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LITERATURE REVIEW
Graphene and its applications
Siti Nor Zaimah binti Zaini
Master in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Multimedia University
Abstract
Graphene is an amazing material that has a new impact on modern technology for human. It is by far
the slimmest material in the world yet the strongest. It exhibits the properties from carbon, therefore
capable of carrying electrons without scattering at room temperature. It is also a better material than
copper for its conductivity and against weaknesses such as ductility and fragility. Graphene research
has developed at a very fast pace and amount of papers produced on graphene increases every day.
Although it is still green in the market, the applications of graphene grow exponential and diversity
from light to aviation. This literature review analyses the recent graphene application and identify the
graphene future compatibility in every application with human daily life.

1. Introduction
The average man is usually unaware that graphene is quite common that it might be on the surfaces of
their pencils lead. It is the simplest example to describe graphene which is the graphite layer on
surfaces drawn by pencil. Graphene is a single layer of carbon atom in the form of repeating hexagons
which is also considered two dimensional [1]. It is commonly found in pencils. Graphene is used to
described the graphite layers which contain compounds between them. Besides that, it is the thinnest
material in the world for future applications. Studies on graphene started during early 1947 and the
word graphene was first mentioned in 1987 [2].

Carbon is the most adjustable element and can be made into soft graphite (i.e Pencil leads) or diamonds
depending on the molecular arrangements. As graphene comes from carbon, it inherits the properties
of carbon especially its durability. No scientists were able to isolate carbon in a single layer form, not
until early 2000, therefore the usage was limited to rolled up of graphene in carbon nanotubes [1].
Although scientists are fascinated by the properties and the potential future applications, the discovery
and extraction of graphene was only found in 2004 by two Russian migr scientists, Professor Kostva
Novoselov and Professor Andre Geim from The University of Manchester. They found the method of
isolating graphene through sticky tape. By removing some flakes from bulk graphite using the stick
tape, and realizing some flakes were thinner than others, they managed to create flakes which were
just one atom thick, graphene [3].
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From the graphene discovery, Novoselov and Geim remarked that graphene is composed of layers of
carbon by one atom thick in a lattice structure. Mono layer graphene was tested under the microscope
to discover the extraction and explore the unusual electronic properties of graphene. From the result,
graphene is extremely stronger such that 207 times than steel [4], lightweight, nearly transparent and
almost-perfect conductor of electricity.

Through the ground breaking experiments on two-dimensional material graphene, graphene acquired
extraordinary set of properties and has potential across many applications. The market booming on
graphene is huge as the analysts projected in 2026, graphene market will reach nearly $200m at the
material level covering up to more than 17 specific application sectors [5].

2. STRUCTURE OF GRAPHENE
The atomic number of Carbon is six, therefore it has four valence electrons at the outermost shell. The
electronic structure of an isolated Carbon atom is (1s)2(2s)2(2p)4.
Wave functions for carbon

Where e (2s) is the (2s) wave function for carbon and e (i2p) are the (2p) wave functions of which
axes are in the directions i joining the graphite atom to its three neighbours in the plane. The fourth
electron is in the 2pz state. Its nodal plane is the lattice plane and its axis of symmetry perpendicular
to it [6].

Three electrons form covalent bonds with neighbouring atoms in the plane and do not take part in the
conductivity. Hence, graphene can be considered to have one conduction electron in the 2p z state.

Figure 2-1 Graphene from Carbon atom

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Graphene is a mono atom layer allotrope of carbon shown in figure 2-2 resembling the honeycomb
lattice of carbon atom [7]. Two-dimensional graphene was obtained in liquid suspension and also be
obtained on top of non-crystalline substrates. It is made out of two interpenetrating triangular lattices
such in figure 2-2 below.

