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What Is a Graphene Capacitor and Why Do You Need It?

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Take a moment right now to imagine yourself 100 years into the future, you start looking around and notice that a graphene capacitor is powering every car, computer, and any other electrical devices. Up until now, you have never been introduced to the concept of a graphene capacitor or even the element of graphene, leaving you astonished trying to figure out why the average lithium batteries have been replaced with graphene capacitors. As you begin to investigate, you come into contact with a newspaper talking about how graphene has supplied us with a brand new alternative source of energy. In the end, you figure out that graphene has these fascinating properties that allowed it to be converted into a superconductor allowing machinery no matter how advanced to function from an unlimited source of energy. You are still left there to wonder about how everything works and why. Thus, the question now is, what exactly is graphene and how is it able to generate an alternative source of energy.

The study of graphite has been around way back until the 1500s but was only considered theoretical until two professors in 2014 discovered the existence of graphene and confirmed the theories about graphene. In 2014, two professors, Professor Andr Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselv, were able to isolate graphene for the very first time by separating the graphite fragments repeatedly until the graphene was about one atom thick. The discovery of graphene then sparked a study towards graphene to fully understand the element’s properties and to see whether it’s beneficial for our use. Let’s first begin by explaining what graphene is and the role it plays in our scientific community.

First of all, graphene is a basic structural element consisting of a single layer carbon atom that is rearranged into a honeycomb-like structure. The properties that make graphene unique is their characteristics to be flexible and light; more specifically, picture a strain of human hair, yet the compound being a thousand time smaller in size. Although miniature in size, graphene can be extremely tough-once layered upon each other making the element stronger than steel. Additionally, once the carbon atoms are rearranged into a honeycomb structure, the graphene acts as a net-like barrier allowing it to stop other elements from going through the structure just like a permeable membrane. In fact, helium, known to be an element that is quite hostile will be deterred from penetrating the graphene honeycomb structure. For example, one theoretical idea would be the graphene filtration, in which the graphene is capable of forming a barrier that would separate water molecules from any other substance like a gas mixture or organic solvent. Doing this would help various countries from having to drink unfiltered water. Properties like these will not only benefit us but the entire world. Many scientists theorize that graphene can be used as a supercapacitor, but never seriously pursued the theory until recently.

In 2017, a group of researchers have discovered some evidence to prove that graphene can be used as a conductor. As stated above, graphene is a very tough material known to be an efficient source of the conductor to both heat and electricity; however, what is a superconductor? Superconductivity is a process in which zero electrical resistance and expulsion of magnetic flux field occur in a certain material converting it into a superconductor. A superconductor or supercapacitor are known to be made up of two metal plates that are filled with positive and negative. One plate has all the positive ions and the other the negative ions, allowing supercapacitors to store energy in the electric field that is formed between the two opposite charged particles. Superconductivity will occur and produce electricity without resistance only when the temperature is below or close to absolute zero. In fact, the optimal temperature for a superconductor to be utilize would be around -140 degrees Celsius. Ergo, superconductors are employed for various application like in an MRI, Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), electric generators, etc.

Now the question is, how does a graphene superconductor work and why is it beneficial? First of all, when the electrons come in contact with graphene, “the electrons undergo a special state named ‘Dirac-cone’ where the electrons behave as if they had no mass.” During this state since the electrons are massless, they are able to flow at high speed giving graphene a high level of electrical conductivity. In addition, the electrons experience no resistance whatsoever allowing scientist to believe that this might be a way to make high-speed Nanoelectronic devices. This will allow us to revolutionized electronics by replacing batteries with graphene conductors, thus allowing for free energy. These implications can make our everyday lives easier and can even be implemented into biomedical devices, power grids, and even new medical technology. An example of graphene being implemented into biological devices would be a device known as a biosensor. A biosensor is a “device used for detection of a chemical substance, that combines a biological component with a physicochemical detector.” In other words, a biosensor is capable of detecting chemical substances using an electrical response.

