Frequently Asked Questions
What is Graphene?
Carbon naturally occurs in two forms (allotropes)—diamond and graphite. In diamonds the atoms are tightly bonded in tetrahedrons. With graphite, carbon atoms bond tightly in a 2D hexagonal honeycomb lattice (layer). Weaker forces called van der Waals bonds hold each layer together. These weaker forces can be broken to yield a single layer just one carbon atom thick. This single layer is known as graphene. The unusual structure makes graphene the thinnest, lightest and strongest material known to humanity.
Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov first isolated graphene at the University of Manchester in 2004. They did so by removing flakes with sticky tape from a sample of lump graphite. They repeated the process until just a single, one carbon atom-thick flake remained. Their efforts earned them a 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Today, the global race is on to develop new graphene products that will revolutionize our lives.
Properties of Graphene
- Lightest and thinnest material known at 0.33nm (1 millionth the thickness of human hair)
- 200x stronger than steel
- High thermal conductivity for thermal management applications
- Almost invisible
- Graphene is the most stretchable crystal; it can be stretched up to 20% of its initial size without breaking
- Large surface area (~2,630 m2 per gram)
- High electrical current density at room temperature; greater than silver and copper
- Impermeable to all gases, and has the ability to absorb 2.3% visible light
- High electron mobility (250,000 cm2V-1s-1) compared to Silicon (1400 cm2V-1s-1)
What is Graphene Oxide (GO)?
Graphene oxide is a chemically derived form of graphene, which is prepared by the oxidation of graphite which increases its interlayer spacing, facilitating exfoliation. GO is a single sheet of graphene which also contains oxygen and hydrogen functional groups on its surface and edges.
What is reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO)?
When additional processes are applied to graphene oxide to remove the oxygen and hydrogen content. This creates reduced graphene oxide (rGO).
How is Graphene Produced?
There are two ways to produce graphene: from the top down or from the bottom up.
Producing graphene from the top down involves splitting the naturally-occurring layers in graphite in a process known as exfoliation. It can be accomplished through a mechanical or chemical process.
The bottom up method of graphene production involves “growing” graphene, depositing carbon molecules onto a substrate by chemical vapour deposition (CVD).
How Much Does Graphene Cost?
Graphene is a relatively new nano-material. It has no well-established market or quoted market price. Like most specialty materials, prices vary considerably depending on product specifications and quality. At the highest quality, graphene may fetch hundreds of dollars or more per gram. One of the competitive advantages of graphite derived from ZEN’s Albany Deposit is its ready conversion to 1-4 layer graphene—the higher value segment of the market.
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