A Super Material That Is Truly Futuristic – Graphene

For years now, most batteries in our smartphones have used lithium-ion batteries. When these first came out, they were seen as boons because of their utility and versatility. However, as the technology inside the smartphones has quickly advanced, we have been left wanting more. The lithium-ion battery is far from perfect as it cannot hold a large amount of charge relative to its size and making bulky batteries would be counterintuitive to the sleek, well designed pieces of technology currently being churned out by smartphone manufacturers. Even though lithium-ion are very useful they also degrade very easily as they lose their capacity to hold charge over time. This leads to the production of a lot of e-waste. This is very detrimental to the environment. The best solution that is currently available seems to be graphene batteries. Graphene is obtained by shaving carbon till it is at its thinnest, usually around 2-3 microns thick.

Graphene batteries are an up-and-coming technology which provide many benefits like, faster charging times, increased electrode density and improved battery lifespan. The way it is implemented in batteries is by using its properties as a superconductor. Graphene’s electrical and heat conductivity is superior to that of copper which would allow manufacturers to implement much faster charging times without having to worry about battery health. Their high heat conductance also means that graphene batteries run cooler which prolongs their lifespan. The ability of graphene batteries to hold charge cannot be understated either as these have been seen lasting for over forty hours in some testing. The bottom-line is that at the same size, graphene batteries have shown over 60% better performance when compared to a lithium-ion battery. Graphene batteries are also safer, even though lithium-ion batteries are quite safe too, they are still prone to overcharging, overheating or worst of all, punctures that may cause chemical imbalance in the batteries which may result in a fire. Graphene batteries are not prone to such dangers as they are solid state batteries with no moving parts or liquids and are hence, much safer and as is commonly said, one can never be too safe.

However, it is also possible to combine graphene and lithium-ion battery technologies to make a hybrid battery. Hybrid batteries offers greater efficiencies like lower weight, faster charge, enhanced storage capacity, when compared with existing batteries. This negates the need to pick one or the other, making the transition to graphene battery technology much quicker. The current problem with graphene is the fact that it is incredibly difficult and costly to produce. Currently, the price of production for one gram of graphene is pegged at $100. As smartphone manufacturers place large bulk orders, it is impossible to mass-produce such large quantities of graphene and is also very financially draining on manufacturers themselves. Even though portable graphene-battery technology is still in its infancy, it still does offer great prospects for future smartphones, gadgets, electric vehicles, and much more.

Looking at the genesis of Graphene, it is not too far when, Andre Geim & Konstantin Novoselov won Nobel Prize in 2010 for isolating graphene from graphite. Graphene is the thinnest material on earth as well as hardest material. It is 300 times stronger when compared to steel. It’s a super material and offers a lot of potential for solving the future problems, through advancement in material technology and applications. It has wide variety of usage, ranging from sportswear fabric, to Electric Vehicle, to Defense, to Mobile phone etc, almost application in every field, we can think. In India, Reliance signed agreement with Vorbeck Materials Corp. for developing Graphene based product and technological applications in India. Tata is also working in a big way for development of Graphene technology and products based on it. Various start-ups are actively working in this field. Large corporations have been working on nanomaterials and Graphene is one of the central elements, acquiring corporations’ interest worldwide. Hybrid graphene products are already being made available and hopefully they will be more affordable and abundant in the coming months and years. Graphene is definitely a super material that is truly futuristic and will play a greater role in solving the human problems in future.

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