Suddenly, a material started to be quoted in all media as as revolutionary as plastic and silicon. Graphene, the thinnest material in the world, promises to revolutionize the technological industry, thanks to its characteristics such as resistance, lightness, transparency, flexibility, and electrical conductivity.
Graphene is formed from a two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms, organized into hexagonal structures the height of a single atom. The material can be obtained by extracting superficial layers of graphite, a malleable mineral abundant on Earth.
Graphene’s applications are immense and can be used in new models of optical communications, transparent circuits and devices that can be bent and twisted (such as cell phones, for example), neural implants, health tracking stickers and printed sensors for any type of application of the Internet of Things.
The discovery of graphene
Graphene has been theorized since 1947 by Canadian Philip Russel Wallace, but it was only in 2004 that physicists Kostya Novoselov and Andre Geim were able to prove its autonomous existence, without being chemically linked to other elements. These two scientists were also the first to experience some of the material’s exceptional properties.
The method used to isolate graphene was extremely simple: Russians Novoselov and Geim were gluing and peeling off an adhesive tape attached to a graphite sheet, the same one used in pencils, until a single layer of carbon atoms remained. Six years later, this “collage” earned them both the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Surprisingly, that very thin layer of graphene, used by physicists in the development of a transistor, kept its structure and conductivity unchanged. From this graphene transistor, tests with the substance continued and, until 2010, at least 3,000 studies had been published proving the capabilities of the new component.