Is borophene graphene’s first true competitor?

Is borophene graphene’s first true competitor?

At the bleeding edge of the tech wars, flexible atom-thick materials have been causing a stir among engineers since the late 1980s, when graphene was finally synthesized. Graphene is highly valued for its high conductivity, great flexibility and amazing strength. Research has shown great potential in printing graphene for paper-based electronic circuits, electronics applications, computer memory and improved vehicle batteries.

Around 100 times stronger than steel, graphene is almost transparent and a highly efficient conductor of both electricity and heat. However, because graphene is very rigid, there are hard limitations on flexible applications. Graphene can be difficult to stretch in other processes.

Beginning in 2014, researchers began to identify and finally to synthesize a new nanomaterial, borophene. An atom-thick sheet composed of 36 boron atoms in a triangular lattice, borophene forms hexagonal holes in the centers of the molecules. The result is a stronger, less expensive and lighter material with similar properties to graphene. Is there really any need for both nanomaterials?

Although graphene performs far better in touch screen designs than the currently standard indium-tin oxide, the big holdup is its sheer cost. A one-micron flake of graphene is currently valued at over 1,000 U.S. dollars. One of the most expensive substances on the planet, graphene is far too expensive to justify such a use in mass manufacturing.

Soon there were other nanomaterials with similar applications, including silicene, germanene, molybdenum disulfide, graphitic carbon-nitride and hexagonal boron-nitride, which led to the synthesization of borophene. Borophene’s properties are similar to those of graphene, but it’s much stronger, far more flexible and significantly lighter.

Borophene is the most flexible nanomaterial produced to date. Interestingly, the unique properties of boron at the molecular level mean that borophene actually becomes stronger when placed under strain, rather than shattering or cracking. Such properties offer the possibility of materials that are custom tuned to specific stress requirements.

With a higher electron density than graphene, supercooled borophene may be able to conduct electricity with no significant energy leakage. This could exponentially increase both the power and speed of computing electronics. Borophene might just make historic differences in computing power, with great promise for stabilizing quantum computer technology.

When borophene is accumulated on a silver surface from a vapor, it creates a rough surface with astounding levels of electron conduction along ridges in the surface. With directional structures like ridges that can be used as switches, borophene holds great promise for light polarization applications.

With exceedingly light weight, high strength and the ability to stretch while conducting electricity, wearable device technology would become far more practical, allowing embedded devices in clothing for life support reasons. Because boron has high chemical reactivity, sheets of borophene could easily be bonded to sheets of other nanomaterials to tune their properties for specific applications.

Graphene has created a market that has now reached over nine million dollars. Borophene is lighter, stronger, better conducting and possesses material properties that can’t be duplicated by graphene. Perhaps most important, borophene is far cheaper to manufacture than graphene, bringing some previously impossible ideas into the realm of likelihood. But borophene is not without its own disadvantages. With more research and time, it’s very likely that we’ll see both graphene and borophene fulfill a wide variety of roles in our society.

Can nanomaterials help create super-plants?

Can nanomaterials help create super-plants?

While science-fiction authors have long penned about hybrids between humans and machines, “super plants” that contain integrated nanomaterials might be much closer to science fact than cyborgs are. Today, scientists report that there are plants in development which can make nanomaterials; these are called metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs, and are applied as coatings on plants. These augmented plants might one day perform useful functions such as the sensing of chemicals or the more efficient harvesting of light.

Plants often endure blazing-hot long days to bear the vegetables and fruits their growers desire. The ultraviolet or UV rays of the sun can be intense; enough so to damage some crops. These plants might well thrive if they had a hand from some built-in sunscreen. A family of MOFs can absorb UV radiation that is harmful. Some MOFs can turn UV rays into other wavelengths, such as those that plants can utilize for photosynthesis.

A nano-engineer, Joseph Richardson, is working to lead a research team that seeks to make plants uptake the MOFs’ building blocks. Their goal is for plants to make their own MOFs. MOFs are too big to be taken up by plant roots. Cutting plants open to cram them full of nanoparticles would cause damage to the stems. So this team seeks another way. If these MOFs can capture UV rays that damage tissues, they might assist crops in surviving tougher climates still, both on Earth’s surface and out in space.

Richardson had a realization that the building blocks of MOFs are quite small; so small, in fact, that plant roots can drink them up. Now the building blocks must assemble within the plant and grow, on-site, to complete MOFs. The metal atoms and unique carbon compounds that comprise the building blocks were dissolved in water. Plant cuttings were then placed in this solution. It worked; these simple materials, absorbed by the plant, grew into fully-formed MOFs.

