What is graphene?
Graphene is a form of carbon consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice.
Graphite, the most common form of carbon, is basically a stack of graphene layers held together with weak bonds. Fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, two other forms of carbon, have structures similar to that of graphene; which can also be viewed as a fullerene or nanotube of infinitely large size.
Why is it considered useful?
Graphene has many uncommon properties. It is the strongest material ever tested, conducts heat and electricity efficiently, and is nearly transparent, yet surprisingly opaque for a 1-atom-thick layer.
It had been produced unintentionally in small quantities for centuries through the use of pencils and other similar graphite applications.
What was the recent breakthrough?
Researchers have achieved a major turning point in the quest for efficient desalination by announcing the invention of a graphene-oxide membrane that sieves salt right out of seawater. At this stage, the technique is still limited to the lab, but it's a demonstration of how we could one day quickly and easily turn one of our most abundant resources, seawater, into one of our most scarce - clean drinking water. Graphene-oxide membranes have long been considered a promising candidate for filtration and desalination, but although many teams have developed membranes that could sieve large particles out of water, getting rid of salt requires even smaller sieves that scientists have struggled to create.
Mention some applications of graphene
Graphene being a transparent and flexible conductor that holds promise for various material/device applications, including solar cells, light-emitting diodes (LED), touch panels and smart windows or phones. Graphene has also been used in other fundamental electronic devices, such as capacitors and Field Effect Transistors (FETs), in which it can act as an atomically thin channel. In the same framework, fluorine-doped graphene has shown to have insulating properties and it can lead to a substantial increase in carrier mobility. Other early commercial uses of graphene include fillers such as a graphene-infused printer powder