Graphene, the carbon-based nanomaterial that seems to be on everybody’s lips these days has a lot more potential uses than initially suspected. Not a week goes by that we don’t hear something about new inventions based on this intriguing material. Seeing as how it can be a bit difficult for some to keep themselves up to date with what’s what these day, I figured that it might be useful if we do a small roundup of all the latest graphene news. Just these past few weeks alone there have been a number of stories covering some of the most recent discoveries and potential applications for the miracle material. With that in mind, let’s just go ahead and talk about some of the most important ones.
Fighting cavities. For a great number of people out there a trip to the dentist is one of the most horrifying experiences they can think off. Unfortunately, dental diseases are very common all around the world and seeing the dentist about them becomes necessary most of the time. In order to save yourself the trouble and pain, researchers are now working on an innovative new treatment based on graphene oxide. Early finding suggest that such a treatment could be quite effective at combating the mouth bacteria that causes cavities and gum diseases. The findings were recently published in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces and the research itself is being conducted by professor Zisheng Tang with funding from the Shanghai Natural Science Foundation and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Although it may take a while until dentists will begin prescribing cavity treatments based on graphene oxide, it does seem like this will become a real possibility someday.
Cancer treatment. This might be the best potential application for graphene yet in my opinion, as the material could very well help in the fight against one of the leading causes of death in humans. Similar to how it combats mouth bacteria, graphene oxide has found to also be effective against cancer stem cells – precursor cells that are the main cause of metastasis. Whereas chemotherapy can be helpful at destroying tumors, this treatment is ineffective at dealing with cancer stem cells, which not only leads to metastasis, but also to the tumors growing back again. According to a report by Medical News Today, researchers from the University of Manchester have discovered that graphene oxide yielded promising results against six types of cancer, including breast, pancreatic, lung, brain, ovarian and prostate. The researchers note that we’re not yet at the point where graphene treatments can be used in clinical trials, but hopefully we’ll get there soon.
Improved battery life. It gets pretty annoying when your mobile device can’t even get your through the day before you need to reach for the charger, doesn’t it? Well, it would appear that this problem will soon have a solution, as companies are already looking at graphene as a way of improving battery life for smartphones and tablets. In fact, a new Chinese phablet called Galapad Settler is already incorporating the material, which grants 50% more battery life when compared to similar models according to its manufacturer. Although the device itself is not too impressive in terms of hardware, the increased battery life is definitely a great selling point. In addition, the manufacturer has also used graphene when developing the touchscreen, which resulted in brighter and more realistic colors.
Renewable energy. It seems like graphene can not only improve battery life, but also greatly reduce its recharging time. Canadian company Sunvault Energy says that it’s currently working on developing supercapacitors that use solar energy and can recharge all manner of electronic devices in mere seconds. All we know for now is that this technology is based on graphene and that it can be scaled to almost any size. Sunvault Energy seems to suggest that this is some sort of breakthrough when it comes to renewable energy and that their technology can be used both on mobile devices and on large charging stations for electric cars. More specific details on this will be unveiled this Wednesday, March 18th.
Aside from all of these, we already know that graphene has a great number of other potential applications and can be used for developing flexible electronic devices and even night vision contacts.