Graphene has emerged as one of the most promising nanomaterials because of its unique combination of properties: it is not only one of the thinnest but also strongest materials; it conducts heat better than all other materials; it is a great conductor of electricity; it is optically transparent, yet so dense that it is impermeable to gases – not even helium, the smallest gas atom, can pass through it. These amazing properties, and its multifunctionality, make graphene suitable for a wide spectrum of applications ranging from electronics to optics, sensors, and biodevices.
Graphene’s unique physical and electrical properties (high tensile strength, Young’s modulus, electron mobility, and thermal conductivity) have led to its nickname of “super carbon.” Graphene can include a single layer, two layers, or ≤10 sheets of sp2 carbon atoms. The chemistry and applications available with graphene depend on both the physical form of the graphene and the number of layers in the material.
A key electrical property of graphene is its electron mobility (the speed at which electrons move within it when a voltage is applied). Graphene’s electron mobility is faster than any known material and researchers are developing methods to build transistors on graphene that would be much faster than the transistors currently built on silicon wafers.
Graphene is a transparent and flexible conductor that holds promise for various material/device applications, including solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LED), touch panels, and smart windows or phones. Graphene has also been used in other fundamental electronic devices, such as capacitors and Field Effect Transistors (FETs), in which it can act as an atomically thin channel.
Other early commercial uses of graphene include fillers such as a graphene-infused printer powder. Graphene supercapacitors serve as energy storage alternatives to traditional electrolytic batteries. Among advantages are fast charging, long life span, and environmentally friendly production.