If you plan on researching Graphene, you’re in plenty of company!
Last year, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, two researchers from the University of Manchester, won the Nobel prize in Physics for their discovery of a new material: Graphene. How did they make this discovery ? They peeled away small flakes of Graphite using sticky tape, resulting in a one atom thick layer of carbon.
Incredibly strong, yet light weight Graphene has many applications; the video above features a flexible touch screen developed by a team at the Graphene Research Lab at Seoul National University and even more recently, Graphene has even been used in Robots! Yi Xie at the University of Science and Technology in China has made a robot partially out of Graphene. The robot is capable of picking up round objects and dropping them in a container.
How does Graphene give the robot its smooth moves? The team put a layer of Graphene on top of their robot’s actuator, enabling it to convert energy into heat at high efficiency through the absorption of infrared light. The team then cut out the layer of Graphene and observed it curling into a cylindrical form. When they switched the infrared light on again, the strip uncurled. Hence, the strip of Graphene could be controlled by the infrared light.
While Graphene is a fairly new material, it’s far from being remotely explored- according to an article by the BBC about 200 companies and start-ups are now involved in Graphene research and in 2010, it was the subject of about 3,000 research papers.
Some researchers have claimed that Graphene could replace silicon in many applications however, even Andre Geim thinks that day is very off “The prospect is so far beyond the horizon that we cannot even assess it properly”. Many experts have expressed that the applications of Graphene and silicon are very different, the main problem with Graphene being that as it doesn’t stop conducting electricity… you can never really turn it off.