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Graphene

2D form of carbon in a hexagonal lattice.
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Description

Graphene is two dimensional allotrope of carbon in which carbon atoms are arranged in a hexagonal pattern in a single, one atom thick layer. It is widely credited as spurring research into many other 2D materials.

The material had been theorized and observed on surfaces for decades, but in 2004 graphene was isolated and characterized by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester, research that earned them the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. The researchers used sticky tape to remove flakes from bulk graphite then repeatedly separated the flakes.

Graphene has no band gap and conducts electricity extremely well, with electron mobility at room temperature reported to be over 15000 cm2⋅V−1⋅s−1. Thermal conductivity is high, and the material is also nearly transparent and around 100 times stronger than steel in proportion to its thickness.

While graphene and other 2D materials can be isolated in small quantities in research environments using mechanical exfoliation (the sticky tape method), making it on a commercial level is more difficult. One alternative, electrochemical intercalation, infiltrates an inert molecule into a chemical vapor deposition film, chemically isolating the top layer while continuing to use the substrate for mechanical support. Another depends on atomic layer deposition of individual layers, followed by a passivation layer. Layer-by-layer deposition methods can be used to construct van der Waals heterostructures, in which a stack is held together by van der Waals forces while each layer retains its 2-D character.