The reason graphene is being used for the biosensor is that graphene is an ideal material known for their properties. Although superconductors are useful, according to a recent new study by the University of Cambridge, graphene conductivity can open more doors to the technological revolution. An example of this would be graphene solar cells, an electronic device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity through a process named “photovoltaic.” Graphene solar cells are well known for their high electrical current, and they are known to be transparent. These solar cells will then be constructed into solar panels where it captures the sun’s energy and converts into electricity. Through research, according to the scientist, they have seen a “reflectance of solar ray reduce by 20%, which benefits the efficiency of the solar panels by 20%.” Making graphene solar panels very beneficial to us. A research group in the University of Arkansas found that a single 10×10 nm (Nanometer) piece of graphene can produce 10 Nano watts. Why is this? The answer is when the research group introduced graphene to the element “praseodymium cerium copper oxide,” where they were able to unlock the graphene’s full potential.

The graphene’s full potential will only be known once a scientist is able to fully utilize and manipulate graphene’s properties to produce a superconductor. Some researchers suggest that graphene can be used to create new types of hardware applied to manufacture of quantum computers. Using the graphene to its full potential allows us to use graphene conductors to advance in quantum computing, also known as a system capable of using quantum-mechanics to improve the speed of a regular computer processor further. In a traditional computer system software, computers solely rely on binary digits, whereas quantum computers use quantum bits that can be in multiple states at the same time. Such properties will make quantum computing 100 million times faster than any regular computer processor. Furthermore, making graphene into a superconductor can change the way we use energy, allowing us to use the same amount of energy dedicated to our responsibilities from an alternative source that is not finite. Graphene is usually suggested as a replacement for supercapacitors because graphene has a high relative surface area to allow for a better electrostatic charge.

Graphene conductivity alone is already opening up to various ideas in certain industries by replacing various materials, technology, and conductors with graphene-based supercapacitors. They are very beneficial as they have the ability to store more energy than your average lithium batteries. Moreover, scientists are trying to find a way to turn graphene into a supercapacitor using a higher temperature. This is because in order to achieve superconductivity the material has to go below a certain freezing point. Once a scientist achieves this goal, they will be able to apply the graphene conductor on supercomputers and any other technology that requires electricity. Besides graphene acting as a supercapacitor, graphene can act as an insulator. Most insulators are used to support any charged conductor. In fact, when graphene acts as an insulator, it tends to block electrons from flowing.

In order to get graphene-based insulator researchers have found that when you rotate two sheets of graphene at a magical angle, the graphene experiences a non-conducting behavior. Meaning that there is no electrical resistance occurring, which allows it to act as an insulator. Once scientist applied a voltage of electricity to the graphene sheets, they noticed that the electrons broke out from its state and flowed without resistance. In addition, graphene is transparent in light, a shared characteristic of glass, which allow for better wearable and flexible screen projects. Just recently, engineers have been using graphene to create a durable and flexible screen protector for mobile phones. One method of producing these screens with graphene is using the principle of active matrix electrophoretic. During the process, “there is an electric field that outputs images by rearranging particles suspended in a solution. Graphene electrodes are then added onto a flexible plastic panel and ingrain with electric circuits, producing a flexible graphene display.” Engineers have also produced OLED (Organic Light-emitting display) electrodes using graphene which improves the touching capabilities and creates more efficient solar cells. Graphene properties are very beneficial having the potential to be applied to durable situations like display screens, solar cells, light collection, and even infrared light detection.

Finally, graphene as a building element is going to change the way structures are built as they will able to withstand extreme temperature. Graphene is well known for having the highest melting point than any other material allowing it to go up to 4510 degrees’ Kelvin. This allows scientist to perform several experiments with graphene and offering multiple opportunities to unfold. Furthermore, graphene is the simplest and the strongest material that has ever been discovered with promising applications. The reason it’s characterized as semimetal or semiconductor is due to the fact that there is a small overlap between its valence and conduction bands, which determines the electrical conductivity of the solid. This allows for the structure of graphene to create a high conductivity. Graphene overall is an excellent material acting as a gateway to many inventions, especially a superconductor.

In conclusion, researchers have astounded the entire scientific community by unlocking the true potential of graphene by making it a superconductor in its own right. In other words, the scientist was able to make graphene into a superconductor by exploring and understanding their properties. This new study can revolutionize our entire society by applying the various characteristics of conductivity to our daily machinery which will better our lives. Making graphene into a conductor means that we won’t lose any type of energy, thus having limitless energy. In addition, a graphene conductor can lead to new studies, for example, discovering the existence of what is known as the “p-wave,” which has been a struggle for many scientists to verify its existence. In the end, graphene has been around for years, and it has finally branched out to even more discoveries about the properties of graphene.

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