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Graphene was a revolutionary material when it came out. It was one atom thick and two-dimensional.
(Note: The background section uses most of the same words as the carbon nanotubes page of Terra Futura to save time.)
For nearly a century, megastructures had been constructed with steel. After 9/11, megastructures started using concrete as well. However, as structures got bigger, lighter, stronger materials would be needed. A building that went one mile into the sky and was made of steel, concrete, and glass would just collapse and create a tragedy worse than 9/11. Stronger materials would be needed. The strongest of them all was right on the tip of a pencil: Carbon. Carbon was available in many forms. It would take hot temperatures to turn enough carbon atoms into one diamond. Diamond has been used in many applications. Most of it was jewelry. Some companies even used synthetic diamonds for electronics. However, most carbon was found in layers of graphene sheets that made graphite. This was used to make pencil lead. Graphite was also used as the anode for conventional lithium-ion batteries. Graphite was even used in carbon fiber composites. In 1990, a new allotrope of carbon was discovered: Carbon Nanotubes.
When carbon nanotubes were discovered in 1990, people started looking for applications for this new material. One of the most notable applications was in construction. Tokyo's Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid was the world's largest pyramid. Made of carbon nanotubes, the structure helped solve Tokyo's overpopulation crisis. Without carbon nanotubes, the Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid. Another application was space elevators. Without carbon nanotubes, the space elevator would never have existed. As fascinating as carbon nanotubes, there was another allotrope of carbon that was just as revolutionary: Graphene.
Tech Level: 10
For the use of graphene in transistors, see Graphene Transistors
Graphene was discovered by two Russian scientists in 2006. Aside from transistors, another major application was solar panels. First designed in 2008, graphene sandwiched between nickel and plastic had better performance than conventional silicon-based solar panels. This allowed thin-film solar panels to become even more efficient. By the third decade of the 21st century, graphene-based solar panels were among the most common solar panels in use. Graphene was used a lot of other ways. It was used in the hulls of ships, both sea and space, to better protect against cosmic rays and micro-meteoroids. This was helped by carbon nanotubes. Graphene provided a revolution in materials. Meanwhile, nanoparticles were helping to revolutionize society.