“King of New Materials” Graphene

The carbon element supports the entire organic ecological environment. Whether it is higher organisms like humans or ants in an ant nest, they are all connected by a skeleton formed by carbon atoms. In addition, in the history of human development, the charcoal, oil, gas, and even food we rely on for survival are all composed of carbon elements. Hence, carbon materials are of great significance to humanity.


In 1789, Lavoisier included elemental carbon in the table of elements in his textbook. At the same time, people discovered a large number of allotropes of elemental carbon, such as diamond, graphite, lonsdaleite, wax stone, mercury integrity structure, Carbon aerogel, carbon nanofoam, etc. It was in the last century that Hans Bush invented the first electron lens in human history. In the following decades, with the rapid development of characterization technology and nanotechnology, humans successively discovered phenanthrene, carbon nanotubes, and carbon Carbon materials with special microstructures such as quantum dots.

Graphene is a two-dimensional material composed of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure. The earliest scientists believed that it was only a theoretical material and could not exist in a free state. In 2004, Andre, a physicist at the University of Manchester in the UK, ·Heim, and Konstantin Novoselov successfully separated graphene from graphite using the Scotch tape peeling method, thereby proving that graphene can exist alone. This discovery won them the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. The family of carbon materials has also become more complete due to the discovery of graphene. This family currently includes zero-dimensional fullerene, one-dimensional carbon nanotubes, two-dimensional graphene, and three-dimensional graphite and diamond. Graphene is not only a single-layer carbon atom material. Still, it can also be the basic unit that makes up other dimensional carbon materials: wrapping graphene into a sphere gives zero-dimensional fullerene, and rolling graphene can produce one-dimensional carbon nanotubes. A three-dimensional graphite structure can be gotten by stacking graphene.


In fact, graphene already exists in nature. For example, 1 mm thick graphite contains approximately 3 million layers of graphene. When a pencil lightly scratches the paper, the traces left behind maybe just a few layers of graphene. However, as early as 70 years ago, theoretical research showed that a perfect two-dimensional structure crystal cannot exist stably in an environment other than absolute zero, and it is difficult to peel off a single-layer structure, which led to the discovery of graphene in 2004.

Graphene is a unique material with a single atomic layer hexagonal honeycomb structure, which makes it extraordinary.

As the hardest and thinnest material currently known, graphene also has very high light transmittance, is so dense that no matter except protons can penetrate it, and has extremely high electron mobility, thermal conductivity and the ability to carry extremely high current densities. It combines many excellent properties. Therefore, graphene is called the "King of New Materials" and is expected to become the symbol of a new civilizational era that humanity will usher in after stone tools, bronze, steel, and silicon. Material.

Graphene has important potential application prospects in the fields of electronic information, energy, functional materials, biomedicine, aerospace, energy conservation and environmental protection. However, large-scale, low-cost production of high-quality graphene materials is a prerequisite for its industrial application. At present, the preparation of graphene mainly includes two processes: the "top-down" method and the "bottom-up" method. The so-called "top-down" method refers to starting from graphite, peeling off the layers of graphite to obtain two-dimensional microscopic graphene, which is a "from many to one" process, and "bottom-up" The method refers to starting from a carbon-containing compound, using high energy to destroy the chemical bonds of the compound so that the carbon atoms are detached from it and then gather regularly to grow into graphene. It is a "zero to one" process. The former mainly includes the liquid phase exfoliation method, redox method, and mechanical exfoliation method, while the latter mainly includes the chemical vapor deposition method and silicon carbide crystal epitaxial growth method.


Liu Zhongfan, a professor at Peking University, introduced graphene materials in three different forms: powder, film, and fiber. The materials have different forms and different uses. Since 2010, the application of graphene materials has been mainly powder materials, used as electric heating products, conductive additives, anti-corrosion coatings, etc. What is worth looking forward to in the next ten years is one-dimensional graphene fiber materials, which are expected to be used as heat dissipation films, functional fibers, structural reinforcement fibers, and even superconductors. In terms of material form, from powder materials to fiber materials, to film and wafer materials, it may be regarded as the foreseeable development process of graphene materials.

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