Unearthing the Hidden Potential: Graphene’s Natural Discovery Rocks the Scientific World


By Girish Linganna, Aerospace and Defence Analyst: Graphene is an amazing material made up of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a special pattern.

It has some really cool properties that make it super useful in different areas. It’s incredibly strong, conducts electricity really well, and can even handle high temperatures.

Graphene’s unique structure also makes it great for capturing and storing energy or filtering out impurities.

Scientists are also looking into using graphene in electronics and medical devices because it’s compatible with our bodies.

Although we’re still figuring out how to use it for everyday products, graphene’s special abilities have the potential to change the way we live.

Scientists have recently made an exciting breakthrough by uncovering naturally occurring graphene in rocks that are approximately 3.2 billion years old.

This significant discovery took place beneath a gold mine in South Africa. The identification of naturally formed graphene holds the potential to revolutionize the production of this remarkable material, known for its valuable electronic properties. This development could pave the way for more energy-efficient methods of manufacturing graphene.

Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon that was first discovered in 2004 by scientists using sticky tape to take layers off pencil graphite.

The method is simple and inexpensive, but it is not scalable to produce large quantities of graphene. Current industrial methods to make large quantities of graphene require temperatures exceeding 1000 centigrade (1800 degrees Fahrenheit), which is energy-intensive and expensive. This has limited the commercialization of graphene-based products.

Scientists have found natural graphene in a gold-rich region of South Africa, the Barberton Greenstone Belt.

The graphene appears to have been formed in conditions with low temperatures, less than 300°C. This discovery could lead to new ways to produce graphene.

According to a scientist who presented the research at a geochemistry conference in Lyon, France, on 10 July, studying the formation process of graphene at lower temperatures would greatly improve energy conservation.

A team of scientists collected 24 rock samples from the Sheba gold mine in South Africa and examined them with an electron microscope.

They discovered unique and scarce carbon structures, like thin carbon filaments that were a few micrometers in length and tiny flakes of a few micrometers in size. The graphene seems to create a thin layer around larger crystal nanoparticles found within the rock.

Scientists also used a special device called a spectroscope to analyze the sample. This device helps measure different types of carbon atoms, called isotopes.

Isotopes are like different versions of the same element, but they have varying numbers of particles called neutrons. These differences can reveal valuable information about how a material was made.

What the researchers discovered was that the sample had higher levels of a specific carbon isotope. This particular isotope is linked to living organisms, suggesting that it likely came from bacteria near the ocean’s surface. When these bacteria died, their remains fell to the sea floor over time.

After the remains of the bacteria settled on the ocean floor, they mixed with certain substances like iron hydroxide byproducts.

This combination led to the creation of compounds containing carbon. Over time, these compounds experienced high pressure and temperatures, transforming into unique types of carbon.

According to researchers, the specific shape and structure of the graphene-containing formations are yet to be fully understood because they possess extraordinary properties.

One interesting observation is that the graphene film seems transparent, which is quite unusual because it typically looks black under a microscope. This indicates that there might be other elements or factors contributing to its unique makeup.

Are you an Entrepreneur or Startup?
Do you have a Success Story to Share?
SugerMint would like to share your success story.
We cover entrepreneur Stories, Startup News, Women entrepreneur stories, and Startup stories

Read more business articles related to Sales, Marketing,  Advertising, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Management, Education, and Industry at SugerMint.