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Harnessing the Potential of Graphene

  Apr 16, 2023

Harnessing the Potential of Graphene

Q Why is it in News ?

A In the realm of technological advancements, certain breakthroughs possess the power to revolutionize entire industries. Artificial Intelligence (AI) for software, quantum computing for computers, and graphene for materials are such game-changers. While India has made commendable progress in AI and shows promise in quantum computing, it is crucial for the country to catch up in the domain of graphene.


Q What is Graphene?

  • Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice pattern. It is a two-dimensional material that is incredibly thin, strong, and lightweight. In fact, it is the thinnest material known to date, with a thickness of just one atom.
  • Despite its thinness, graphene is remarkably strong, around 200 times stronger than steel, yet incredibly flexible.


Q Why Graphene is known as The Wonder Material?

  • Exceptional Strength: Despite being only one atom thick, graphene is incredibly strong. It is approximately 200 times stronger than steel, yet it is incredibly flexible. This combination of strength and flexibility makes it highly desirable for applications where strength and durability are crucial.
  • Superb Electrical Conductivity: Graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity, even surpassing traditional conductors like copper. It allows the flow of electrons with minimal resistance, making it ideal for developing high-performance electronics and electrical devices.
  • High Thermal Conductivity: Along with its electrical conductivity, graphene also exhibits excellent thermal conductivity. It can efficiently transfer heat, making it valuable for applications requiring efficient heat management, such as in electronics, thermal management systems, and energy storage devices.
  • Transparency: Graphene is nearly transparent and can absorb only 2% of light passing through it. This property makes it an intriguing material for optoelectronic devices, transparent conductive films, and touchscreens, as it enables the transmission of light while maintaining conductivity.
  • Impermeability to Gases: Graphene is impermeable to gases, even those as small as hydrogen and helium. This property opens up possibilities for applications in gas separation, filtration, and storage, as well as creating barriers against moisture or gas permeation in various industries.
  • Versatility and Composite Formation: Graphene can be combined with other materials to create composite materials with enhanced properties. Even in small quantities, graphene can significantly improve the strength, conductivity, and other characteristics of composite materials. This versatility expands its potential applications in fields such as aerospace, automotive, construction, and sports equipment.
  • Wide Range of Applications: Graphene has the potential to revolutionize numerous industries and sectors. It can be used in energy storage devices like batteries and supercapacitors, for developing sensors, inks, membranes for water purification, and in healthcare for drug delivery systems and biosensors. Its applications also extend to areas such as defense and aerospace, where its exceptional strength, conductivity, and sensitivity to environmental changes offer unique advantages.


Q What is status of Global Graphene Landscape ?

  • China: China declared graphene a priority in its 13th Plan. China has emerged as a global leader in the production and commercialization of graphene. China’s emphasis on graphene is evident from its graphene-related patent filings, which have surpassed those of other leading nations in recent years.
  • United States: The United States has a strong presence in the graphene landscape, with active research and development initiatives. Several universities, research institutions, and companies in the U.S. are at the forefront of graphene research, exploring its potential applications and commercialization prospects. The country has a considerable number of graphene-related patents and is home to leading graphene companies and startups.
  • United Kingdom: The UK has been a pioneer in graphene research since its discovery. The University of Manchester, where graphene was first isolated, remains a hub for graphene research and innovation. The UK government has invested in the National Graphene Institute and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre to support research and development in graphene applications.
  • South Korea: South Korea has active research programs, industry collaborations, and graphene-related patent filings. South Korean companies are involved in graphene production, commercialization, and application development across various sectors.
  • Japan: Japan has a significant presence in graphene research and commercialization. Japanese universities and research institutions have made notable contributions to the field. The country has a strong focus on developing graphene-based technologies in areas such as electronics, energy storage, and composite materials. Japanese companies are actively involved in graphene production and application development.
  • Russia: Russia has a growing presence in the graphene landscape, with notable research activities and patents in the field. Russian universities and research institutes are engaged in graphene research, and the country has witnessed the establishment of graphene-focused companies.
  • Singapore: Singapore has invested in graphene research and development, aiming to position itself as a regional hub for graphene-related technologies. The country has established research institutes and centers focused on graphene and has attracted collaborations with international partners.


