Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech..

I am sure that most of you are asking yourself.. wait “graphene”? Is that a type-o for graphite? Now before we introduce to you what graphene really is and how it is expected to change the world that we live in, we would like for you to get ready for a very interesting and informative article. The reason why we have decided to discuss the topic of Graphene with you is because it is considered to be one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century. Just to remind you that technological advances and scientific innovations drive the course of history – they have always done it and will continue to do so in the future. This is why every intelligent investor should pay close attention to the scientific scene as otherwise one might miss some very lucrative investment opportunities. We don’t want you to look at this report as if it is another “hyped up” article that aims to sell you how good a certain product actually is. We want you, our followers, to be informed and to know that there is indeed a material discovered by mankind that has the properties and the potential to make most of the sci-fi effects that we have seen on TV a reality.

As the saying goes, nothing new really happens under the sun and certain materials have played major roles throughout history. For example, bronze and iron were so crucial to the spread of ancient societies that they have entire epochs named after them. Furthermore, with the rise of the American steel industry, railroad tracks spread from Atlantic to Pacific, metal veins that carried the blood of a nation. In more recent days, silicon semiconductors enabled the growth of computers and the greatest surge in information technology since the printing press. These materials shaped the development of society and helped determine which countries dominated geopolitics.

Today, a new material has the potential to shape the future. Being called consistently a “supermaterial,” graphene has researchers around the world struggling to fully understand, synthesize and produce it. Graphene’s long list of miraculous traits makes it seem almost magical, but it could have very real and drastic implications for the future of physics and engineering.

What exactly is graphene?

The simplest way to describe graphene is that it is a single, thin layer of graphite — the soft, flaky material used in pencil lead. Graphite is an allotrope of the element carbon, meaning it possesses the same atoms but they’re arranged in a different way, giving the material different properties. For example, both diamond and graphite are forms of carbon, yet they have wildly different natures. Diamonds are incredibly strong, while graphite is brittle. Graphene’s atoms are arranged in a hexagonal arrangement.

Interestingly, when graphene is isolated from graphite it takes on some miraculous properties. It is a mere one-atom thick, the first two-dimensional material ever discovered. Despite this, graphene is also one of the strongest materials in the known universe. With a tensile strength of 130 GPa (gigapascals), it is more than 100 times stronger than steel. Harder than diamond yet more elestic than rubber; tougher than steel yet lighter than aluminium.

To put this in perspective: if a sheet of cling film (like kitchen wrap film) had the same strength as a pristine monolayer of graphene, it would require the force exerted by a mass of 2000 kg, or a large car, to puncture it with a pencil.

Graphene possesses other amazing characteristics: Its high electron mobility is 100x faster than silicon; it conducts heat 2x better than diamond; its electrical conductivity is 13x better than copper; it absorbs only 2.3% of reflecting light; it is impervious so that even the smallest atom (helium) can’t pass through a defect-free monolayer graphene sheet; and its high surface area of 2630 square meters per gram means that with less than 3 grams you could cover an entire soccer field (well, practically speaking you would need 6 grams, since 2630 m2/g is the surface area for both sides of a graphene sheet).

Graphene’s incredible strength despite being so thin is already enough to make it amazing, however, its unique properties do not end there. It is also flexible, transparent, highly conductive, and seemingly impermeable to most gases and liquids. It almost seems as though there is no area in which graphene does not excel.

The future of Graphene research

Given graphene’s superiority as a material to anything known for mankind and the fact that it was practically discovered more than 15 years ago, back in 2004 at the University of Manchester one would be right to ask the question why is it not everywhere. Why has graphene not been widely adopted yet? As with most things, it comes down to money. Graphene is still extremely expensive to produce in large quantities, which in turn limits its usage at a large scale. Moreover, when large sheets of graphene are produced, there is an increased risk of tiny fissures and other flaws appearing in the material. No matter how incredible a scientific discovery may be, economics will always decide success. Additionally, in order for graphene to substitute already established materials like silicon, plastic etc. on a global scale it needs to provide sufficiently superior and long-lasting performance as a material. This is a difficult measurement as the material is still being used in a rather small number of industries and sectors, thus its longevity is difficult to measure.

Production issues aside, graphene research is by no means slowing down. Research laboratories all ovr the world — including the University of Manchester, where graphene was first discovered — are continually filing patents for new methods of creating and using graphene. The European Union approved funding for a flagship program in 2013, one that will fund graphene research for use in electronics. Meanwhile, major tech companies in Asia are conducting research on graphene, including Samsung.

Remember, revolutions don’t happen overnight. Silicon was discovered in the mid-19th century, but it took nearly a century before silicon semiconductors paved the way for the rise of computers. Might graphene, with its almost mythical qualities, be the resource that drives the next era of human history? Only time will tell.

Companies to watch:

1. Real Graphene USA

2. Applied Graphene Materials

3. Versarien

4. G6 Materials Corporation

5. Archer Materials

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