Dubbed a ‘wonder material’ graphene is set to change the future of manufacturing, 3D printing, wearable tech, energy storage and much more. Deriving from graphite, it’s the world’s first 2D material. So, what is Graphene and what economic impact will it have?
The Discovery of Graphene
The allure of this material has been around for some time now. A knowledge of the 2D material existed but scientists were unable to extract it from graphite.
This changed in 2004 when two researchers from The University of Manchester, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, isolated the material and won a Nobel Prize in Physics for their work.
Flexible, Light & Conductive
Graphene is over 200 times stronger than steel and a million times thinner than a strand of hair. Made up of a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms, it’s only a single atom deep.
The material is renowned for being incredibly flexible, lightweight and conductive. It can also act as an ideal barrier, not even helium is able to pass through it.
It can be used for many purposes. Either as a single layer or as a stack of layers. It can also be mixed with other materials and liquids.
It has been dubbed ‘the material of the future’ and the opportunities it brings are seemingly limited only by the imagination.
The Economic Impact
It has been estimated that by 2020 the global market for items made from or using Graphene will equate to around £500 million.
What Is It Used for Today?
You can already find Graphene being used in wearable tech, tennis rackets and even lightbulbs. It’s also being developed for use in aircrafts, automobiles, buildings and energy storage. We’re expecting to see it boost efficiency and revolutionise current processes.
Entire markets are likely to open up to accommodate this material’s potential.
The Potential of Graphene
Graphene membranes could lead the material to transforming water purification technology in developing countries.
The highly conductive electrical and thermal properties could mean it helps to develop yet more markets. The electronics sector as well as healthcare, sports and defence will all benefit from Graphene.
The UK is a leading figure in the development of the material and will continue to benefit from its various innovations.