From high speed transistor to single molecule detection, is there anything this guy cannot do? (Image credit: wikimedia commons)
Today is my graphene day. Unlike most of the other nanomaterials, such as nanodots, nanorods, nanowires and nanoporous materials, whose synthetic investigation well preceded application-orientated studies, graphene was born with a goal in mind: electronics. Touted as THE next generation electronic materials, THE replacement of silicon-based electronics, graphene was aggressively pursued by industrial labs immediately after the discovery in university labs. IBM recently demonstrated 100GHz transistors wafer scale graphene. (Our labtops or desktops are working at only about 1-3GHz.) Predictions by theorists on electronic, optical, and mechanical properties expressed in superlative terms gave everyone an impression that a new age has dawned.
Something is missing here. What? Chemistry. And today's first session on graphene is titled Chemistry of Graphene. The synthesis of high quality graphene is still a challenge, and the next two sessions were on the synthesis of graphene, first from epitaxial growth on SiC and the second from exfoliation. The day ended with a mind-blowing transmission electron microscopy movies (yes, movies not images) on graphene and nanoparticles or guest atoms. After the day, I am still left with the question: what can a chemist do about graphene? It is a totally different monster than any other large molecules that chemists ever dealt with. And I guess any existing protocols on double bond or aromatic structures needs to be at least modified. Or there should be a paradigm shift in thinking: we should not deal with the reactivity of a single bond any more, instead, an ensemble of bonds.