What is Graphene?

Graphene is a single layer of graphite or carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice. More importantly, it is one of the most promising nanomaterials ever to be discovered.

Graphene is the world's thinnest, strongest and most electrical and thermal conductive material.

What makes graphene unique?

  • 200 times stronger than steel
  • 1 millionth the thickness of human hair
  • Absorbs only 2.3% visible light, making it nearly invisible
  • Can be stretched up to 120% of its initial size without breaking

Graphene has extremely high surface area-to-mass ratio – each gram of graphene has a surface area more than 2,600 square meters. 2 grams of graphene has nearly the same surface area as a regulation NFL football field.

Not all graphene is equal

  • There is no single type of graphene, but instead a large family of unique variations that are all a little bit different and designed to do different things.

  • Some forms of graphene can be made using a simple household blender; graphene with few or single layers (e.g., monolayer graphene) and graphene oxide are much more difficult to produce, but this is where the biggest opportunities lie.

  • Because there are so many variations of graphene, their naming conventions can be confusing. Graphene technically refers to a single layer of carbon atoms, but quite often the term is used generally when referring to multi-layer variations that cannot achieve the same properties and be used for the same things.

  • For example, attributes like certain degrees of strength enhancement or heat resistance in plastics and polymers can be achieved with graphene nanoplatelets and lower-quality, multilayer graphene, but more technical and safety-sensitive uses in the healthcare field and for electronics require higher-quality, fewer layer graphene

To clearly differentiate between variations, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines the different forms of graphene as :

# of sheetsProduct Description
1Graphene (monolayer)
1-3Very few layer graphene (vFLG)
2-5Few layer graphene (FLG)
2-10Multilayer graphene (MLG)
>10Exfoliated graphite or Graphene Nanoplatelets (GNP)

In general, fewer layers = more powerful attributes, broader usage possibilities, much more difficult to produce and significantly more expensive.

Zentek's focus is commercializing very few layer graphene and developing technology to produce monolayer graphene. We also have a unique graphite deposit ideally suited for making high-quality graphene for unique and highly technical uses. The most important properties for graphene production are exfoliation and dispersion. Albany has a unique combination of graphite purity, particle size and consistency, which give it a significant advantage in both areas.

What can graphene do?

The possibilities for graphene are nearly limitless:

  • It can be added to plastics, metals and many other materials to make them stronger, lighter, more durable and more conductive

  • Thanks to its large surface area, other elements – like the antimicrobial agent in our ZENGuard™ technology – can be attached to the surface of graphene, which can then be used to protect against pathogens and treat disease in crops, livestock and humans

Graphene also has the ability to greatly advance energy storage and microchip technology because of its extremely high capacity and electron mobility.

Graphene does not just have one application, It is not even one material. It is a huge range of materials. A good comparison would be to how plastics are used.
Andre Geim, Professor at Manchester University and Co-holder of the Nobel Prize in physics for his work with graphene

How is graphene made?

Exfoliation is the process of transforming graphite into graphene. There are several different exfoliation methods in use today. The most common are chemical, electrochemical, mechanical and thermodynamic. High-quality graphite and the exfoliation process are key to producing high-value graphene in large quantities.

The Graphene Council

Zentek is a proud member of the The Graphene Council, the leading source for graphene research and commercial application news and intelligence.
Learn more