But let’s not forget, no matter how strong spider web is (with or without graphene), at just one strand, it is still quite fragile and you could destroy it easily.
One of the misconceptions about graphene is its strength. I get asked quite often, if one could put a layer of graphene on a piece of steel and make steel stronger!
That is the wrong view of graphene. A one atomic layer thin, graphene is much stronger than steel but it is still only one atomic layer and you can easily scratch it off, if you are not careful. ( I have done that many times in the lab!)
Graphene was first isolated in 2004 in Manchester, UK. As James Baker at the NGI noted, 2017 was the year it became a teenager. Read on to take a look at what this thirteen-year-old miracle material has done and what it might be capable of in future…
Graphene is currently commercially made from graphite. This creates tiny pieces of material called nanoplatelets. Such is the exceptional nature of the material that these very small pieces can confer performance improvements in a range of materials. Here are a few of the topics we covered.
I was invited to the National Graphene Institute (NGI) in Manchester and saw the work Haydale Ltd has been doing adding graphene to carbon fibre composites. They made structural components for a BAC racing car that were stronger and thirty percent lighter than standard materials.
Not as obvious and less glamorous is a composite material you might not immediately think of. Asphalt is the material that surfaces roads worldwide. Directa Plus is collaborating with another company, Iterchimica S.r.l. to add graphene to the bitumen binder. If their tests in 2018 are successful then we will have surfaces that last longer meaning less road works to hold up our journeys.
Graphene Oxide (GO) nano-platelets
During the year we looked at graphene oxide and found it was more complex than the casual observer might think.
Graphene oxide is nearly as strong as graphene. It doesn’t conduct electricity, however it does attract water and repel oils. This latter property has enabled some clever researchers to create rather useful applications for GO nanoplatelets.
In April a team at Manchester University made a filter from graphene oxide that could separate salt from seawater to make drinking water.
Then at the graphene conference in Barcelona, Spain, Dr Vivek Pachauri announced that his team had created sensors from GO. They had developed a manufacturing technique that could mass-produce biosensors that could detect prostate cancer in blood samples. This reduced the waiting time from weeks to minutes.
You can explore all of these stories and many more by following the hyperlinks in this column.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg; a selection of the work around the world that I thought might catch your attention. I’ll be closely watching developments in 2018 and beyond. Expect to be reading about more marvels right here dear InvestorIntel reader.
Millie Dresselhaus, physicist extraordinaire, Queen of Carbon, fierce advocate and trailblazer for women in sciences died this week, at the age of 86.
For anyone in the field of Graphene or Carbon Nano Tubes… she was a celebrity.
A few weeks ago, General Electric released this video featuring Millie Dresselhaus titled “What If Scientists Were Celebrities?” I encourage you to watch it. It shows a fictional world in which Millie is a celebrity known by kids, teenagers and adults alike…is followed by paparazzi everywhere and has 147.3 Million Twitter followers! In this world, kids go trick or treating dressed in her red and white outfit and iconic braided hair, and little girls get excited to get a Millie Dresselhaus doll for their birthday.
I wish that was the reality, but the truth of the matter is as she once told me: ” As a scientist you might go decades and sometimes your entire life without getting even the smallest bit of recognition for your work.” Obviously in the version of the world we live in, the most we would expect as scientists is to be recognized by our peers in our own tiny field. But what if there was a world where Millie Dresselhaus and her amazing scientific work on nano and carbon materials were so publicly recognized and revered that it inspired a new generation of young girls to become physicists and join the cool crowd!
She was the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering in 1990, the first female full professor at MIT and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, yet if you met her, what would surprise you most would be how humble and down to earth she was. I had the pleasure of meeting her a few times over the past 6 years and I learned from her that it is OK to say “I don’t know”! As a scientist, we sometimes feel like there is a sense of shame associated with saying those simple words. In one of the talks I attended, she was asked a question by a graduate student and she humbly responded: “ Hmm I don’t know”. The student looked lost for a few millisecond and she continued “Are you surprised that I am saying I don’t know? It is because I don’t know! Never be afraid to say you don’t know something.”
The video shows her wearing a tiara of hexagons, representing the honeycomb structure of carbon atoms in a graphene sheet. She truly was the queen of carbon. Perhaps in her honor, I should make a 3D printed hexagonal shaped tiara made with filaments infused/reinforced with Graphene Nano platelets. Perhaps I should give the tiara to the next brilliant girl in the STEM fields and perhaps she will be inspired by the “Millie tiara” to change the world. What do you think… anyone want to help ?
NGA is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene and addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene based materials globally