Graphene has been hailed as a miracle material that many believe could revolutionise many industries, but it might have more dangerous side effects as it spreads into the environment, experts say.
Researchers have found that the graphene oxide, created when the material is exposed to air, moves easily through bodies of water. Researchers worry could lead to it easily finding its way into human bodies.
That is worrying because the effects of graphene in human bodies are unknown. One recent study at Brown University found that jagged edges of the material can easily pierce cell membranes, allowing it to enter cells and disrupt their functions.
“The situation today is similar to where we were with chemicals and pharmaceuticals 30 years ago,” said Jacob D Lanphere, a graduate student who worked on the new paper studying graphene in water. “We just don’t know much about what happens when these engineered nanomaterials get into the ground or water.”
Graphene is expected to be used for new inventions including super-fast computers, taking the place of the non-toxic silicon. The very strong and thin material is made by slicing off atom-thick layers of carbon in a lab, but can also be made using a kitchen blender.
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