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Graphene vs Graphite: What Are the Differences?

In 2021, mining operations unearthed one million metric tons of graphite for general use. But what is graphite – so far, all you’ve probably gathered is that it’s a valuable material. 

Graphene is a layer of material found inside graphite with the thickness of a single atom. Graphite is composed of hundreds of thousands of layers of graphene. However, the differences between the two are a little more complex.

There’s quite a bit of scientific discussion required to understand these two substances. Read on to discover the differences between graphene vs. graphite, their uses, and similar materials. 

What is Graphite?

This first section is our “graphite guide.” You’ll need to understand the “origin material” before discussing graphene. Graphite is a naturally occurring mineral found inside the metamorphic rock in Asia and North and South America. 

Graphite is a crystalline substance formed by reduction (increase or decrease of electrons) inside underground carbon deposits during metamorphism Metamorphism is the transformation of rock into another kind of rock. 

Graphite is the most stable form of carbon in typical laboratory conditions, and its chemical bonds are more robust than the ones found in diamonds.

Graphite is one of three natural allotropes of carbon. An allotrope is a different form of the same element at the molecular level. 

Graphite Uses

No graphite guide would be complete without labeling the material’s uses. Graphite is a fantastic heat and electrical conductor. Graphite is chemical resistant and self-lubricating. 

Common graphite uses include making lubricants and paints. Manufacturers also use the material as anodes for batteries. Graphite is a substitute for asbestos inside brake linings. 

What is Graphene? 

Graphene is a super-thin layer of graphite. A sliver of graphene has the same thickness as a single atom. Specifically, graphene is a layer of sp2-bonded carbon atoms shaped as a hexagonal lattice. 

Graphite’s structure is hundreds of thousands of layers of graphene stacked on top of each other. Despite this, graphene is a synthetic substance because labs chemically disintegrate graphite to make the material. 

Graphene Uses

Something we’ll make clear in this graphene guide is the material’s superior properties to graphite. Graphite is brittle, so it’s not a good structural material. 

Graphene is the strongest material known to man – it’s over 40 times stronger than diamond. Graphene’s durability makes it a prime candidate for building a space elevator to make space travel more accessible. 

Current graphene uses include eradicating cancer stem cells and inhibiting tumor formation for breast, lung, and brain cancers. Graphene also makes prosthetics more comfortable and aids with realistic movement. 

Graphene and Hexagonal Boron Nitrate

Graphene is similar to hexagonal boron nitride. Both have hexagonal lattice structures and are highly durable. Hexagonal boron nitrate has applications in powder metal application and tool making. 

Graphene Vs. Graphite: Similar But Not the Same

There are differences between graphene vs. graphite. Both substances share the same source but have different applications. Graphite is often used for manufacturing purposes, while graphene has medical uses. 

Check out our science tab if you found our graphite and graphene guide interesting. There are plenty more informative and intriguing articles there and throughout our website. 

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