The phenomenal rise in research activity and potential applications of carbon based materials including nanotubes, and in particular graphene cannot have escaped our notice.

Graphene is still quite a relatively new form of carbon made up of a single layer of atoms arranged in a honeycomb shaped lattice. Despite being one atom thick and chemically simple, graphene show's some amazing characteristics; it is extremely strong and highly conductive, making it ideal for high-speed electronics, photonics and many more potential applications too numerous to mention.

Large microchip manufacturers such as IBM and Intel have openly expressed interest in the potential of graphene as a material on which future computing could be based.

This all sounds very promising for the electronic age but one of the fundamental problems is finding a route to market for these new and a fantastic applications. Even though graphene has long shown potential, it has constantly been hampered by the ability to only produce it in small lab scale quantities. Limiting also how well it can be measured, understood and developed.

This is about to change with some research conducted recently at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and published in Nature (Tzalenchuk et al., (2010) doi:10.1038/nnano.2009.474) where scientists have “successfully laid the groundwork for future of graphene production. Their results indicate the potential for successfully producing hiqh quality levels of graphene for detailed characterisation and application.

This issue of Materials Today will bring you right up to date with some of these exciting applications of carbon based materials and give you something of an insight in to where the field may be heading.

We start with a paper from Antonio Neto, based at Boston University, with a paper aptly entitled The new carbon age.

Ferdinand Kuemmeth at Harvard, reviews some of the fascinating work he and his team are conducting in the field of Carbon nanotubes and particularly for coherent spintronic devices.

Jiaxing Huang, at Northwestern University then reviews some fascinating work they are conducting on Graphene sheets.

Nicola M. Pugno from Laboratory of Bio-Inspired Nanomechanics “Giuseppe Maria Pugno” looks at some of the work being conducted in graded cross links for stronger nanomaterials.

Thomas Markus Ihn from ETH Zurich then follows with a review of Graphene single-electron transistors and explores the possibilities and potential in this field.

We draw to a close this graphene based issue with a paper that takes us in to the future with a fascinating exploration in to some of the touch screen technology and research taking place at the moment, presented by Jonathan K. Wassei and Richard B. Kaner both from the Department of Material Science & Engineering, UCLA.

Read full text on ScienceDirect

DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(10)70019-5