Graphene is a sheet of carbon of a minimum thickness (one atom) with unique properties. It has a monolayer hexagonal crystalline structure and is actually the basis of graphite. But it is 200 times stronger than steel and five times lighter than aluminum. Graphene's unique electrical or thermal properties make it attractive for many uses, but most are still projects . The most anticipated and that in a short time will reach mass manufacturing, will be its use to have better batteries and flexible touch screens. But there are already some practical applications of this revolutionary material ...
The American company Vorbeck was among the first to develop applications for graphene. One of the most striking was the conductive ink and other coatings. Thanks to the properties of graphene, these inks offer the properties of a layer of the magical material. This has multiple applications for industry, related to the realization of ultra-flat electronic circuits .
The first, and possibly the first real practical application of graphene, was in security labels . Instead of the bulky sensors many stores use, Siren Technology developed smart tags. They are apparently normal but thanks to graphene they have a printed circuit (never better said to be ink). They can be wrinkled or folded without damage and the cost is very low, pennies per label. A small module is attached to the tag with an alarm that sounds if tampered with, or leaves the premises without safe disconnection.
Rackets, shoe or helmets
Graphene slippers? Well, yes, although in this case it is not a question of using it pure but of composite materials that take advantage of it partially, combined. The Spanish Catlike has had bike helmets reinforced with graphene for a few years, and several shoes that use it among their materials.
You may have seen some Head “graphene” rackets - they use it in part for the base material formula. Something similar also happens with other parts: on bikes, tires (Vittoria) or the frame, or on fishing rods as well. Up to 1 percent graphene sheet sandwiched with carbon fiber is used. Thus, up to 50 percent more rigidity and better resistance to temperature are obtained than plastic material.
Hard drives and memories
Last year Team Group, which makes memory for computers, announced its new T-Force Cardea Zero SSD hard drives. These PCI-E SSDs have their chips covered by an outer sheet of copper and graphene. The foil acts as a heat sink for the delicate chips on the SSD board. Thanks to the heat conductivity of graphene, it allows them to dissipate more heat with little need for space (a sheet), either passively or actively (with a fan). The trick is in how they combine layers of copper and graphene, and it is something they have patented.
One of the advantages of graphene is its ability to detect minute amounts of substances . Even a single molecule in a large volume. After developing these properties with graphene oxide, there are several medical companies that already sell their sensors. Biolin Scientific (based in Sweden) for example has its Q-Sense GO sensor that allows the detection of different substances: it is used in medical diagnosis but also for environmental or safety studies. This sensor has been developed in Spain by the Institut Catalá de Nanosciencia, another example of our vanguard in this area.
Speakers and Headphones
A speaker converts electricity into sound by vibrating a membrane in the air. Graphene can not only be used to have a membrane of minimal weight and great rigidity , but since it is a conductor it can act as a coil and require almost no components. As graphene speakers get to us, there are some applications: the Fiio F3 headphones use a small diaphragm reinforced with graphene. This technique is also used by the Zolo Liberty, iBasso IT01, and there are others.