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India and Graphene

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June 05, 2023

Why in news?

India needs to catch up in the area of graphene to be among the leaders in AI and a potential challenger in quantum computing.

What is graphene?

  • Graphene is an allotrope of carbon consisting of a single layer of atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice nanostructure.
  • Graphene was discovered in 2004 for which the scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
  • It is the world’s thinnest, strongest, and most conductive material of both electricity and heat.
  • Properties - It is 200 times stronger than steel but 6 times lighter.
  • It is almost perfectly transparent as it absorbs only 2% of light.
  • It is impermeable to gases, even those as light as hydrogen and helium.
  • It has the potential to absorb and dissipate electromagnetic waves.
  • It is highly sensitive to environmental changes.

What are the applications of Graphene?

  • Graphene in itself has huge potential to revolutionise electricity, conductivity, energy generation, batteries, sensors and more.
  • Graphene composites are used in aerospace, automotive, sports equipment and construction.
  • It is used for high-performance batteries and super-capacitors, touchscreens, and conductive inks.
  • Graphene-based sensors are used for environmental monitoring, healthcare and wearable devices.
  • Graphene oxide membranes are used for water purification and desalination.
  • Graphene has an attractive potential in defence and aerospace as a promising material for armour and ballistic protection due to its exceptional strength.

What are the global trends towards graphene?

  • It was difficult to produce high-grade large-scale graphene at the time of its discovery.
  • Now over 300 companies are producing graphene or its derivatives.

As per a report, at least one graphene-enhanced product was launched every week in 2022.

  • China and Brazil are global leaders in the commercial production of graphene.
  • China, the U.S., the U.K., Japan, South Korea, Russia, and Singapore are among the leading countries in graphene research.
  • Beijing Graphene Institute was set up in 2018, where several companies produce industry-grade graphene products.
  • China declared graphene a priority in its 13th Plan.
  • Europe has set up the Graphene Flagship, with a budget of 1 billion Euro in 2013.
  • In 2018, China filed 218 graphene-related patent while the other leading countries together filed 79.
  • India had eight graphene-related patent filings.

How is India’s progress in graphene industry?

  • India’s progress has been better than many nations towards graphene.
  • India produces about one-twentieth of graphene products compared to China and one-third compared to Brazil.
  • Some start-ups and foreign subsidiaries have started graphene or graphene derivatives in India.
  • The India Innovation Centre for Graphene in Kerala is being setup and implemented by the Digital University Kerala in partnership with Tata Steel.
  • India’s niche is going to be innovation using graphene.
  • It figured out how graphene oxide-based wrappers loaded with preservatives can increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
  • Indian companies have patented for a technology for graphene-based ultra-capacitors and developed applications of graphene-based nanotubes.

What should India do to progress in graphene industry?

  • India missed the semiconductor bus in the mid-1990s, now it has to step on the graphene.
  • Like other countries, Centre needs to become the nodal point to spur large-scale innovation activity around graphene.
  • A nodal Ministry needs to be entrusted with the responsibility of ‘National Graphene Mission’.
  • India needs to be among the leaders in graphene to get benefitted the most from the industry and to excel in AI and quantum computing.


  1. The Hindu - Is India missing the graphene bus?
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