With silicon ‘possibly’ running out of steam in the world of semiconductors and the end nigh for Moore’s Law according to experts, it’s not hard to see why the electronics PR world is getting excited about graphene.
Graphene is a form of carbon that comes in sheets one-atom thick, with its atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice. Discovered at Manchester University in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantic Novoselov, who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010, graphene’s properties encompass an astonishing range of superlatives, including better electrical and thermal conductivity, mechanical strength and optical purity than any other material.
From Novak Djokovic’s tennis rackets to Apple reportedly filing a US patent application on a graphene-based heat sink for the lithium batteries and circuit boards in its tablets and smartphones, the list of potential applications is vast. In electronics, they range from ultra-fast transistors to foldable computer displays and light-emitting diodes; it promises more efficient lasers and photodetectors; it could transform electrical storage and production from batteries to solar cells. Composite materials containing graphene could strengthen aircraft wings and the biomedical uses include tissue engineering and drug delivery.
The FT reported last week that scientists have now discovered graphene has a remarkable magnetic property as well that could open a new route to electronic devices with extremely low energy consumption.
A potential goldmine for investors, harder than diamond, incredibly flexible and the world’s best conductor of electricity… what’s not to be excited about?
photo credit: CORE-Materials