It seems like the uses for graphene just won't stop coming. The ultra-strong sheet material, made from bonded carbon atoms, has so far shown promise for use in transistors, computer chips, DNA sequencing, and batteries ... just to name a few possibilities. Now, scientists have discovered that it can also be used as a very effective anti-corrosion coating - and at just one atom in thickness, it's thinner than any of the alternatives.

In a study conducted by scientists from Nashville's Vanderbilt University, graphene was grown via chemical vapor deposition directly onto copper and nickel surfaces. When subjected to corrosive elements, it was found that copper protected with a single layer of graphene corroded seven times slower than bare copper. Nickel, when protected with multiple layers, corroded 20 times slower than when unprotected.

Even when transferred onto other metals (as opposed to being grown on them), graphene was still found to offer the same amount of protection as regular organic coatings over five times thicker. While that difference in thickness might not matter much when it comes to things like the hulls of ships, the scientists believe that graphene could come in very handy when protecting things such as microelectric components.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Nano.