Understanding Graphene and its Medical Applications

Look at the innovative new products being developed and you will see that many of them use graphene one way or the other. Graphene has scientists and inventors excited all over the world and we will explain why.  

What is Graphene?

Graphene is a layer of carbon. What makes it so unique is the way the atoms are configured in graphene. Carbon has many forms – determined by the way that the atoms are arranged. The graphite used in pencils and diamonds are both carbon, but the arrangement of their carbon atoms differentiates them. Graphene is a form of carbon which was discovered in 2004.

What makes graphene so unique is that it’s composition is in 2d. The atoms of other forms of carbon are in 3D – you have atoms expanding in all directions. What’s unique about graphene is that these atoms are arranged in a hexagonal pattern in a flat, two-dimensional form. The difference is easy to visualize. Imagine stacking billiard balls on top of each other – that is how most forms of carbon are. Now spread them out so that they are all on a flat surface – that is how the atoms are arranged in graphene.

Why Graphene is so useful

The way the atoms are laid out makes graphene a very interesting and exciting material. It is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat – largely because of its flat shape, which allows these things to be conducted without much resistance. It is also very strong, so you can use graphene in products without worrying about it breaking. It is flexible too.

All these properties have made it great for wearable technology such as smart fabrics. You can use it to add a smart patch to any clothes, and this patch can act as a sensor. Since it conducts electricity and heat, it can detect many different things in your body.

Diabetics and wearable devices

Graphene-based technologies can help diabetic patients manage their illness. It can collect medical data from a patient’s body and make it available to their doctor. It can monitor vitals and many other signs. Constant monitoring will ensure that some of the worst consequences of diabetes can be controlled. We will be able to detect falling blood sugar levels as well, and remedy the situation before it becomes serious. Graphene-based technology can also monitor the body for any infections or ulcers, which are a big problem for diabetic patients.

One company that is working hard to make this a reality is Bonbouton. Bonbouton is focusing on implementing the technology in a button, which would then be able to offer 24/7 monitoring for diabetic patients. This will lead to many positive outcomes. One thing it will prevent is the need for amputations – through constant monitoring, it will be able to detect any developing ulcers, and recommend going to the doctor before it becomes a serious enough issue and needs amputation. The company is aiming to release the product in the market by the year 2018.

Linh Le