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Nanotechnology’s new darling: graphene

For nanotechnology watchers who are experiencing nanotube fatigue, Scientific American recaps a newer nanotech material capturing the imagination:

Called graphene, it is essentially a nanotube unrolled—a single layer of atoms arranged like a honeycomb. The difference may sound cosmetic, but when the goal is manipulating things that are a few atoms thick, going from tube to sheet makes a big difference.

Although graphene, too, faces many obstacles on the road to applications, its combination of exotic physics and high-tech potential is attracting scores of researchers. “For the moment there is at least a big hope … that graphene might be the future,” says physicist Andre Geim of the University of Manchester in England, who first isolated it in 2004.

Carbon, in all its forms, is expected to play an increasing role as nanotechnology advances, especially the 3D version (diamond and diamondoid). —Christine

7 Responses to “Nanotechnology’s new darling: graphene”

  1. Rob Juneau Says:

    Hello Christine.

    Is this a good place for me to be asking simple questions about carbon-carbon bonds? Too often the more I think I understand, the more confusing it all gets. Maybe some of your other readers can point me in useful directions?

    Thanks to all,

    /R

  2. Christine Peterson Says:

    Rob — Feel free to ask questions here. Another place to try:

    http://groups.google.com/group/sci.nanotech/topics

    There are also nanotech discussion groups on many of the social networking sites.

    –Christine

  3. Rob Juneau Says:

    You’re the best. What is the difference between a carbon-carbon bond and a double carbon bond? Are either relevant to the production and use of graphene?

    /R

  4. Christine Peterson Says:

    I believe when they say “carbon-carbon bond” they normally mean a single bond between two carbon atoms. A double carbon bond means a “double bond”, which is kind of like a double-strength bond, between two carbon atoms. Graphene bonds are “aromatic”, which in this case is sort of in between single and double.

    You can learn more about this by starting with the Wikipedia entry on graphene. A good high school chemistry text should explain these matters more simply than Wikipedia does, I think. You might try the Wikibooks on General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikibooks:Natural_sciences_bookshelf

    —Christine

  5. Rob Juneau Says:

    Thanks very much. With any luck, I’ll be back with more interesting questions soon.

    /R

  6. Phillip Huggan Says:

    Rob, this is an overview of the field of nanorobotics penned Oct/05:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=cache:MVYiY4DKpTYJ:www.osti.gov/energycitations/product.biblio.jsp%3Fosti_id%3D875622+

  7. Rob Juneau Says:

    A useful orientation, Phillip, thank you. Particularly interested in the work of Cumings and Zettl, and of the Stevens and Nguyen groups mentioned in the second and third paragraphs of the section on nanowelding, I believe you’ve saved me a lot of time and I appreciate it.

    Are you aware of any images depicting the types of carbon bonds (possibly at high and low temps and/or under stress?) that I might also have a look at?

    /R

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