, and it has the potential to play a significant role in the development of new graphene-based technologies in the future.
It is worth noting that in addition to devices used for the production of grapheneused to produce graphene, there are several types of characterization equipment that are used to analyze and measure the properties of graphene samples. These can include spectroscopy devices, such as Raman spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), among others.
Properties of graphene
Graphene is an extremely thin, single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It has a number of unique properties that make it an attractive material for a wide range of applications, including:
- High electrical conductivity: Graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity, with a conductivity that is approximately 100 times greater than that of copper.
- High thermal conductivity: Graphene is also an excellent conductor of heat, with a thermal conductivity that is approximately few times higher than that of copper.
- Mechanical strength: Graphene is one of the strongest materials known, with a tensile strength that is several times higher than that of steel.
- Barrier properties: Graphene is an effective barrier to the passage of small molecules and gases, making it useful for applications such as water filtration and packaging.
- Optical properties: Graphene has unique optical properties, including high transparency and high absorption of light, making it useful for applications such as transparent conductive coatings and photodetectors.
- Flexibility: Graphene is an extremely flexible material, making it useful for applications such as flexible electronic devices and energy storage devices.
- Chemical stability: Graphene is highly stable, with a large resistance to chemical reactions, making it useful for applications in harsh chemical environments.
These properties make graphene a highly versatile material with potential applications in a wide range of fields, including electronics, energy, materials science, biomedicine, and mor
How to characterize graphene?
There are several techniques that can be used to characterize graphene, including:
- Raman Spectroscopy: This is a non-destructive technique that measures the inelastic scattering of light from a material, and it can be used to identify the number of layers in a graphene sample and to determine the quality and structure of the graphene.
- Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM): This is a high-resolution imaging technique that uses a small probe to scan the surface of a sample and produce a topographic image. AFM can be used to measure the thickness of a graphene sample and to determine its crystal structure and quality.
- Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM): This is a high-resolution imaging technique that uses a beam of electrons to image a sample. TEM can be used to determine the number of layers in a graphene sample and to study its crystal structure and quality.
- X-Ray Diffraction (XRD): This is a non-destructive technique that uses X-rays to determine the crystal structure of a material. XRD can be also used to determine the number of layers and to identify any impurities in the sample.
- Electrical Transport Measurements: These measurements can be used to determine the electrical conductivity and resistivity of a graphene sample, and they can be used to study the electronic properties of graphene, such as its carrier mobility and density.
- Optical Spectroscopy: This is a set of techniques that use light to study the optical properties of a material. Optical spectroscopy can be used to determine the optical absorption and transmission of graphene, and to study its optical properties, such as its refractive index and optical conductivity.
These are some of the most commonly used techniques for characterizing graphene, and they can provide important information about the quality and properties of a graphene sample that can be used to optimize its use in various applications.
What defines the quality of graphene?
The quality of graphene can be defined by several factors, including:
- Number of Layers: The quality of graphene is highly dependent on the number of layers in the sample. Single-layer graphene has unique electronic, optical, and mechanical properties that are different from those of multi-layer graphene.
- Crystallinity: The crystallinity of graphene refers to the degree of order and regularity in the arrangement of carbon atoms in the lattice. Higher crystallinity results in better electronic and mechanical properties, making it a key factor in determining the quality of graphene.
- Defect Density: Defects in the graphene lattice, such as vacancies, dislocations, and grain boundaries, can negatively impact its electronic and mechanical properties. The defect density of graphene is an important factor in determining its quality.
- Sheet Resistance: The sheet resistance of graphene is a measure of its electrical resistance, and it is an important factor in determining the quality of graphene for electronic applications. Lower sheet resistance results in better electrical conductivity and a higher quality graphene sample.
- Optical Properties: The optical properties of graphene, such as its absorption and transmission, can be used to determine its quality and suitability for optical applications.
- Chemical Stability: The chemical stability of graphene, or its resistance to chemical reactions and environmental degradation, is an important factor in determining its quality for applications in harsh chemical environments.
By carefully controlling and optimizing these factors, it is possible to produce high-quality graphene with excellent electronic, optical, and mechanical properties for a wide range of applications.
Why does it take so long to commercialize graphene?
Graphene has been the subject of intense research for over a decade and has been hailed as a “miracle material” due to its remarkable properties. However, despite its potential, it has taken longer than expected to commercialize graphene for several reasons:
- Production Challenges: Producing high-quality graphene on a large scale is still a challenge, and the methods used to produce graphene are often expensive and difficult to scale up for commercial use.
- Cost: Graphene is still relatively expensive to produce, which makes it difficult to compete with more established materials for many applications.
- Lack of Standardization: There is a lack of standardization in the production of graphene, which makes it difficult for manufacturers to compare the quality and properties of different samples.
- Regulatory Challenges: The regulatory landscape for graphene is still developing, and there are concerns about the potential health and environmental risks associated with graphene.
- Integration with Existing Technologies: Integrating graphene into existing technologies and manufacturing processes can be challenging, and it often requires significant investment and time to develop new production methods.
- Lack of Application-Specific Properties: Graphene has a wide range of potential applications, but it is still not clear which applications will be the most profitable or have the greatest impact. This lack of clarity makes it difficult for companies to invest in graphene research and development.
These challenges have slowed the commercialization of graphene, but research is ongoing, and significant progress is being made in overcoming these challenges. As the production processes become more efficient and cost-effective, and as the regulatory landscape becomes clearer, it is likely that graphene will become more widely used in a range of commercial applications.
Get regular updates on graphene science news, graphene products, composites
and 2D materials
Hey there! I just had to say, this blog post about graphene is seriously awesome! It’s super informative and really well-written. I’ve always been fascinated by this mind-blowing material, and this post gave me a clear and easy-to-understand explanation of what it is and what makes it so unique. Even if you’re new to the topic, the explanations are totally accessible. I’m stoked to dive deeper into this cutting-edge material and learn more about how it’s shaping the future of technology, medicine, and beyond. Keep up the fantastic work!