Why Sri Lankan Graphene is special?

Graphene is the wonder material of the 21st century, which has unique material properties that can invade the production industry and lead to graphene valley. You may think what graphene is? Graphene is a single thin layer of graphite. We all know graphite is an allotrope of carbon; a simple example is a lead pencil that contains graphite. Graphene is a two-dimensional material, and carbon atoms are in a honeycomb pattern with one atomic thickness.



Discovery of graphene

In 2004, Prof.Andre Geim and Prof.Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester discovered and isolated a single atomic layer of carbon for the first time and named it graphene. They used a roll of scotch tape to isolate graphene from graphite. Since graphene made many changes in technology, the pair received a Nobel prize in Physics in 2010.

What is special in graphene?

Graphene has unique material properties, which leads to new inventions in electronics, energy systems, agriculture, apparel, and medicine. The following unique properties make graphene unique from the other existing materials.

  • Flexibility

  • Transparency

  • High conductance

  • Impermeability

  • Super conductance

We know the mechanical property of a material is dependent on stiffness (force need to deform), strength (force need to break), and toughness (energy need to break). Graphene has high toughness and low stiffness. Also, it is 100 times stronger than steel and more rigid than diamond. These properties make it a highly flexible, more robust material. The defects in the single-layer of graphene may cause weak links. The recent approach of diffusing with other metal atoms approach to overcome. Therefore it can be a move towards the flexible electronics industry. Sensors, actuators, tiny flexible circuits, touch screens, and Li-graphene batteries are some example applications in electronics.

Widely used transparent material, glass is brittle and insulator. But graphene is highly strong, flexible, highly conductive, and transparent. Graphene's electrical conductivity is more excellent than copper. Similarly, thermal conductivity is ten times greater than copper. Impermeable property is something different from the other properties which do not allow particles to pass through it. Since graphene resists water and permits selective gases, it can be used as a barrier coating against rusting and the apparel industry. The impermeable property of graphene oxide is used in water purification and Carbon Dioxide gas separation. Graphene coated fabric (thin Nanosheet ) can block chemical exposure and protection from a mosquito bite.

Superconductivity is a unique property where material show zero resistance with the temperature and zero energy loss condition. Tri-layer of graphene is the only pure element which shows superconductivity above zero degree Celsius. It is nearly 1.7 degrees Celsius from the research. So graphene layer coated copper wire's energy loss is comparatively significantly lower than regular copper wire.

The above unique properties bring more attention to the graphene industry.

Sri Lankan graphite

Sri Lanka has nearly 400 years of graphite history. In 1824, graphite mining and exportation of Ceylon graphite began, and now we are a significant exporter in graphite to the world market. There are three major graphite mines in our country. They are Kahatagaha, Bogala and Ragedara mines. Sri Lankan graphite costs ~$1.5 per kg and our graphite have the high purity with 90% carbon content which is highly demanding with the growth of hybrid, electric cars and electronics.

Why Sri Lankan graphene is special?

Since graphene can only be extracted easily from the highly pure graphite, Sri Lanka is the only nation that has that extraordinary natural resource. The excellent material graphene costs ~$3500 per kg, which can change our life. But the major issue faced in the extraction of graphene is the production cost of graphene. Therefore we need to get the maximum use of our mother nation's wonderful gift other than exporting vein graphite with low-profit compare to the graphene. Graphene-related researches (Other efficient methods to extract graphene from graphite) and investment in graphene production are essential with the demand of Sri Lankan graphite in the world market.

Let us move towards Sri Lankan graphene valley in the coming decades."

Dec 16, 2020