Q How is India’s progress in the graphene sector ?

  • Research and Academic Contributions: The Centre for Nano Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, in collaboration with KAS Tech, has been actively involved in graphene research and development.
  • Start-ups and Industry Initiatives: Several start-ups and foreign subsidiaries have emerged in India, focusing on graphene or graphene derivatives. Notably, Tata Steel has achieved success in growing graphene using annealing and extracting atomic carbon from steel surfaces. They have also explored the use of graphene in recycling plastic products. Other start-ups, such as Log 9 and RF Nanocomposites, have patented graphene-based technologies for ultracapacitors, EMI shielding, and stealth applications, respectively.
  • Graphene Innovation Centre in Kerala: In a laudable step, the India Innovation Centre for Graphene was established in Kerala. This center, implemented by the Digital University Kerala in partnership with Tata Steel and C-MET, Thrissur, aims to foster large-scale innovation activity around graphene. It serves as a collaborative platform for research, development, and commercialization of graphene-based technologies.
  • Patents and Intellectual Property: While India’s graphene-related patent filings are relatively modest compared to other leading countries, there have been efforts to secure intellectual property. Indian researchers and institutions have filed patents for graphene-based technologies and applications, demonstrating innovation and progress in the field.


Q What are Semiconductors ?


  • Semiconductors are materials that have properties that are in between those of conductors (such as copper) and insulators (such as rubber).
  • They have the ability to conduct electricity under certain conditions, but not under others.
  • The conductivity of semiconductors can be manipulated through the introduction of impurities or doping with other materials.
  • This process alters the electronic properties of the material and creates regions of excess or deficit of electrons, called p-type and n-type regions respectively.
  • The interface between these regions is known as a p-n junction, which is a fundamental building block of many semiconductor devices.



Q What can be the Way Ahead in India’s graphene sector ?

  • National Graphene Mission: Establish a dedicated National Graphene Mission, similar to initiatives undertaken by other countries. This mission should focus on fostering research, development, and commercialization of graphene-based technologies, with clear objectives, timelines, and allocated resources.
  • Increased Research and Development: Encourage and fund research and development activities in graphene across academic institutions, research organizations, and industry. Foster collaborations between academia, industry, and government to drive innovation and accelerate the discovery of new applications for graphene.
  • Infrastructure and Facilities: Invest in infrastructure and facilities for large-scale production, characterization, and testing of graphene. Develop advanced laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instruments to support graphene research and development.
  • Skill Development and Training: Promote skill development programs and training initiatives to build a skilled workforce with expertise in graphene technology. Develop specialized courses and training modules at educational institutions to produce a talent pool proficient in graphene research, fabrication, characterization, and application development.
  • Industry-Academia Collaboration: Foster stronger collaboration between industry and academia to bridge the gap between research and commercialization. Encourage joint research projects, technology transfer, and the establishment of industry-academia consortia focused on graphene.
  • Funding and Financial Support: Increase funding for graphene research and development through government grants, industry investments, and venture capital. Provide financial support and incentives for start-ups and companies working on graphene technologies to encourage entrepreneurship and product development.
  • Intellectual Property Protection: Strengthen intellectual property protection mechanisms and encourage researchers and companies to file patents for graphene-based technologies and applications. Support the development of patent pools and licensing frameworks to facilitate technology transfer and commercialization.


Q What can be the Conclusion ?

  • The potential of graphene to transform industries cannot be understated. As the world advances towards the graphene age, India must secure its position as a leader rather than a bystander. The time to prioritize graphene is now, as the production of high-grade graphene may become concentrated in select global locations, similar to semiconductors. India has witnessed the consequences of missing out on the semiconductor wave, and it cannot afford to repeat history.