Graphene could help reduce the energy cost of producing heavy water and decontamination in nuclear power plants by over one hundred times compared with current technologies, University of Manchester research indicates.
Graphene, millions of ultra-thin layers that stack together to form graphite commonly found in pencils, was first studied as long ago as 1947.
That electric current would be carried by effectively massless charge carriers in graphene was pointed out theoretically in 1984, and the name 'graphene' was first mentioned in 1987 to describe the graphite layers that had various compounds inserted between them. The term was used extensively in work on carbon nanotubes, which are rolled up graphene sheets.
Attempts to grow graphene on other single crystal surfaces have been ongoing since the 1970s, but strong interactions with the surface on which it was grown always prevented the true properties of graphene being measured experimentally.