The scientists caused the MOFs in question to emit a green light that was intense when irradiated with the rays of UV light. This helped confirm that the plants were building MOFs. The entire plant fluoresced under the UV light. MOFs were formed in the stems, leaves, roots, and other plant parts.

Researchers are examining the protective qualities of the nanomaterials with promising preliminary data. The team tried coating clippings of lilyturf and chrysanthemum with luminescent MOFs; these were exposed to UVC light for several hours. After the three hours, compared with uncoated clippings, the MOF-ridden plants showed less bleaching and wilting.

MOF durability is a concern of C. Michael McGuirk. This materials chemist is worried that MOFs break down as time passes, losing their properties and unique structures. He mentions that this happens especially in water, which is a requirement of plant growth.

The next step is studying the MOFs’ effect on the growth of the plants they are taken up by. So far, toxicity has not been noticed in the nanomaterials. The MOFs may even someday help plants to grow better. This could lead to exciting new applications in agriculture. Hostile outposts, including space, may one day be fed by these MOF-embedded plants.

Graphene and resilient biotech

Graphene and resilient biotech

A team of researchers, chemists, and scientists recently created a new medical-grade biotech material that is being called a graphene hybrid. The material is made by combining standard graphene-based nanoparticles with hydroxyapatite (HAp). For anyone unfamiliar with hydroxyapatite, it is a ceramic derivative commonly used in medical and dental implants. Once graphene is combined with hydroxyapatite it forms to create a highly durable material that could potentially last longer than any biotech material currently on the market. The material is also completely non-toxic and it is safe for nearly all types of surgical applications, including open heart or brain surgery.

Problems With Non-Graphene Biotechnology

Over the last decade, the leading biotech implant material available is biometallic. Biometallic materials are commonly used in dental implants, stents, and even pacemakers. The downside to using biometallic materials is that in some cases it can corrode quite quickly, especially if it is heavily exposed to bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, or water. Once biometallic corrosion occurs it can leak particles into the surrounding tissues and into the bloodstream, causing inflammation, toxicity, and even death in high doses. Another major downside to biometallic materials is that they have a high thermal expansion rate which is known to cause nerve pain.

Ways Graphene Can Improve Biotechnology

It’s Non-Corrosive: One of the biggest benefits to using graphene in biotech materials is that it is non-corrosive, so there is zero risk of it ever causing toxicity, blood poisoning, or tissue inflammation. With zero risk of corroding, graphene can be used in medical applications where standard biometallic materials are prohibited. That means that graphene has a much broader application range. It could be used in artificial heart valves, dental implants, artery stents, and more.

It Has a Low Thermal Expansion Rate: Most biotech materials such as biometallic substances have an extremely high thermal expansion rate. What that means in layman’s terms is that biometallic materials will rapidly expand in size and temperature any time they are exposed to prolonged periods of high heat. Graphene, on the other hand, isn’t easily affected by hot temperatures that would be experienced within a human body. That means the risk of thermal expansion for graphene is very low.

Graphene is Non-Ferromagnetic: Some biometallic materials are ferromagnetic in their composition, meaning they create a magnetic reaction. Ferromagnetic materials used in biotech applications are less than ideal due to the fact that once these items are implanted into the body, the person receiving them cannot ever undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Graphene, on the other hand, is completely non-ferromagnetic, meaning it does not possess any magnetic quality.

It’s Cheaper to Produce: Another major advantage to using graphene materials in biotechnology is that it is substantially cheaper to produce than any other biotech material. In many cases, graphene is up to 100 times cheaper to produce. Biometallic materials, for example, are extremely expensive to produce due to the fact that the substances needed to make it require finite metallic resources. Graphene is like plastic in the sense that it does not rely on finite resources in order to be mass-produced.

It’s More Durable: Some early tests have found that graphene infused with hydroxyapatite creates an end material that could be up to 100 times stronger and more durable than the strongest non-graphene biotech materials currently on the market. What this implies is that the risk of a graphene biotech application malfunctioning is very low. It also indicates that most graphene-based biotech materials could be implanted into the human body for life, with no replacement ever needed.

