Magnets have more technological applications beyond keeping art on your fridge and magnetics for tech need upgrading. Image Source: Flickr User sarnil

Magnets, superconductors and semiconductors are a part of everyday life. They are contained within electronics and are a crucial component of technology. Over the past couple of decades, a lot of groundbreaking research has been conducted on graphene, a material that contains all three properties. Scientists discuss a recent discovery wherein they’ve used three layers of graphene to create a new kind of magnet.1 While they are still investigating the properties and implications of this paradigm-shifting material, drawing parallels between different experiments will benefit from recent advances in laboratory software.

The Many Faces of Graphene

Theories revolving around graphene occurred prior to its initial observation in 1962 and continue to swarm as new research is delivered. In 2010 it was the subject of the Nobel prize in physics and was described as “the perfect atomic lattice.”2 It is one of the strongest, most flexible and most lightweight materials discovered to date, and there are a substantial number of papers published annually on its new functions and further refinement. A few of the properties and potentials initially listed in 2010 include:

  • Conductance. This is an area of great interest as researchers near a speed and capacity plateau with silicon. Silicon, a semiconducting substance that’s used in electronics across the board, ceases to function beyond certain size boundaries. Graphene components can be packed far more tightly while still functioning optimally. Using innovative lab software, this discovery could be used to reduce the size of a number of devices, increasing capacity while limiting the potential to reduce waste heat from electronic components. In the Nobel prize release, they even postulated about a future with graphene computers, but this is still a distant dream.
  • Transparence. Graphene has always existed, but due to it’s small scale and transparence researchers couldn’t confirm it’s existence for a long time. This previously problematic transparence is something that could come in handy in the digital age, given current reliance on touch screens, such as a prototype phone that was unveiled last year.3 It can be used on its own (albeit expensively) or in conjunction with plastics to conduct electricity for touch screens, light panels and perhaps solar cells.
  • Heat Capacity. Graphene has rather incredible thermal properties that appear to be tunable.4 In other words, it is possible to mix plastic with a minute amount of graphene to substantially increase its heat resistance. Innovative lab software will help researchers continue to investigate the thermal properties of this 2D carbon material to assess further implications in items both everyday and extraordinary.
  • Flexibility. The company who created the graphene touch screen also developed a graphene phone that fit around the wrist. This flexibility, specifically in a display, was originally demonstrated by researchers at the University of Cambridge Graphene centre in conjunction with Plastic Logic.5 As researcher continue to bend and blur lines of traditional electronics, tracking and assessing coordinating materials and specific flexibility capacities when used in tandem will be best done with modern lab software.

Making the Most of Graphene’s Many Properties

This is a technology that is very much in it’s infancy and is a fantastic and novel concept; there is still magnetism close to absolute zero which is a property that is previously unobserved. There are a number of steps between present data and where the investigators wish to go; it will involve conducting a wide variety of experiments and looking at emerging properties.

With the advent of innovative lab software, researchers are able to better track and record these findings. As opposed to relying on many separate software programs to adequately analyze the numerous features of graphene, a single comprehensive solution will allow for recording and data scrutiny during the research process.

BIOVIA Electronic Laboratory Notebooks can assist researchers in reducing time spent looking for data by 50%, reduce repeat experiments by 25% and improve productivity by 25% while removing non-value added manual activities and errors. There is quite the breadth of properties to investigate and each of the data from each of these properties will look vastly different; let BIOVIA alleviate those concerns by housing it all in one space so that it can be more cohesively analyzed and experiments can be more efficiently planned. Please contact us today to learn more about how our software options can support the efforts of your lab.

  1. “Strong electronic interaction and multiple quantum Hall ferromagnetic phases in trilayer graphene,” February 20, 2017, http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14518#discussion
  2. “Graphene – the perfect atomic lattice,” May 15, 2009, https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2010/popular-physicsprize2010.pdf
  3. “What’s a graphene display and why it’s going to be in flexible smart devices from the future,” April 27, 2016, http://www.phonearena.com/news/Whats-a-graphene-display-and-why-its-going-to-be-in-flexible-smart-devices-from-the-future_id80562
  4. “Thermal properties of graphene: Fundamentals and applications,” December 2012, http://poplab.stanford.edu/pdfs/PopVarshneyRoy-GrapheneThermal-MRSbull12.pdf
  5. “First graphene-based flexible display produced,” September 5, 2014, http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/first-graphene-based-flexible-display-produced