Researchers at Queen Mary University of London say that they have discovered that 2D graphene has many of the same mechanical properties as 3D graphite.

Graphene is a flat single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure, while graphite is a naturally occurring form of carbon made up from a very weak stack of many layers of graphene. The reseachers say that graphene shares a similar resistance to compression as graphite and that it is significantly thicker than previously thought. If the thickness of a block of graphite 100 layers thick is measured, the thickness of a single graphene layer could be measured as the thickness of the graphene block divided by 100, making the thickness of graphene as 0.34 nm, according to Dr Yiwei Sun, lead author of the study published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

‘Graphene owes its thickness to an array of chemical bonds sticking out above and below the 2D plane of carbon atoms,’ Dr Sun said. ‘Hence graphene is really a 3D material, albeit with a very small thickness.‘By applying conventional 3D theory, which has been used for around 400 years, to 2D materials such as graphene, which have been known for 15 years, we show that similar arguments apply to other so-called 2D materials, such as boron nitride and molybdenum disulphide. In that sense, 2D materials are actually all 3D.’

This story uses material from Queen Mary University of London, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.