Wild! I had not heard of graphene before today, but I’m intrigued…
Desalination might sound boring, but it’s super important. Around 97% of the planet’s water is saltwater and therefore unpotable, and while you can remove the salt from the water, the current methods of doing so are laborious and expensive. Graphene stands to change all that by essentially serving as the world’s most awesomely efficient filter. If you can increase the efficiency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude (that is to say, make it 100 to 1,000 times more efficient) desalination suddenly becomes way more attractive as a way to obtain drinking water.
Desalination works exactly as you might expect; you run water through a filter with pores small enough to block the salt and not the water. It’s a process called reverse osmosis. The issue is that the thicker your filter is, the less efficient the process is going to be. If you know anything about graphene, you know where this is going. Graphene sheets are one atom thick. It’s sort of a best case scenario. Because it’s nanoporous and so insanely thin, it can let water (but not salt) through it without requiring the comparatively high levels of pressure that current filters do.
(click here to continue reading Graphene Improves Desalination Efficiency by Factor of 100 | Geekosystem.)
Graphene is basically carbon:
Graphene is a form of carbon in which the atoms are arranged in a flat hexagon lattice like microscopic chicken wire, a single atom thick. It is not only the thinnest material in the world, but also one of the strongest and hardest.
Among its other properties, graphene is able to conduct electricity as well as copper does and to conduct heat better than any other known material, and it is practically transparent. Physicists say that it could eventually rival silicon as a basis for computer chips, serve as a sensitive pollution-monitoring material, improve flat-screen televisions, and enable the creation of new materials and novel tests of quantum weirdness.
In a statement, the Royal Academy said, “Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth, has surprised us once again.”
Graphene is closely related to two other forms of carbon that have generated intense interest in recent years: buckyballs, which are soccer-ball arrangements of carbon atoms, and nanotubes, which are rolled-up sheets of carbon atoms. It was long thought, however, that an essentially two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms would be unstable and would warp or fold up. Dr. Geim and Dr. Novoselov first succeeded in creating flakes of graphene by peeling them off piles of graphite — the material that is in a pencil lead — using Scotch tape.
(click here to continue reading Physics Nobel Honors Work on Ultra-Thin Carbon – NYTimes.com.)