The key difference between graphene and carbon fiber is that graphene has a thickness of single carbon atom layer whereas carbon fiber has a micrometre scale thickness.
Both graphene and carbon fiber are carbon-containing substances. Graphene contains only carbon atoms while carbon fiber mostly contains carbon along with some other elements such as oxygen and nitrogen. Another important difference between graphene and carbon fiber is in the way that the carbon sheets interlock in these substances. However, both types contain carbon arranged in the same regular hexagonal pattern.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Graphene
3. What is Carbon Fiber
4. Side by Side Comparison – Graphene vs Carbon Fiber in Tabular Form
What is Graphene?
Graphene is an allotrope of carbon that has a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern. Consequently, it is a semimetal that has small overlap between valence and conduction bands. The structure of graphene is the basic structure of many carbon-containing substances such as graphite, diamond, charcoal, carbon nanotubes, etc.
Moreover, there are many important and uncommon properties in graphene. For instance, it is the strongest material that we have ever tested. Furthermore, it can conduct heat and electricity in high efficiency. The substance is nearly transparent. Apart from that, it shows diamagnetism and also it has two-dimensional properties.
Each carbon atom in the graphene sheet has four bonds around it such as three sigma bonds with three other carbon atoms in the same plane and a pi bond perpendicular to the plane. The distance between the two carbon atoms in this structure is about 1.42 Å. As a result, the tightly packed carbon atoms and the sp2 hybridization of each carbon atom give graphene its high stability. Thus, if we expose these sheets to other carbon-containing substances such as hydrocarbon, they can repair the damages in the sheets themselves.
Applications of graphene are in the field of medicine (tissue engineering, bioimaging, drug delivery, testing, toxicity), in electronics (production of transistors, transparent conducting electrodes, optoelectronics, etc.), in light processing (optical modulators, UV lens), etc.
What is Carbon Fiber?
Carbon fiber is a form of fiber that has mostly carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern. These fibers have about 5-10 micrometre in diameter. Above all, this substance is available in the form of a continuous tow wound onto a reel. And, this tow contains a bundle of thousands of individual carbon filaments in a continuous manner. Moreover, this bundle is protected with an organic coating. Therefore, we can unwind the tow for the intended application.
The atomic structure of this material is similar to that of graphene; hexagonal pattern. Moreover, there are two forms of carbon fiber according to the precursor that we use to make this material; turbostratic or graphitic. Sometimes, it is a hybrid of both structures.
The most important properties of this material include high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high-temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion. Due to these properties, carbon fiber is popular in aerospace applications, military, etc.
What is the Difference Between Graphene and Carbon Fiber?
Graphene is an allotrope of carbon that has a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern while carbon fiber is a form of fiber that has mostly carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern. These are materials composed mainly of carbon atoms. However, they differ from each other according to the thickness. Hence, the key difference between graphene and carbon fiber is that graphene has a thickness of single carbon atom layer whereas carbon fiber has a micrometre scale thickness. Another important difference between graphene and carbon fiber is that graphene sheets pack tightly whereas carbon fiber has no tightly packed sheets.
The below infographic on difference between graphene and carbon fiber shows more differences between both.
Summary – Graphene vs Carbon Fiber
Graphene and carbon fiber are important carbon-containing materials. The key difference between graphene and carbon fiber is that graphene has a thickness of single carbon atom layer whereas carbon fiber has a micrometre scale thickness.
1. “Potential Applications of Graphene.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2018. Available here
2. “Carbon Fibers.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Oct. 2018. Available here
1.”Graphene-3D-balls”By Jynto (talk) – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.”Kohlenstofffasermatte”By Hadhuey at German Wikipedia – Own work, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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