Graphene as a water filter

Graphene as a water filter

One of the standout qualities of the well-known “wonder material” graphene is its potentially massive environmental impact. Of the different effects it is purported to have on the environment, an important one is its capacity for effective water filtration and desalination. Creating potable water has a number of benefits, ranging from medical, pharmacological, chemical, and industrial applications.

Graphene improves the water purification process as a membrane. The material is hydrophilic, meaning that it attracts water. So when microscopic holes are made in the material, it creates a membrane that allows water molecules to flow through, while blocking contaminants, gases, and solvents.

Scientists at the CSIRO, an Australian research center, recently utilized such a method to create a graphene water filter membrane. Conventional water filter membranes are made from polymers, which unfortunately means that they are unable to handle a diverse mix of contaminants. Because of its capabilities, thin-layer graphene can allow water to pass through microscopic channels in its surface. This kind of membrane is able to filter the liquid faster than conventional products and prevents the contaminants that are blocked from clogging the surface. 

Despite graphene’s improved abilities at keeping contaminants from clogging the membrane, a buildup can still occur. This is why researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have not just created a similarly functioning graphene water filter membrane, but have also enlisted the help of a “traitor” bacteria to form the membrane, and uses light to destroy the clumped contaminants near the surface of the filter. The scientists took the bacteria Gluconacetobacter hansenii and fed it a sugary substance, causing it to produce cellulose nanofibers. The researchers then added graphene oxide flakes, with add durability, stability, and ability to the newly-formed membrane, making it an effective water filter.

But Washington University scientists didn’t stop there — after filtration, they “reduced” the graphene oxide by removing the oxygen groups in the material. This causes it to become more reactive to light and absorbs it, which in turn heats up the membrane, killing the bacteria that created it, along with another of the other contaminants that have been caught in the membrane. The now-sterilized membrane is able to filter water twice as fast as existing membranes under high pressure.

The appeal of these new graphene water filters is that they are far more energy-efficient, lightweight, and environmentally friendly than existing filters, while also being more effective. Another important benefit of these newer graphene water filters is that water will not need chlorination to be purified. Typically, chlorine is used to destroy toxic materials in water, but with the pinpoint efficiency of graphene, such contaminants can be taken care of in other ways. 

Graphene’s application spans a seemingly endless amount of technology areas, and looks to not only significantly advance our capabilities, but provide environmental and health benefits for the whole world. With graphene water filters, it can become possible to further the mission of providing everyone with clean drinking water in cost-efficient and functionally effective ways.

Graphene robots

Graphene robots

While our initial conception of robots typically involves humanistic features, advancements in nanotechnology are showing us that robots can take all kinds of forms. This includes microscopic machines that have the potential to positively impact fields like healthcare and medicine, where they can help us get a closer look at the way the human anatomy works and solve a wide variety of medical issues.

At MIT, engineers have managed to create nanotech that can do just that. But the miniscule robots, which range from 10 micrometers across (the size of a red blood cell) to 10 times that size, need the strength to withstand the conditions within cells and the body, particularly for the water that electronics will be constantly exposed to. That’s where graphene comes in.

Previous iterations of the experimental robots were assembled individually. Graphene helped the researchers come up with a more efficient manufacturing process called “autoperforation.” For this particular device, graphene is used as a protective shell that will allow these microscopic robots to withstand the conditions within cells and the body.

To initially construct the robot, the electronics are encased in a polymer material that then form tiny semiconductor dots, which are laid on top a layer of graphene. Another layer of graphene is placed over the dots, and as it drapes over the devices, lines of strain begin to appear. The MIT scientists compared this reaction to that of a tablecloth on the surface of a circular table — eventually, it would create an indent around the microscopic robots.

This is when graphene starts to show off its capabilities. After everything is in place, the graphene is stressed to the point of fracture. But instead of randomly breaking off like other materials might, graphene breaks at the strain points of each electronic dot, and the edges of the two outer graphene layers stick together, creating fully-covered “syncells,” as the MIT engineers dubbed them. Graphene is highly durable and exhibits water-resistant traits, meaning that the casing for the electronic nano-robot will keep it working in harsh conditions.

According to Professor Michael Strano, the syncells “start to look and behave like a living biological cell. In fact, under a microscope, you could probably convince most people that it is a cell.”

In addition, the discovery of graphene’s controlled fracturing means that these robots could viably be mass produced. As syncell development continues and it becomes more complex and capable, graphene will be there to help create these machines at a large scale.

