Nano-Materials and Graphene

Yet again the British have come up with a ground-breaking discovery in the form of Graphene. I say British because it came out of the Nano materials department at Manchester University even though the two people responsible were Russians. Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics 2010 for their discovery.

Graphene is a two-dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure. It is ten times as conductive of electricity as copper and out-performs all other materials as a conductor of heat. It is almost completely transparent and yet so dense that helium cannot pass through it. It is over two hundred times stronger than steel, harder than diamonds and yet it is still totally flexible. It is the coming age of the super material GRAPHENE.

The uses for graphene are endless. All industries will have a use for this material. Its lightness and strength will revolutionise the Aerospace and Automobile industries. Energy storage using grapheme may mean that car batteries will complete their charge in minutes instead of hours. (Bring on the electric car!). Graphene paint used on the roofs of houses will power the home. Computers and mobile phones will become wafer thin and flexible, but the most important use in the future may be in the production of clean water. Graphene’s ability to let nothing pass through it except water makes it the world’s greatest filter. Graphene could easily and cheaply remove salt from seawater, potentially turning the oceans into a vast drinking supply for the world’s thirsty populations.

Will this material be developed only in Britain, with the rewards for its discovery staying for the financial benefit of the British? I don’t think so. The Americans are already using the knowledge from Manchester University to develop grapheme sensors for air and water measurements. Maybe it is only correct to have the great minds from around the world working to develop both the material and commercialisation of it for the future good of mankind. If all of this should come to fruition then it will have a marked effect on many industries and the companies that work in these industries. It will change many countries economies and the fortunes of races around the world and it will occur in our lifetime.

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