Graphene is another allotrope of carbon and a new material. First isolated in 2004, it holds great promise for uses in many industries in the future including: electronics, solar panels, touch screens, LED lighting and in many new composite materials including bullet proof vests. Graphene consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a chicken wire arrangement of hexagons, similar to that found in graphite. Graphene is a very thin substance at only one atom thick. Stacked layers of graphene form graphite. The first samples of graphene were obtained by removing single layers of these carbon hexagons from graphite using some very hi-tech stuff- sellotape!! Like graphite each carbon atoms makes three strong covalent bonds leaving one free electron. This free electron is responsible for the excellent electrical conductivity of graphene. The three strong covalent bonds made by each carbon atom make graphene an incredibly strong material, some 200 times stronger than steel.

structure of graphene

Uses of graphene

Graphene is one of the strongest substances known despite only being one atom thick, it is an excellent thermal (heat) and electrical conductor, it is transparent and highly flexible. These properties seem like a scientists dream material and open up graphene to a mass of uses. Possible uses include: