Graphene Scientifically Obscene


Sorry, couldn’t resist the grabby title.  Speaking of resistance (duh duh), graphene is a sheet of carbon that has remarkably low resistance that will become the future of (no, not rock n roll) – electronics.

Basically, graphene is a single sheet of graphite.  And yes, graphite is just stacks of graphene.  So, why the big fuss?  Why does this substance make scientists blush and internists squeal?  Well, that would be in its interesting properties.  But, before we move to that, let’s step back and get the lay of the land.

Really, graphene arose out of study of carbon nanotubes.  These were tubes of, you guessed it, carbon.  Except they are really really small – hence the nano part.  Scientists quickly realized that carbon nanotubes conducted electricity really well.  The problem was that placing and linking carbon nanotubes is really hard.  That’s when scientists thought, “Self, how can we overcome this precarious tendency of nanotubes?”  The answer was to lay the tube flat.

Yeah, cut that sucker open and go linear.  Now, all of a sudden, graphitic materials could be worked just like silicon.  But, where silicon fails – names at the nano scale, graphitic materials open a can.  Yep, graphite goes nano.

Feynman had a great lecture in 1959 (geez – a little ahead of his time!) entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.”  You should seriously read that lecture – it’s fabulous.  What we are talking about with graphene would fit nicely into that discussion.  That’s because graphene is going to boggle the mind with miniaturization.  You think technology is small now?  Graphene will help propel us toward the bottom quickly.

I don’t know when that will happen, but it’s going to rock our world when it does.  And if that doesn’t make you think – take a look at a nano factory.


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