The use of graphene in creating microscopic robots to monitor and eventually correct health issues opens up a whole new realm of possibility for nanotechnology. In addition to its durability, graphene is a great conductor of electricity and heat, meaning that it could provide not only protection for robotics and nanotechnology, but would also enhance their their technological capabilities. With graphene, we could begin to see a revolution in robotics, particular regarding nanotechnology for healthcare and medical needs.

Graphene and tissue engineering

Graphene and tissue engineering

The breakthrough medical technology of organ transplants on the human body is nothing short of miraculous and has saved and improved countless lives — but not without a price. The transplant process is messy and prolonged: the patient must wait for a matching organ to become available, then wait for it to be transported, and undergo a complicated and risky surgery, only to simply hope that their body doesn’t reject it. How can this process be improved?

The answer may be in the material called graphene, discovered in 2004 by two researchers at the University of Manchester. Some of graphene’s properties include a large surface area, high electrical and thermal conductivity, unmatched strength, ability to combine with other substances, ease in mass production, and flexibility. These characteristics and many more make it an ideal pairing with stem cells used in tissue regeneration, specifically for organs.

Graphene’s discovery showed that it has excellent physicochemical properties and a unique two-dimensional planar structure. Therefore, when used in stem cells, graphene oxide functions as scaffolding for their buildup. This ability earned it a label of the “next generation” of nanomaterials for stem cell control. Stem cells have shown to grow faster and better with the help of graphene-based nanomaterials. Therefore, using graphene could be just what organ cells need to reproduce more efficiently.

Stem cells can help various bodily tissues repair themselves. The use of graphene in stem cell regeneration could bypass many of the current requirements for organ transplants. Therefore, using graphene to regenerate tissue can be the golden ticket for improved organ replacements without another person dying. The question is, how can this be done sooner rather than later?

Though the discovery of graphene in tissue engineering has enormous potential, there is a long road before it is mainstream. A primary example is the use of 3D printers for graphene tissue cells. 3D printers have entered the market and are already helping advance medical research. However, using them to print organ cells has downfalls yet to be solved. Organ cells from 3D printers tend to die sooner due to lack of nutrients to the center of the organ and its cells. Other challenges to graphene’s regular use include safety regulations and costs.

The road is long before graphene completely transforms modern tissue engineering, but there are daily advances that ensure its future success. 3D printers can now produce blood vessels, which helps solve the problem of nutrient delivery to outermost parts of the organ. As a result, the organ lives longer. It’s already being used in biological cases such as gene and drug deliveries and cancer therapy.  

When researchers find the perfect mixture of stem cells and graphene production, the field of regenerative medicine can leap forward. Its potential is unlimited to save and improve lives for those with organ transplants. That’s just the beginning of how graphene can elevate modern medicine, and the world at large.

Graphene can put the G in 5G

Graphene can put the G in 5G

Telecommunications is a rapidly advancing technology. Keeping it up to speed, literally and figuratively, requires enormous resources and time. What if there were a way to expedite the process? Soon, this may be a reality, thanks to graphene.

The wonder material was officially discovered in 2004 by two researchers at the University of Manchester, which won them a Nobel prize. The material is formed of a single layer of carbon atoms in a hexagon shape. It is stronger than steel and thinner than a human hair, giving it superpower qualities that could replace many materials we currently use in daily life. It has already begun to impact farming, photodetection, water purification, solar panels, medical diagnostics, and more. For telecommunications, graphene may be able to replace the fiber-optic cable, speeding up communications and making them more reliable in the long term. How can this be done? By combining graphene with 5G.

5G performance has the capability for extremely high amounts of data, speed, and connectivity across devices. All the while, it reduces energy use, costs, and delays. Since the introduction of the mobile phone, there have been many iterations of performance systems. 2G, 3G, and 4G were once revolutionary for wireless communication. Now, 5G is changing the game altogether. 5G can be put to use in everything from virtual and augmented reality for live broadcasting, automotive advancements, manufacturing, healthcare, artificial intelligence, and smart cities, to name a few.

Communications of the future may be faster and easier than ever, as long as 5G works seamlessly, and graphene in its monolayer form can give 5G what it needs. Research is underway to see how graphene’s high conductivity and flexible monolayer can support the development of 5G wireless technology.

In 2017, a team at Sweden’s Chalmers University made a breakthrough in this research. When they combined terahertz detection with flexible graphene, a 5G mobile device controlled the Internet of Things (IoT). With progress like this, the future of electronic and optoelectronic technologies is bright thanks to the combination of graphene and 5G.

