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Graphene: Nanotechnology crowd is agog

Forbes.com’s Josh Wolfe interviews Andre Geim, a prominent graphene researcher, about the latest nanotechnology buzzword and buzzmaterial — a free-standing, two-dimensional crystal of carbon in a hexagonal lattice. Of course, it’s not truly two-dimensional — it’s one atom thick, not zero atoms thick — but close enough:

In the scientific community, the area of graphene has been generating the type of buzz more akin to the newest Steven Spielberg summer blockbuster than a new class of two-dimensional materials…

In order to make graphene operational as a good transistor, it has to be about 10nm in size. One angstrom thick, but you need to confine it laterally to say 10nm in size. Then it starts working as a good transistor. Silica runs smoothly to about 15nm and graphene can’t compete at those sizes.

After silicon hits the wall and you need less than 15nm at these sizes, graphene transistors become nicely operational. Graphene, unlike other materials we know, remains very stable and highly conductive when it is confined to sizes less than 10nm.

Stable under 10 nanometers: sounds useful for productive nanosystems and atomically-precise manufacturing, as well as computation. —Christine

6 Responses to “Graphene: Nanotechnology crowd is agog”

  1. Charles H. Tankersley Says:

    It seems to me that a hexagonal lattice would leave one electron free on each carbon atom for binding, say, in a carbon fiber composite. This, then could present one of the strongest of all fabrication and/or construction materials known to man. It could be extra light, extra thin, with enhanced electrical properties. This looks like it can be the ideal material for construction of space vehicles and earthbound building, vehicles, and energy devices.

  2. Jim C Says:

    They can’t make it stable at larger sizes because it pulls itself together in bunches. Perhaps repels random sections is a better description. Might be a way to solve that it that may not be a problem with layers or with some form of applied charges.

    Some thoughts on similar materials here.

    http://dcssec.blogspot.com/search?q=nanotubes

  3. VV Says:

    Graphene’s very promising, but don’t get too carried away just yet. We need to see if these materials can be produced on the pilot scale first. Once that’s possible, end users can start experimenting with it, and learn how to use it.

    This may not be possible in the near term (say three years). Until that happens, there’s a long wait until graphene’s productivity and/or usefulness can be confirmed in the first place.

    Not to rain on anyone’s parade, here, but it is worth noting for pragmatism’s sake.

  4. VV Says:

    PS Check out also work being done by Rodney Ruoff (NWU), Larry Drzal (MSU), Robert Prud’homme (Princeton). These guys are graphene buffs, steady research on for a while now.

  5. AK Says:


    Of course, it’s not truly two-dimensional — it’s one atom thick, not zero atoms thick — but close enough

    Actually it truly is a two-dimensional crystal, which, , in Condensed Matter theory, is all that matters. Due to the symmetry of the problem, the electron sees a two dimensional periodic potential, which in turn gives graphene the properties of a true two dimensional metal. The “thickness” is immaterial.

    Far more important is the presence of the substrate, which breaks the mirror symmetry of the graphene plane, and defects or impurities in or on the graphene, which can break the two-dimensional translational symmetry.

  6. Christine Peterson Says:

    Thanks for that useful clarification, AK! —Christine

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