Graphene: rewriting the history of eye care

Graphene is the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive substance. Already tested in presbyopia treatment, it is a promising candidate for ocular drug delivery, health monitoring and smart contact lenses, writes Kim Thomas.

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In 2004, two scientists at the University of Manchester, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, succeeded in isolating graphene through the homespun method of using sticky tape to separate fragments repeatedly from a lump of bulk graphite, the same material used to make pencil leads.  

Graphene, a material only a single atom thick, in which carbon atoms are bound in a hexagonal lattice, was quickly recognised as having a particularly exciting set of properties: it is the world’s thinnest, strongest material, and the most conductive (of heat and electricity), enabling it to be used in a wide range of applications, from microelectronics to aerospace and biomedical science. Other materials can be made much stronger by the simple addition of graphene, and its thinness makes it a promising candidate for use in batteries and supercapacitors.

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