Graphene, a monolayer atomic-scale honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms, has been considered the greatest revolution in metamaterials research in the past 5 years. Its developers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010, and massive funding has been directed to graphene-based experimental research in the last years. For instance, an international scientific collaboration has recently received a €1 billion grant from the European Flagship Initiative, the largest amount of financial resources ever granted for a single research project in the history of modern science. Because of graphene's unique optical, thermal, mechanical, electronic, and quantum properties, the incorporation of graphene-based metamaterials to biomedical applications is expected to lead to major technological breakthroughs in the next few decades. Current frontline research in graphene technology includes the development of high-performance, lightweight, and malleable electronic devices, new optical modulators, ultracapacitors, molecular biodevices, organic photovoltaic cells, lithium-ion microbatteries, frequency multipliers, quantum dots, and integrated circuits, just to mention a few. With such advances, graphene technology is expected to significantly impact several areas of neurosurgery, including neuro-oncology, neurointensive care, neuroregeneration research, peripheral nerve surgery, functional neurosurgery, and spine surgery. In this topic review, the authors provide a basic introduction to the main electrophysical properties of graphene. Additionally, future perspectives of ongoing frontline investigations on this new metamaterial are discussed, with special emphasis on those research fields that are expected to most substantially impact experimental and clinical neurosurgery in the near future.
ABBREVIATIONS: BCI, brain-computer interface
CNS, central nervous system
FRET, fluorescence resonance energy transfer
GO, graphene oxide
MEMS, microelectromechanical system
NEMS, nanoelectromechanical system
NIR, near-infrared region; rGO, reduced graphene oxide