How “Graphene” will leap frog Mobility
Graphene is one the worlds best kept secrets. Especially as it is nothing short of becoming the most important enabler for a revolution in electronics but more particularly in mobility.
To summarise graphene has the capacity to turn consumer electronics into a world of flexible, paper thin, super light, unbreakable devices. “You could theoretically roll up your iPhone and stick it behind your ear like a pencil,” stated Professor James Tour, of Rice University. But beyond traditional electronic devices we know today it will enable many new fields of innovation just like “plastics” did in the 50ties.
No surprise that Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester who discovered graphene won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”.
What is Graphene ?
Graphene is made of the carbon found in graphite (the black stuff we write with in a pencil). However graphene is it’s “sliced” version : but sliced to the elementary thickness of one carbon atom as shown on the picture. It is the two -dimensional status that apparently is key to give graphene it’s amazing set of optical, electrical and mechanical properties.
It is also the “atom thick slicing” that makes it very hard today to make for industrial purposes yet today.
How will Graphene enable mobility ?
I have listed a non exhaustive list of key elements of graphene that most closely relate to enabling mobility in the future.
- Graphene is 20 times harder that diamond and 200 stronger than structural steel : this is the most amazing part of the story. How can an ultra thin sheet of atoms be so strong. The magic lays in the fact that you have a one atom layer (two dimensional) material which make electrons behave totally different than when they are in a three dimensional material (go figure why ?…)
As a result for mobility the new strength and durability will move the boundaries of where electronic devices will be able to be used both temperature, pressure and usage related wise.
- Graphene is a super conductor : don’t ask me to explain but basically graphene electrons are able to move at the speed of light which makes it the most conductive material in the world. As a results graphene is 35% more conductive than copper and a 1000 more than silicon
As a result for mobility it will enable two things. First it will allow the electronics industry to leave behind the silicon technology that is used today to make our processors. It will allow to break the famous 7nanometer barrier for thinness of processors (see video of IBM).
Secondly it will revolutionize the battery autonomy, it’s weight and recharging speed. For illustration, your phone battery will be reloaded in 5 seconds. Reloading your Tesla car will be a matter of minutes.
- Graphene is translucent : it will allow to transport all digital content that today is on a TV or Tablet.
As a result for mobility it can take on properties of a screen and allow all digital content put on graphene to be projected. Concretely, this means that we will be able to wall paper the walls of our houses with “graphene enabled wall paper” allowing to project any content anywhere on the wall paper !
- Graphene is flexible : it can flex up to 20 percent of it’s size
As a result for mobility it will enable to be integrated into the high flexibility demand of “wearables” or for example create “paper alike” materials that you can fold like a newspaper while being a full digital screen.
- Graphene is abundant : graphene is the 5th most abundant material in the world. A bucket of graphene can cover the whole world in one sheet of graphene !
As a result for mobility it will be able to replace Indium Tin oxide used today in tablets and mobile touch screen and which is today the 4th most rare material !
- Graphene can be a human disease detector : think about being able to make a fishing net that is one atom thick but where you design the net in any shape of wholes that you can imagine. When put in your body (Graphene does not oxidate so the body will tolerate) it could detect certain DNA’s strings that flow through your blood just because their shape would match the shape of the net-wholes. The “fishing net” could then immediately report it digitally for medical intervention. Similar characteristics are said to fundamentally change our ability to filter soilder water (even see water) to solve our possible future shortage of drinkable water.
As a result for mobility we will not only be able to have wearables that detect key measures of our body from the outside but actually straight from the inside !
So what are we waiting for …. well at least a small decade and a couple billions later…
The good news is that for a material that only really got studied since 2004 I think it is fair to say that graphene has capped the imagination of both scientist and key industries.
To make flawless graphene in mass production is however a real challenge. A small imperfection in a sheet of graphene makes the whole sheet loose it’s properties. Nevertheless we see strong commitments to invest in finding a way for mass production: States (UK, US and Europe) and Companies (IBM, Samsung) are pouring billions into it as we speak (see video’s below). IBM alone has committed 3 billion in research and development to break the famous 7nanometer barrier to build the future processors that will enable this new world of electronics.
So the next time you hold a pencil ….. remember that you holding the future of electronics …..
For a good recap Video please look at the following video’s :