Graphene at Fifteen


Ruquan Ye and Dr. James M. Tour assess progress on graphene at fifteen years, showing significant research advances since the isolation of few-layer graphene by mechanical exfoliation in 2004.

Since the isolation of few-layer graphene (FLG) by mechanical exfoliation in 2004, there have been significant advances in graphene research, ranging from fundamental science to applied technologies. The ability to prepare high-quality single-layer graphene (SLG) and FLG has enabled successive discoveries that capitalize on the fascinating properties of graphene. In the early years of research, SLG was demonstrated to have high mechanical strength, with a Young’s modulus of 1 TPa, high electron mobility at 2.5 × 105 cm2 V−1s−1, high optical transparency at 97.4% transmittance at 550 nm, high chemical stability, and a high thermal conductivity of 3000 W mK−1.

More recently, additional breakthroughs have been achieved by manipulating the graphene structure, such as band gap opening of layered graphene, quantum tunneling by vertical heterogeneous stacking, and the superconductivity of twisted bilayer graphene. With all these merits arising from one material, graphene demonstrates potential advantages over many existing market products, and it has been suggested as the leader of the next generation of revolutionary materials technologies. For example, FLG has a transparency and sheet resistance comparable to that of indium tin oxide (ITO), a widely used material in electronics. Yet, graphene’s superior mechanical flexibility makes it more suitable than ITO for flexible electronics applications.

Research on graphene continues to expand, and the topics have extended from the synthesis and applications of graphene to the exotic properties of its derivatives. A majority of past research was at the laboratory scale, and concerns exist regarding the feasibility of commercializing graphene. For industrial applications, graphene manufacturing must be scalable while addressing the trade-offs between quality and the cost of the graphene product. Further, the feasibility of using graphene to replace existing products and whether graphene can meet product performance specifications while overcoming price pressure from competing materials must be evaluated. So far, graphene products have shown advantages in several fields ranging from aerospace to supporting equipment.

With the goal of promoting and lobbying for the commercialization of graphene, the National Graphene Institute in Europe and the National Graphene Association in the United States have been established. The commercialization of graphene calls on the standardization of different grades, the development of technologies pertaining to the cost-effective production of those grades of graphene, and the assessment of risks to the environment and health. Access full article here.

About the National Graphene Association (NGA)

The National Graphene Association is the main organization and body in the U.S. advocating and promoting the commercialization of graphene. NGA is focused on addressing critical issues such as policy and standards development that will result in effective integration of graphene and graphene-based materials globally. NGA brings together current and future graphene stakeholders — entrepreneurs, companies, researchers, developers and suppliers, investors, venture capitalists, and government agencies — to drive innovation, and to promote and facilitate the commercialization of graphene products and technologies.

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