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Graphene UPSC NOTE

 


Graphene - INSIGHTSIAS

What is graphene?

  • Graphene is an allotrope of carbon consisting of a single layer of atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice nanostructure.

  • Each atom in a graphene sheet is connected to its three nearest neighbors by a strong σ-bond, and contributes to a valence band one electron that extends over the whole sheet.

  • The valence band is touched by a conduction band, making graphene a semimetal with unusual electronic properties that are best described by theories for massless relativistic particles.

  • A single graphene sheet is nearly transparent because of its extreme thinness.

  • It is 200 times stronger than steel but six times lighter in thickness.

Importance of Graphene

  • Graphene conducts heat and electricity very efficiently along its plane.

  • It is almost perfectly transparent as it absorbs only 2% of light. 

  • It is impermeable to gases, even those as light as hydrogen and helium.

Importance of Graphene

  • Graphene has become a valuable and useful nanomaterial due to its exceptionally high tensile strength, electrical conductivity, transparency, and being the thinnest two-dimensional material in the world.

  • Most of its demand from research and development in semiconductor, electronics, electric batteries, and composites.

  • It conducts electricity better than copper.

  • When added to other materials, graphene even in small quantities produces composite materials with dramatically transformed qualities.

  • Graphene composites are used in aerospace, automotive, sports equipment and construction.

  • It is used for high-performance batteries and supercapacitors, touchscreens, and conductive inks.

  • Graphene-based sensors are used for environmental monitoring, healthcare and wearable devices.

  • Graphene oxide membranes are used for water purification and desalination. 

  • Graphene-based masks 

  • Graphene is important for defence and aerospace as well. 

  • Its exceptional strength makes it promising material for armour and ballistic protection.

  • Graphene has the potential to absorb and dissipate electromagnetic waves, making it valuable for developing stealth coatings and materials that reduce radar signatures and electromagnetic interference. 

  • Graphene is highly sensitive to environmental changes, - help in sensing chemical and biological agents, explosives, radiation, and other hazardous substances. 

  • Besides, graphene-based materials can also protect us against chemical and biological attacks. 

  • Materials define an age — the stone age, iron age, plastic age and silicon age. There are reasons to believe that we are entering the graphene age.

Graphene production world scenario

  • Among the leading countries in graphene research are China, the U.S., the U.K., Japan, South Korea, Russia, and Singapore.

  • Till 2012, graphene-related patent filing was dominated by the U.S.

  • From 2013 to 2016, South Korea and China matched the U.S. After 2017, China surged ahead. 

  • In 2018, China filed 218 patents while the other leading countries together filed 79. India had eight filings.

  • China and Brazil are global leaders in the commercial production of graphene.

Graphene production and research in India

  • India produces about one-twentieth compared to China and one-third compared to Brazil.

  • But India’s progress has been better than many nations.

  • The Centre for Nano Science and Engineering at IISc Bangalore along with KAS Tech produced a graphene-based system several years ago.

  • Some start-ups and foreign subsidiaries have started graphene or graphene derivatives in India. 

  • Tata Steel has succeeded in growing graphene (about 50 micrometers large domains) using annealing and extracting atomic carbon from steel surface. It has also mixed graphene with used plastic products to recycle them as new.

  • India figured out how graphene oxide-based wrappers loaded with preservatives can increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.

  • The IIT Roorkee-incubated Log 9 has patented a technology for graphene-based ultracapacitors.

  • The IIT Kanpur-incubated RF Nanocomposites has developed EMI shielding and stealth technology using graphene-based nanotubes.

  • Setting up of the India Innovation Centre for Graphene in Kerala. It is being implemented by the Digital University Kerala in partnership with Tata Steel and C-MET, Thrissur. 

Way forward

  • Need for a national graphene mission.

    • China declared graphene a priority in its 13th Plan. 

    • Europe set up the Graphene Flagship, with a budget of €1 billion in 2013.

  • A nodal Ministry needs to be entrusted with this responsibility; else the subject will fall through the cracks.

  • India needs to be among the leaders in graphene because we may experience the ‘winner takes the most’ situation here. 

  • Given the high cost-to-volume ratio for high-grade graphene, its production may get concentrated in a few locations in the world, as in the case of semiconductors. 

  • India missed the semiconductor bus in the mid-1990s. The time to step on the graphene pedal is now.

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