The science of Graphene
Graphene is a material that is getting a lot of attention. People are asking what is graphene, how can it be used, and what does it cost? The purpose of this post is to discuss graphene in greater detail and provide answers to those questions.
WHAT IS GRAPHENE?
Graphene is a layer of carbon atoms that is one atom thick. The atoms are arranged in a hexagonal pattern called a lattice. You probably remember your #2 pencils having graphite in them. It is an amazingly versatile substance. Some even call it a wonder material with its seemingly never-ending list of properties and uses.
WHAT IS GRAPHENE USED FOR?
As graphene is such a versatile material and has the ability to be combined with metal and gases, the applications are limitless. There are scientists worldwide looking into what they can do with graphene. Some common areas of research and application include antennas, batteries, body armor, computer chips, DNA sequencing, energy generation, solar cells, supercapacitors, touchscreens, transistors, and water filters.
CAN GRAPHENE STOP A BULLET?
Yes, indeed it can! Citizen Armor bulletproof vests function on this fact. Our armor is designed to be a soft body armor option that benefits from graphene microfiber. Layers of graphene sheets are positioned to provide NIJ Level 3A ballistic protection. That means they can stop up to a .44 magnum. While other types of armor can do the same, they weigh more and often cannot take multiple impacts. One of our Citizen Armor vests, featuring our Protek graphene armor, has taken 113 bullets without penetration. Check it out!
IS GRAPHENE STRONGER THAN A DIAMOND?
Yes, it is. Graphene is currently the strongest material that’s been discovered by science. The atoms are so tightly bonded that it is stronger than diamond and 200 times stronger than steel. Despite being that strong, graphene is also flexible and stretchable.
WHY IS GRAPHENE NOT USED?
There are applications where graphene would work, but due to its cost, it is not feasible. As technology advances in the production of high quality one atom thick layers of graphene, the costs will likely go down, and it will be used for a much wider range of applications.
One thing to keep in mind is that the quality of graphene affects the price. Graphene oxide, which is easier to produce, is sold in a solution for about $120 USD for 250 mL. According to Investor Intel, graphene sells for between $100 and $200 per gram.
Citizen Armor offers body armor products featuring graphene starting at $99 dollars for a 7×10 inch bulletproof backpack insert. For school or the office, we offer graphene armored bulletproof binders starting at $249. Our bulletproof vests start at $599 for a fully concealable vest.
HOW TO MAKE GRAPHENE
Graphene can come in two forms, sheets and flakes. Graphene sheets are more difficult to make, but they do lend themselves to higher-end fabrication processes. The flakes by contrast are less costly to produce and are often used in electronics and sports equipment.
Graphene sheets are produced via a chemical vapor deposition process. This is achieved by combining gas molecules in a reaction chamber at room temperature. The gas leaves deposits on a substrate and after the gases are removed from the chamber it leaves a sheet of graphene.
Graphene flakes, by contrast, are much more simple to produce. Methane, which is rich in carbon, reacts with copper to produce graphene at high temperatures. The copper is heated to 1,000 degrees Celsius and is then exposed to methane. Graphene will form on the copper as a result of the heat.
At one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest material that has been discovered by man. It is 200 times stronger than steel. In addition to being thin and strong, it is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, along with fascinating light absorption properties.