Graphene is widely regarded as the “wonder material” of the 21st century, largely because of its many desirable characteristics.
Those characteristics are varied as well as numerous. For instance, graphene is both incredibly strong, as well as light and thin. It’s also a good conductor of heat and electricity, and is impermeable.
Here’s an overview of those five key graphene properties. While they are by no means the material’s only exciting attributes, they are some of the ones that are most commonly referred to, and are a good starting point for investors just learning about the exciting possibilities of graphene.
1. It’s strong
Strength is one of graphene’s most oft-cited characteristics — and for good reason. Graphene is the strongest material ever discovered, and is not only 200 times stronger than steel, but also stronger than diamond.
Outlining its strength in technical terms, Graphenea states that graphene has an ultimate tensile strength of 130 gigapascals. By comparison, A3 structural steel has an ultimate tensile strength of 400 million pascals, and Aramid (Kevlar) has an ultimate tensile strength of 375.7 million pascals.
Interestingly, despite its strength, graphene can still be both stiff and elastic. Essentially, that means it can be stretched to about 20 to 25 times its original length and still not break.
2. It’s thin and light
Graphene was originally produced when scientists used Scotch tape to peel flakes of graphene off a chunk of graphite. It should thus come as no surprise that the material is very thin. In fact, it’s a 2D material, and is only 1 atom thick. To illustrate exactly what that means in real terms, many have used the example that a single sheet of graphene weighing just 1 gram could cover an entire football field.
Graphene is also extremely light. Specifically, it’s six times lighter than steel, or, as Graphenea explains, it weighs 0.77 milligrams per square meter — much lighter than a square meter of paper, which is about 1,000 times heavier.
3. It’s a good heat conductor
Graphene is not only the strongest material ever discovered, but also better at carrying heat than any other metal. It’s even better at conducting heat than copper and silver, two metals known for doing just that.
4. It can also conduct electricity
In addition to being a superb conductor of heat, graphene is also great at conducting electricity. That’s hardly surprising given that heat and electricity conduction go hand in hand — put simply, both processes involve the transportation of energy using electrons.
Graphene’s structure is responsible for its ability to conduct electricity well. While graphite consists of carbon atoms bonded together in sheets of a hexagonal lattice, graphene is made up of a single sheet of graphite; the hexagonal lattice offers little resistance to electrons, allowing them to move easily through the material.
What’s perhaps more interesting than the fact that graphene can conduct electricity is that it can do so in interesting ways. For instance, electrons move through graphene more quickly than they do in other materials, and are more mobile.
5. It’s impermeable
Finally, graphene is impermeable to gases, even very light gases, such as hydrogen and helium. Essentially, the carbon atoms that make up graphene’s hexagonal lattice are so closely knit that gases can’t get through them.
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This is an update to an article previously published on December 6, 2015 on Graphene Investing News.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.