“Graphene” to Replace Silicon for 21st Century Technology

Imagine a sheet of unbelievably strong, nearly transparent, conductive, flexible, and natural material – all while being almost 2-dimensional… It’s called graphene, and scientists are just now discovering its applications. Graphene is graphite, like in your old No. 2 pencils, but with atoms hexagonally linked together on a plane that’s only as thick as the carbon atoms of which it’s made. It’s already being heralded as the substance that will define the 21st Century.

The discovery is as old as the 1940s, but researching possible applications to present-day hi-tech stuff dates back to only about 2004, where researches in the UK found ways to reproduce it, using – believe it or not – clear adhesive tape from the desk drawer. A close relative of carbon nanofiber tubes, graphene sheets may soon replace aging microchip technology with its superior flexibility, conductivity, strength, and low-cost.

Even though graphene is still in the R&D phase, here is a very short list of its potential uses:

  • Microchips – graphene-borne transistors perform better; as soon as mass production brings costs down and supplies up, silicon microchips may become antiquated
  • Increased Internet speeds – single-atom layers of conductive material moves light faster than thicker, heavier conductive wire; graphene may speed things up 100 times over
  • Contact lenses –Phone cameras already pick up UV rays – if contact lenses are developed to do this, infrared “heat-vision” is just around the corner
  • Biotech – graphene’s incredible strength, despite its flat, chicken-wire atomic structure, may prove to revolutionize synthetic organs and prosthetic limbs; at the very least, it could be woven into clothing to both protect the wearer and turn her or him into a walking Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Solar cells – because of the way the atoms connect, panels made with grapheme may be “hundreds of thousands of times thinner and lighter” than their old school silicon friends, revolutionizing solar-power
  • Bendable, foldable mobile devices – if malleability is the future, then graphene is in line to be the big-ticket material for mass production

What’s more, it just may be the most earth-friendly hi-tech material yet, as ExtremeTech.com notes:

Carbon nanotubes are carbon, life’s primary structural component. This means that graphene…could be biodegradable, too.

Yeah! Happy Earth Day, everybody!

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • DrOmni says:

    Ha, I would love to see a future 8K or even 16K gaming GPU made of this if the saying that it’s more effective and cheaper than silicon is proven to be real.

  • Stephen says:

    The benefits of graphene extend well beyond electronic applications. It’s incredibly strong while only a fraction of the weight of steel. It can be used for dramatically cheaper aircraft, space ships, and submersibles that use far less fuel. Its also replacing armor in tanks. The Chinese have begun experimenting with graphene body armor. This material has the potential to change the face of the world even more than the transistor did.

    • Jason B. says:

      @Stephen – Indeed! There are too many advantages to list. I am excited to see how we put them all to use. Thanks for the comment. -JB

  • catise1 says:

    It’s a great material for filtering water, too!

  • Ray says:

    Doesn’t matter if the production of the material is low-cost. The matter is that it will be called “New Technology” so we will be paying an arm and a leg for it.

  • Guy Montana says:

    Could this be the forerunner to “duotronics” as mentioned in the original tv series “Star Trek” episode “The Ultimate Computer”?

  • philetus says:

    Cheaper than silicon so they will only charge 4 times the price of stuff made of Silicon.

  • AbarrentFatDude says:

    One thing you guys are failing to understand is that, since its cheaper to manufacture, it will be more available for developers and researchers, setting our technological advancement in to top gear. yes it will be more expensive for the end user, but the point is that research and development will be dirt cheap, so everyone will be able to get a piece of the pie early on.

  • Jim Jenkins says:

    Is there a pubilicly traded company working on this?

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