Graphene - miracle material
It has been some time since German physicist Klaus von Klitzing pointed out the enormous potential of graphenes, discovered in 2004. The latest issue of Science carries a report from researchers at Columbia University on new discoveries relating to these atom-thick membranes. Their tear resistance proves to be much greater than any other known material. The researchers stretched a graphene membrane over a silicon layer containing tiny 1 - 1.5 µm diameter perforations and exerted pressure on the membrane using the 20 nm diamond tip of an atomic force microscope. This allowed them to precisely measure the elastic properties of the graphene up to the point of tearing.
As recently reported in Nature, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs were able to detect single adsorbed atoms, such as hydrogen, on a graphene membrane and observe the behaviour of these atoms in real time, using conventional transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Graphene possess a number of interesting properties, including a very high conductance, and many people believe that it may one day replace silicon as the basis for semi-conductor manufacture. Manufacturing them from graphite currently, however, remains very complicated and extremely expensive.