Graphene, discovered at Manchester University (UK) in 2004, is a single, 2D layer of carbon atoms, tightly packed in a hexagonal lattice structure. In simple terms, it is the thinnest, strongest material yet discoveredand the most efficient conductor of both heat and electricity currently available. A single-wall carbon nanotube (SWCNT) is a tubular structure that can be thought of as a rolled sheet of graphene joined to form a seamless tube. Typically around 1 nm in diameter, a CNT can be millions of times longer.
Given their near perfect blend of material properties and the fact that they are inherently lightweight and almost completely transparent, graphene and SWCNTs have been touted as breakthrough materials for more than a decade. Some observers are now asking the question, “When will they really deliver on the hype?”
As a co-founder and managing director of Future Materials Group, I take the viewthat truly revolutionary materials take significant time to establish themselves commercially. To realize the long-term potential of graphene and SWCNTs most definitely will require patient, continued development in relevant sectors.
Successfully placing a new material into an established industry sector is a huge challenge. One only has to look at once new material solutions that we now consider mainstream to see how long this process can take. Carbon fiber composites, as we know them in primary aerostructure applications, were available in the 1960s, but more than 30 years passed before we saw the first primarily carbon fiber composite airframe in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. The benefits of carbon fiber were abundantly clear and desirable, but considerable time was still required for testing, development of production processes and a credible supply chain to allow the introduction of this innovative new technology versus the incumbent or alternative material solutions.
The full story is available below.
Source: Composites World