Figure 2-2 Graphene Lattice

a1 and a2 are the lattice unit vectors and i are the nearest neighbour vectors.
Electrons and holes are known as Dirac fermions and the six corners of the Brillouin zone are known
as the Dirac points. The first Brillouin zone of graphene has 2N electron states and the second zone is
empty.
It is a lattice which also have a great entrance in the honeycomb structure which has two dimensional
Dirac-like excitations [7] and exhibits the Dirac-like spectrum of free-standing graphene shown in
figure below. Dirac-like equations described that electron waves propagating through a honeycomb
lattice completely lose their effective mass. Due to the composition, it is little doping and exceptionally
high electronic quality ( ~250,000 cm2 /Vs at room T) [8].

3. PROPERTIES OF GRAPHENE
It manifests high crystal quality whereby charge carriers be able to travel thousands of interatomic
distances and still intact [6] and electronic quality led to the emergence of relativistic condensed matter
physics. Graphene is also extremely strong and light. Graphene properties can be further discussed
into electronic, mechanical and optical properties.

3.1. Electronic Properties


Graphene is famous due to its electronic properties. It is truly unique and different from other material
because of its Sp2 hybridization and very thin atomic thickness of 0.345x10 -9m [9]. Graphene is a zerooverlap semimetal, with holes and electrons as charge carriers meet at Dirac points, hence it is a very
high electrical conductivity [9]. One electron freely moving in the third dimension for electronic
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conduction. These highly mobile electrons are called pi electrons positioned above and below the
graphene sheets. Pi orbitals overlap and strengthen the bonds which contributed to the electronic
properties of graphene.
The properties of graphene are also associated to Dirac fermions results from graphenes electronic
spectrum [8]. From Dirac-like equation, the electron waves propagating through honeycomb lattice
which the then lose the effective mass. Graphene is sensitive to the proximity of other materials such
as dielectrics, superconductors, and ferromagnetic because of one atom layer physical. Its electrons
can cover the submicron distance without scattering at room temperature. Due to properties mentioned,
graphene is generally robust even it is placed in room temperature.

3.2. Mechanical Properties


The carbon bond length in graphene is 0.142x10-9m. The brittle fracture of graphene occurs at a critical
stress equal to its intrinsic strengths of int = 130 GPa and it is the highest value ever recorded for real
materials [10] higher than steel. It is clear that graphene is the strongest material ever discovered
compared to the structural of steel. The experimental data conducted on graphene produced large
values of Young Modulus (E= 1 TPa), where Young Modulus measures the resistance of a material to
recover deformation under load. Since Graphene has a high Young Modulus, it is a stiff material and
changes its shape only slightly under elastic loads. This make graphene very attractive for structural
and at the same time can be easily bend. Graphene is also famous for being very light at 0.77milligrams
per square metre.

3.3. Optical Properties


Optical properties are analysed from the graphene monolayer and multilayers. Si/SiO2 substrate act as
spacer on top of graphene layers. The contrast can be maximized by adjusting the wavelength of spacer.
Graphene can only reflect <0.1% of the incident light in the visible region and ten layers of graphene
will reflect approximately 2% [11]. Graphene is nearly transparent to light, not only to visible light but
also to other forms of electromagnetic radiation. Therefore, the optical absorption of graphene layers
is proportional to the number of layers absorbing the visible spectrum.
4. APPLICATION
Since its first discovery and development at the University of Manchester, graphene has made a great
remark of being the most promising to the next future material. It revolutionise all fields including
medical, electronics and aircraft manufacture. The progress has been extremely productive, whereby
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countries such as United Kingdom, Russia and China are participating actively in discovering the
properties to be used for the revolution in industries.

4.1. In Medical Field


Antibacterial properties occur in some material such as silver nanoparticles. It synthesized the bacteria
by microwave irradiation [12] and comparable to antibacterial drug ampicillin. In 2011, China
conducted a research on graphene and discovered antibacterial properties, where it is Cytotoxicity (it
has the quality of being toxic to bacteria). An experiment using rat models conducted whereby
preparing water soluble of Ag@reduced graphene oxide (Ag@rGO) nanocomposites, and exposed to
injured rat skin after toxins exposure, no oedema or erythema appeared.