It is no wonder that mobile companies are perking up at the prospect of combining graphene with 5G. It can speed up their transmission of data much more efficiently than silicon. At some point, if things keep going in the direction they are, graphene will be cheaper than silicon too.

While the promise of graphene and 5G is heartening, there is a long way to go before it is mainstream in the manufacturing world. Graphene’s newness in the technology world makes more testing a necessity. Industry leaders are skeptical as to when it will make its official debut, but the need for 5G makes graphene’s potential more exciting than ever. With the right resources and work, it’s only a matter of time before we can benefit from graphene’s incorporation into 5G.

Do we need graphene caulking? The answer might surprise you.

Do we need graphene caulking? The answer might surprise you.

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate so it’s no surprise that electronic devices like computers and cell phones are expected to evolve beyond our wildest dreams in the coming years. The recent discovery and subsequent research on graphene, a single layer of graphite that is extremely thin and incredibly durable, is expected to make a significant impact on tech items in the very near future. What’s surprising, however, is that it is also expected to impact a wide variety of other materials across various industries and applications. Incorporating graphene into home improvement and building materials, like caulk, could drastically improve their performance.

Caulk is typically composed in compound form with a single, active ingredient. The most common types are made of silicone, polyurethane, or latex. Each of these materials has a redeeming property that is ideally suited for standard caulk applications. Silicone is flexible, polyurethane is effective throughout a diverse temperature range, and latex is remarkably easy to work with when wet. Graphene has the potential to strengthen these positive properties when used in conjunction with the original material, but it also possesses many of them on its own.

One of the primary functions of caulk is to prevent the permeation of substances. It essentially acts as a barrier, keeping liquids out of places that should remain dry. Research published in the 2012 issue of Environmental Science & Technology showed that graphene oxide proved an effective barrier for both liquid and gas permeants. The substance maintains its flexibility while markedly improving the strength and impermeability of various environmental barriers already in existence. When added to silicone rubber, for example, graphene nanoplatelets were able to maintain the strength, impermeability, and flexibility of the compound in temperatures up to 250 degrees Celcius.

Another caulk-conducive property of graphene is its exceptional absorption of UV light in certain forms. Because caulk is often used to seal areas that are vulnerable to sunlight, it makes sense to combine it with a material that helps to maintain stability during UV exposure. Thermally exfoliated graphite oxides, a specific type of graphene, has been shown to not only absorb UV light but also protect from UV radiation. The additional stability could lengthen the lifespan of caulk in outdoor applications.

As if strength, flexibility, impermeability, and an impressive level of UV light absorption wasn’t enough, some studies report that graphene is able to seal holes…in itself. Graphene is a single sheet layer of graphite, which is an allotrope of Carbon. This means that graphene is basically a sheet layer of carbon molecules one-layer thick. When the sheet is ruptured — a difficult feat given graphene’s immense strength — the undamaged molecules latch on to any carbon atoms nearby, thus restoring the sheet to its original state. If researchers can find a way to incorporate this particular graphene quality into the caulk compounds, the resulting seals would be something akin to a super barrier!

While the idea of a super caulk is appealing, much of the material applications research for graphene is still in progress. Graphene has all the right properties to create a superior caulk, it’s now up to researchers to incorporate those properties into a caulking compound that works.

Want your computer to be more durable and flexible? Graphene can help.

Want your computer to be more durable and flexible? Graphene can help.

Computers have come a long way since being introduced in the 1940s. The very first computer took up about 1,800 square feet and weighed nearly 50 tons. Now, they are small enough to take anywhere and with even more capabilities. They’ve expanded into phones, tablets, and other electronic devices that we rely on for daily life.

Electronic devices with flexible displays for healthcare, driving, and other everyday uses are becoming more and more in demand. It is challenging to have those devices also be transparent, stretchable, and lightweight while keeping their thermal, environmental, and mechanical capabilities the same. Lighter and more flexible computers often sacrifice durability. Likewise, stronger ones sacrifice portability. Combining both into one perfect device is yet to be done.

The solution may lie in graphene. This relatively new material was discovered in 2004, won its discoverers a Nobel Prize in 2010, and is now beginning to change the world. Graphene is made from carbon and forms a hexagonal shape, making it thinner than a human hair but stronger than steel. More qualities make it a frontrunner in replacing other substances in daily life like plastic, certain types of metal, and many construction materials.

