Graphene: Current Scenario
The ground-breaking experiments on graphene in Manchester initiated a field of research moving at an ever faster rate, and gained the 2010 Physics Nobel prize to Andre Geim and Kostantin Novoselov. Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon whose strength, flexibility, optical properties, electrical and thermal conductivity have opened new horizons for fundamental physics, together with technological innovations in electronic, optical, and energy sectors.
Potential electronics applications of graphene include high-frequency devices and RF communications, touch screens, flexible and wearable electronics, as well as chemical and biosensors, biomedical implants, NEMS, super-dense data storage, or photonic devices. In the energy field, potential applications include supercapacitors and batteries to store and transit electrical power, and highly efficient solar cells or flow cells which could revolutionize renewable energies. However, in the medium term, some of graphene’s most appealing potential lies in its ability to transmit light as well as electricity, offering improved performances of light emitting diodes (LEDs) and aid in the production of next-generation devices like flexible touch screens, photodetectors, and ultrafast lasers. Beyond Graphene there are very many other two-dimensional materials with distinctive properties regarding their bulk counterparts. This has triggered a great deal of activity in the flatland playground where engineering novel materials using the third dimension is also matter of excitement for creating an endless portfolio of enabling materials and boost industrial innovation. Graphene-based materials as well as other two-dimensional materials are functional materials for ubiquitous electronics applications in the fields of information and communication technology (ICT), energy, sensor or medicine/biology and wearable and flexible electronics. These materials offer a completely new horizon for physicists, chemists and engineers. After the discovery of fullerene and carbon nanotubes, graphene has complemented the sp2 carbon family, being at the same time more suitable for (co)-integration and connection to CMOS technologies, benefiting from conventional techniques of lithography and material engineering. Graphene also appears as a unique platform bridging conventional technologies with the nanoscale Pandora´s box, enabling chemistry to enrich material and device properties.
There are many other potential uses of graphene because of its unique combination of properties. Graphene is transparent like plastic but conducts heat and electricity better than metal, it is an elastic thin film, behaves as an impermeable membrane, and it is chemically inert and stable.
However, the mass production of high quality graphene remains one of the greatest challenges, in particular when it comes to maintaining the material properties and performance upon up-scaling, which includes large quantity production for material/energy-oriented applications and wafer-scale integration for device/ICTs-oriented applications.