What can graphene do?

Graphene's properties

Prof Robert Young discusses the uses of graphene composite materials and their many promising commercial applications

Graphene: the world's first 2D material. Since graphene's isolation in 2004 it has captured the attention of scientists, researchers and industry worldwide.

  • It is ultra-light yet immensely tough.
  • It is 200 times stronger than steel, but it is incredibly flexible.
  • It is the thinnest material possible as well as being transparent.
  • It is a superb conductor and can act as a perfect barrier - not even helium can pass through it.

All this and more. Much more.

Current applications

At The University of Manchester, graphene research is focused on the following applications: EnergyMembranesComposites and CoatingsBiomedicalSensorsElectronics.

This is only the start. These are only the first steps. The potential of graphene is limited only by imagination.

Graphene eye

Future technology

So where will graphene take us? How will it change our world? What benefits will it bring to mankind? What applications will we see in the near future and decades to come?

Clean drinking water for millions. Graphene membranes could see huge progress in water purification technology in developing countries and provide more efficient desalination plants.

Electronics and energy storage could also be revolutionised by graphene. Flexible, durable, semi-transparent mobile phones. Wearable technology, clothing that communicates. Electric sports cars. Lightweight planes. These are the future technologies which are becoming realistic in our present.

Chicken wire
Artistic impression of a corrugated graphene sheet

What does graphene look like?

  • Graphene is made up of a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms in a honeycomb like structure.
  • It is just one-atom thick but absorbs 2.3% of light so it can be seen with the naked eye.
  • It can potentially be used to create semi-transparent electronics.
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