The smart money is on graphene. In the 13 years since researchers at the University of Manchester successfully extracted the ‘wonder material’, discovery after discovery has been made about the almost absurd variety of purposes to which the 2D object can be put. From electronics to engineering, sports to healthcare, it sounds too good to be true – but the only caveat is that it might take a little time to get there.
Graphene, a form of carbon in which the atoms are bonded in a honeycomb-shaped lattice, quickly became noted for its tremendous strength, flexibility, and conductivity. One million times thinner than human hair, it is 300 times the strength of steel – yet its transparency and bendability make it capable of a far broader spectrum of engineering and architectural feats.
It could prove to be the missing link in the long-promised evolution of a truly flexible, foldable screen. Imagine a tablet computer you could you could roll up and put in your pocket, or a smart phone-cum-smart watch that you can strap on your wrist like a slap bracelet. What’s more, your desktop and laptop computers are likely to run 30 times faster when their silicon processors are replaced by graphene alternatives. Sounds like something people might want to buy into?
The material also arrives in time to help offset some of the staggering damage that we’re continuing to inflict on our environment. Manchester’s boffins are now looking into graphene’s potential to store wind- or solar-harnessed energy, and graphene oxide can form a barrier to isolate water from pollutants, potentially providing clean water for those in developing countries and beyond.
Even in today’s climate of technical innovation, it’s rare that such a game-changer comes along – and rarer still that it should be so overlooked by the media. To get yourself up to speed on the next big thing in, well, just about any sector you can imagine, check out this new infographic guide from 911 Metallurgist. This wonder material looks to be a solid bet.
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