Graphene’s conductivity makes it a prime contender for building electronic devices. Graphene is capable of 10 times more heat than copper, and can conduct 250 times more electricity than silicon. If graphene replaced silicon in computers, the processors would use less power and run about 1,000 times faster. On top of that, graphene is over 200 times stronger than steel — meaning that if you drop a graphene-made laptop, it will remain virtually untouched. The material has also exhibited water resistant traits, meaning that a graphene-based electronic device would also be protected from the elements.

Flexibility is another of graphene’s advantages when used for creating computers. South Korean scientists at Yonsei University demonstrated an “entangled graphene mesh network” (EGMN) that is highly stretchable and stable under harsh conditions. Graphene is placed on a copper base, chemical vapor deposition is used to immerse it into an etchant solution. Then, small holes form, allowing it to crumble, wrinkle and bend. To further graphene’s stretching capabilities, the solution’s EGMNs get transferred into materials like polyimide, stretchable latex, and silicon dioxide. The final substance is bendable and able to be applied to engineering various forms of technology.

Though graphene has tremendous capabilities for the digital world, it has obstacles to overcome before being accepted into mainstream society. Graphene’s high electric conductivity is both its greatest strength and weakness, and its lack of band gap means it cannot control the flow of electricity to its processors. Before graphene can address issues of durability and flexibility, we will need to find solutions for its various weaknesses.

Despite setbacks, developments in graphene are making strides every day. Researchers at the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology have developed a graphene-like substance with silicon’s band gap, bringing graphene closer to being used in electronic products. The computer’s journey over the past century is impressive. With graphene’s help, it is sure to make more strides beyond our wildest imagination. Watch closely for graphene to transform how we use technology in the years to come.

Move over Kevlar. Graphene is the future of body armor.

Move over Kevlar. Graphene is the future of body armor.

When it comes to protection, Kevlar has long been the standard for body armor. The heat-resistant synthetic fiber was discovered in 1965, and it’s high tensile strength-to-weight ratio makes it five times stronger than steel. It has many uses, but its most well-known application is in body armor, where it has been essential in bulletproofing soldiers, law enforcement, and others in security-based professions. And yet, Kevlar is only a stepping stone compared to the capabilities offered by graphene, which could take body armor to new level of protectiveness.

Graphene’s major advantage over Kevlar is that it is 200 times stronger than steel, a substantial increase in strength over the popular body armor material. Not only that, but it is lightweight: graphene is made up of a single layer of carbon atoms formed together in a honeycomb lattice-like formation. The single layer means that graphene is one of the thinnest materials in the world. Graphene is not only strong, but its thin and flexible, making it much more versatile than Kevlar.

Researchers have not let graphene’s protective capabilities go unnoticed. Experiments at the City University of New York demonstrated a taste of how graphene can revolutionize body protection. They created a diamene (two layer) graphene foil that was so strong even a diamond tip was unable to perforate the material. Two atomic layers of graphene is still thousands of times thinner than even a single hair, but features such protective strength. This new form of graphene could act as flexible protective coatings to be placed on top of body armor, further increasing its strength. Interestingly, the experiments discovered that this ultra-hardening effect only occurs when two layers of graphene are used, and extra layers are shown to lessen the material’s effectiveness. Nevertheless, the defensive capabilities of the two layer graphene coating is remarkable.

In other experiments, there are some who are also attempting to improve body armor by combining graphene with other materials in order to utilize its capabilities. Graphene’s full potential is difficult to bring out on its own. As a result, scientists have found a way around this by creating graphene composites that give us access to aspects of graphene’s properties. A research team at Imperial College created a company, Synbiosys, to test compositing graphene with silk to create an extremely lightweight, flexible and extremely strong material that can be used in body armor. Their tests have shown great promise: they have begun to successfully create the composite material and continue to develop prototypes for real-life application.

Graphene is a tricky material. For one thing, it is extremely difficult to mass produce, making it hard to foresee the widespread use of graphene in body armor. In addition, we have yet to unlock all of the material’s secrets. For instance, why does graphene get weaker when adding more layers? Before graphene can change body armor and other other products for the better, it has a number of challenges to overcome.

But scientists and researchers have already begun to see the fruits of their hard work begin to pay off, and we are continually making advancements in graphene use. The diamene graphene foil, graphene and silk composite, and the numerous recent achievements in graphene research prove that we are not far off from a graphene-based world. For body armor, this represents greater safety and comfort for those who face danger in the line of duty, a worthy advancement for humankind.