New super materials: mile-wide breakthroughs, one atom thick

New super materials: mile-wide breakthroughs, one atom thick

Researchers from the University of Vienna in Austria reported in Nature Materials the discovery of a new super material, Carbyne.

Created inside a Thermos tube of graphene, Carbyne is said to be stronger than both graphene and diamond, and around twice as stiff as the stiffest known materials.

First isolated in 2004 by two Noble Prize winning researchers at The University of Manchester, Graphene is best known to materials scientists as the fullerene consisting of bonded carbon atoms in sheet form one atom thick.

It’s unique electrical, electronic and structural characteristics make this lightweight, thin, flexible, durable material ideal for use in electronic circuits, solar cells, sensors and other electronic devices.

Since first isolated, researchers have identified and characterized Graphene’s electronic abilities, including the bipolar transistor effect, ballistic transport of charges, and large quantum oscillation effects, to name a few.

This one-atom-thick branch of materials science has brewed a revolution in how we build smart thing; not just in electronics, but in the high-tech medical and industrial sectors as well.

Photonics researchers are particularly interested in graphene. At the recent SPIE’s Photonics Europe 2016 conference, graphene and its possible uses headlined the all-day session: Transitioning from Research to Commercialization.

Four distinct areas of interest were explored. Each focused on different aspects of graphene and its integration into various devices: (1) photonic devices for data communications; (2) infrared and terahertz applications in detection and sensing; (3) wafer-scale processing and integration; and finally (4) interested industries, commercialization, next steps and challenges.

Photonics is not about electronics, but rather “the science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection/sensing,” according to Wikipedia.

The global market for Graphene is reported to have reached $9 million by 2014, with most sales going into in the semiconductor, electronics, battery energy and composites industries.

Two recent advances speak to graphene’s ongoing utility in electronics: the first is a ‘graphene filter’ for microchips that could support wireless transmission rates ten times faster than today’s chips; the second, a so-called ‘white graphene’ electrolyte that allows batteries to work at higher voltages and energy density. Details here.

[Photo: brilliant too are carbon hybrids graphene, and carbine, harder than a diamond.]

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