Graphene – 100 times stronger than steel, and super conductive – is about to make its mark on our world. . .
What is Graphene?
Graphene was discovered by two scientists from the University of Manchester, who won a Nobel prize for it. According to Wikipedia “Graphene is pure carbon in the form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet, one atom thick. It is remarkably strong for its very low weight (100 times stronger than steel) and it conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency. While scientists had theorized about graphene for decades, it was first produced in the University of Manchester’s lab in 2003.Because it is virtually two-dimensional, it interacts oddly with light and with other materials. Researchers have identified the bipolar transistor effect, ballistic transport of charges and large quantum oscillations.”
Uses of Graphene
To quote Wikipedia: “While as of 2014, graphene is not used in commercial applications, many have been proposed and/or are under development, in areas including electronics, biological engineering, filtration, lightweight/strong composite materials, photovoltaics and energy storage. Graphene is produced as a powder and as a dispersion in a polymer matrix, or adhesive, elastomer, oil and aqueous and non-aqueous solutions. The dispersion is stated by the manufacturer to be suitable for advanced composites, paints and coatings, lubricants, oils and functional fluids, capacitors and batteries, thermal management applications, display materials and packaging, inks and 3D-printers’ materials, and barriers and films.”
However, there are some near term applications, for instance:
Graphene Body Armour
Twice as strong as Kevlar and nearly 10 times stronger than steel and super lightweight, this armour has a real potential to stop kinetic small arms bullets. How it will cope with non kinetic weapons such as US Navy laser weapons is open for debate.
Graphene-Based Drinking Water Filter
Graphene can desalinate sea water if it is used as the base for filters. Arid countries will see immense benefits from this.
Commercial Market Valuation
Even in 2014 the commercial market for Graphene is worth $9 billion, which is a scratch on the surface of materiel use but a significant indicator of its potential.