© SGI 2014

From carbon to treasure

UP in the air

Max and Lily are now boarding an aircraft made of advanced composites including graphene: a peculiar carbon structure that made this aircraft stronger and lighter compared to all of its predecessors.

“Graphene is like an endless honeycomb, only made of carbon” muttered Lily. Max kept searching for a movie to watch during their trip from the aircraft’s collection and didn’t listen to her at first. “Did you know that at the beginning of the 21st century air travel had the worst carbon footprint of all the other travelling options?” she repeated. “But not anymore. This carbon honeycomb saves the day! This aircraft has minimum carbon dioxide emissions”.

“It’s all about efficiency. Using new graphene composites, engineers have made super safe, lighter aircrafts that consume much less fuel” Max replied. Feeling somewhat disappointed from the airline company’s taste in movies, he took out of his pocket something that looked like a thin plastic foil.

Maxpluslily Airplane Final

He unrolled it to display a 14 inch touch screen and started tapping it to choose a movie from the hundreds he had saved there. He did so smirking. “It is not only about aircrafts though” he told her. “Graphene is a super material that revolutionised electronics”.

Graphene in numbers

Graphene is actually an extremely thin flake of ordinary carbon. Its unique properties could materialise the dreams of everybody working in electronics and in many other technologies.

10 times better  at conducting heat than copper

100 times stronger than steel but also very flexible

1,000 kilometres per second is the speed of electrons travelling in it, making it an excellent electric conductor

10,000 times thinner than a human hair

100,000 times lighter than regular printing paper

& 98% transparent to light, yet so dense that nothing can pass through it

An imaginary 1 square metre graphene-made transparent cradle would weigh less than a milligram and it could safely hold a 4 kg new-born baby!

In a nutshell…

The above characteristics could lead not only to tremendous efficiency improvements to existing technologies but also to a brand new world of applications. Transistors could be made much faster and smaller, touch screens lighter and more robust, plastics 30 degrees more resistant to heat, pollution sensors several times more sensitive. Electronics could be flexible, lighter, stronger, damage-resistant and eco-friendly.

However, scientists still study the properties of this material and the fruits of these studies haven’t ripened yet. So we can only wait to see if our graphene dreams will ever come true like in Max and Lily’s world.

Next stop… Paris!

In the meanwhile, our two heroes get ready for landing… Stay tuned to find out what the Eiffel Tower looks like in the future and how it helps power a whole suburb thanks to organic electronics!