How can atom-thick graphene
be used to make new
The billion dollar EU project, Graphene Flagship,
outlined graphene’s most promising potential
-Sensors and imaging
Graphene is one of the most versatile non-metal
materials in the world. The number of its potential
applications is almost limitless; with its strength,
light-weight, thinness, conductivity, and
transparency, it has the potential to revolutionize
entire industries (Graphene-info, 2019).
-As a composite, graphene can enhance the
strength of other materials, which can find uses in
aerospace (see Figure 3), building materials, and in
-Graphene can also be utilized in heat sinks and
other cooling applications, especially in
microelectronics to also make use of its thinness
As with all nanotechnology, the question of
graphene’s safety should and has been questioned.
Its small size makes it a potential health hazard as
they can pass undetected through human biological
filters, especially if inhaled or ingested. From there,
graphene flakes would be too small and inert for the
human body to naturally break down and remove
Ken Donaldson, a respiratory toxicologist at the
University of Edinburgh, says that while graphene
flakes would be labelled as being a few dozen
micrometers, they could behave as if much smaller,
infiltrating our body’s blood system where they
would be too large for white blood cells to engulf.
Sanchez, another toxicologist, says that graphene
may have the ability to instigate tumour growth and
so “mechanistic toxicity studies” are “essential” for
“safer design” with “minimal risks for environmental
health and safety” (Sanchez et al, 2012).
Both toxicologists state that it is not known whether
graphene flakes can become airborne and be
inhaled, but one thing is for sure: further research is
Graphene is an allotrope of carbon, composed of a
monolayer of carbon atoms covalently bound in a
hexagonal lattice. It is the world’s first 2-
An allotrope is each of two or more different
physical forms in which an element can exist
(dictionary.com, n.d). Other allotropes of carbon
include graphite (Figure 5), diamond, and coal.
First isolated in 2004 by two scientists at the
University of Manchester, using scotch tape to
separate sheets of graphene from a lump of
As a result of its structure, graphene is the thinnest
(one atom thick), lightest, strongest material known
to man, as well as the best thermal and electrical
conductor (Berger, 2019).
Additionally, it is almost transparent, giving it
potential uses in optical technologies.
Hailed as the future’s 2D “miracle” material, it has
an almost unlimited number of applications – it
could potentially be used in composites, energy
production, telecommunications, electronics, and
It is a highly...