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Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Tom Petty, Ravi Shankar and other luminaries populate Martin Scorcese’s 2011 biopic titled “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.”

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But this edition of Pedagogy 2.0 has little to do with the Beatles, sitars or Harrison’s celebrated antidepressant ditty “Here Comes the Sun.” Instead, this edition is about conductivity, resonance structures and the revelatory nature of materials science. This edition is about graphene.

 

What is Graphene? Digital illustration of graphene courtesy of AlexanderA1US.

Simply put, graphene is a single-molecule thick sheet of graphite.

British researchers Andre Geim and Constantin Novoselov were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene.”

What’s so special about it? For starters, it has the best electrical conductivity of any material known to man, it can be manufactured into microscopic devices, and, as a semi-metal substance or “zero-gap semiconductor,” it promises to revolutionize countless fields including the personal computer and consumer electronics industries.

Scientists now view graphene as the material poised to replace silicon, due in part to its quantum relativistic effects that can be described as:

A formula expressing the quantum relativistic effcts.

Graphene is even known to kill E. coli, thus surpassing MAD Magazine as the material of choice for wrapping fish. I believe that its six-sided carbon ring structure and resonance covalence are central to these emergent properties.

Graphene is a flat monolayer of carbon atoms tightly packed into a two-dimensional (2D) honeycomb lattice, and is a basic building block for graphitic materials of all other dimensionalities. It can be wrapped up into 0D fullerenes, rolled into 1D nanotubes or stacked into 3D graphite.

—Andre Geim and Constantin Novoselov

Why is Graphene so Important?

Graphene promises to be the nano-material of choice for textile coatings, nanobots and even large-scale construction. It is the strongest material known to man.

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Applications of Graphene

The darling of nanotechnology, graphene may revolutionize solar cells and lead to a generation of flexible, wearable touch-screen computers with foldable displays and low-power RF communication.

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Recently a new form of graphene has taken center stage. Known as GraphExeter, this new material was recently reported by ScienceDaily as “the material that could revolutionize the creation of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players.”

An example of wearable tech fashion: Polaroid Grey Label GL20 "Lady Gaga" camera sunglasses.

GraphExeter is created by sandwiching molecules of ferric chloride between two layers of graphene. Ferric chloride enhances the electrical conductivity of graphene without impeding the molecule’s famed transparency. The team at University of Exeter is now developing a spray-on version of GraphExeter which could be applied straight onto fabrics, mirrors and windows.

The tech-infused LumiTop created by LumiGram.

GraphExeter could revolutionize the electronics industry. It outperforms any other carbon-based transparent conductor used in electronics and could be used for a range of applications, from solar panels to 'smart' T-shirts. We are very excited about the potential of this material and look forward to seeing where it can take the electronics industry in the future.

—Dr Monica Craciun, Lead Researcher, University of Exeter.

To educators who believe students should give up their personal electronics when they enter the classroom door, I would ask what you will do when devices are embedded into jewelry, fashion accessories and even clothing themselves. Should we not train a new generation to dynamically interact with the cloud?

In an age when critical thinking and creativity becomes paramount, the success of future students may not reflect what they can memorize and regurgitate. Rather, it may reside in their jeans.<>