Under the microscope observation, the transmission shows molecular dynamics simulations of
graphene particles. Using Graphene nanosheets, it is able to penetrate into and extract large amounts
of phospholipids from the cell membranes. This is due to the strong dispersion interactions between
lipid and graphene molecules [13]. Due to the demonstration of cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity,
therefore, it is effective at killing E Coli bacteria and lead to the innovation of hygiene products.
4.2. In Aviation World
Lightweight and stronger than steel, made the carbon-based material fit the greatest material for
aircraft. University of Technology Sydney Lead researcher Ali Reza Ranjbartoreh claimed that
graphene paper would be an ideal material for the development stronger and more fuel-efficient
aircraft. Aside from making the aircraft lighter, another additional innovation is to replace the tangle
of conventional wiring that is used within an aircraft for electrical conductivity. This resulting in
further weight reductions [14]. Boeing has invested in the graphene materials in aircrafts where it is
comprising up to 50% of the primary structure of 787 Dreamliner Aircraft.

Aside that, researchers from NASA Kennedy Space Center are developing graphene-based ultra-light
batteries for aircraft to replace the standard lithium-based storage cells. Aircraft use batteries than
capacitors due to their need for high energy density. Lithium are generally large capacitance batteries
however suffers from their low power density [15].

The graphene-based ultra-capacitors are able to retain high power densities able to compete with the
best performing thin-film ion batteries. The charge will be stored on graphene sheets and take
advantage of the large accessible surface area of graphene, further increase the electrical energy that
can be stored [15].
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4.3. In Smart-phone technology


Graphene has the optical properties which lead to the transparency and able to conduct electricity at
the same time, made it as a material that can revolutionize the smartphone industry by replacing the
current touchscreen technology. Currently, indium tin oxide is being used in tablets and smartphones.
It is expensive and inflexible.

Through the discovery of graphene properties, has the thickness of one atom and also flexible, the next
big thing in smartphone technology is the bendable communication devices [16]. Touchscreens made
with graphene are able to transmit more lights than conventional one.

Other than that, the frustration of most phones and tablets owners for the current battery life problem
has come to end. A company in China found solution by utilizing Graphene. Using graphene-based
batteries raises the charge density by 10 percent and extends the battery life by 50 percent [17].

5. Conclusion
Graphene can be revolutionary in various fields. It is a rapidly rising star on the materials science and
technology innovation. It has the potential to increasing the power storage, effective cancer treatment
and even space exploration. Graphene is now part of human evolutionary as numerous researchers are
conducting experiments for the greater innovations. Big companies started investing in the mass
productions of graphene, soon it will be in daily life of human kind.
It is not harmful as certain material could be to human. Due to the antibacterial properties, scientists
even begin to imagine inventing graphene based drinkware that could detect bacteria for hygienic
purposes. The growing market in wearable technology devices such as smartwatches has taken
advantages on the innovation of using graphene. Consumers are predicted to wear flexible wearable
technology at affordable and realistic price. In this case, thanks to the abundancy of carbon(graphene),
the manufacturing will be cheaper.
Yet, the discovering of Graphene to near perfect usefulness has limitations. It has a bandgap issue
whereby most applications in electronics requires small bandgap. Without the ability of easily switch
between on and off current flow, the energy contained in photon is not enough to activate a graphene
transistor. It would be difficult for graphene to be an alternative to transistor in standard digital
computing. Aside that, the bandgap issues also induced in graphenes low electrical resistance.

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Nonetheless, the recent innovations based on graphene is promising to the future technology. It has
inspired a new generation of two dimensional materials science and incredibility important in shaping
the face of modern technology.

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References

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[17] A. Wan, "South China Morning Post," SCMP, 5 March 2015. [Online]. Available:
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