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Goodbye Carbon, Hello Graphene!!

We've gotten so used to hearing the word 'carbon nanotubes' over the last so many years. From geeky looking researchers boasting about its capabilities to scrawny schoolkids trying to show off their 'smart quotient'.But all that seems set to change!! So goodbye Carbon Nanotubes and hello Graphene-polymers!!

Read this in Nature by the way!!Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new graphene-polymer hybrid that they claim is a much cheaper alternative to carbon nanotubes. This is achieved by spreading a small amount of graphene, a single flat sheet of carbon atoms, throughout polymers. The great thing is that this hybrid is inexpensive when compared to carbon nanotubes as the main ingredient, graphite, is cheap and easily available whereas carbon nanotubes are very expensive.

Graphene will also raise fewer toxicity concerns they claim. The problem with carbon nanotubes is that there is a possibility that they can mimic asbestos fibers which are thin enough and can cause cancer. Graphene is a nanometer in only one direction, its width. In the other two dimensions, namely height and length, they are relatively large and cannot be absorbed by the blood. Thus, Graphene can be used in a greater range of applications where carbon nanotubes cannot follow owing to toxicity concerns.

Actually, and interestingly enough, graphene, when created, is natural almost 100% perfect - there's a very low chance for any defects in the structure - that's what makes it so great. The trouble with it, and the reason why carbon nano-tubes were "first to the scene" as it were, is that it's somewhat tricky to create - we're talking a 1-atom thick sheet of carbon. But now that scientist are finding ways to produce it easier and cheaper it makes sense that it would replace nano-tubes.


However here's what Wikipedia says: "Graphene is presently one of the most expensive materials on Earth, with a sample that can be placed at the cross section of a human hair costing more than $1,000 (as of April 2008)."

Hmm.... Cheap nano-sheets costing just $1,000 per deci-deci-gram?? Well, lets hope this is mistake!! Or in the near future we'll have to spend a fortune to buy any gadget.

1 comments :

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