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Graphene: A Future Cure for Damaged Spinal Cords

Author: American Chemical Society

Published: 2012-10-10

Synopsis:

Main Digest

Graphene could be used in the future to help repair spinal cord injuries, as well as revolutionize the electronics industry.

Graphene - A substance discovered by a team out of the University of Manchester in 2004. It is a sheet of carbon atoms bound together with double electron bonds (called a sp2 bond) in a thin film only one atom thick. Atoms in graphene are arranged in a honeycomb-style lattice pattern. Graphene is the thinnest material known, and at the same time one of the strongest. It's single layer of carbon atoms is both pliable and transparent. The material conducts electricity (a million times that of copper) and heat (better than any other known material) very effectively, and is very inexpensive to produce. Graphene has no band gap. A band gap is the gap between the energy of an electron when it is bound to an atom, and the so-called conduction band, where it is free to move around. Graphene can also stretch up to 20 percent of its length.

Smart phones almost as thin and flexible as paper and virtually unbreakable.

Solar panels molded to cover the surface of an electric or hybrid car.

Possible treatments for damaged spinal cords.

It's not science fiction.

Those all are possible applications of a material known as graphene.

This so-called "wonder material," the world's strongest (100 times stronger than steel) and thinnest (one ounce would cover 28 football fields), is the focus of a new episode of the ChemMatters video series. The video is at www.BytesizeScience.com

The video, from the award-winning Digital Services Unit in the American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs, explains how graphene's incredible properties originate from the unique arrangement of its atoms. ACS is the world's largest scientific society.

Like diamonds and coal, graphene is made up entirely of carbon.

But unlike those materials, graphene's carbon atoms are arranged in two-dimensional sheets, making it incredibly strong and flexible.

A still from the new ACS video, which highlights the properties and potential applications of the wonder material graphene.
A still from the new ACS video, which highlights the properties and potential applications of the wonder material graphene.

Since graphene also conducts electricity as well as copper, it could lead to flexible cell phone touch-screens and transparent, inexpensive solar cells.

Ongoing advances in manufacturing graphene are bringing these and other devices closer to reality.

The video is based on an article in the latest issue of ChemMatters, ACS' quarterly magazine for high school students, and was produced by the team behind ACS' award-winning Bytesize Science videos.

ChemMatters has been connecting chemistry to our everyday lives for the past 28 years.

Published quarterly by the ACS Office of High School Chemistry, each issue contains articles about the chemistry of everyday life and is of interest to high school students and their teachers.

See the video clip below for more details relating to Graphene properties.

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