Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Will Graphene Revolutionize the 21st Century? 345

Posted by samzenpus
from the step-right-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Much has been made of graphene's potential. It can be used for anything from composite materials — like how carbon-fiber is used currently — to electronics. 'Our research establishes Graphene as the strongest material ever measured, some 200 times stronger than structural steel,' mechanical engineering professor James Hone, of Columbia University, said in a statement. If graphene can be compared to the way plastic is used today, everything from crisp packets to clothing could be digitized once the technology is established. The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Will Graphene Revolutionize the 21st Century?

Comments Filter:
  • Wolverine? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tobenisstinky (853306) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:12PM (#36210350)

    How does that compare to Adamantium?

  • by Btrot69 (1479283) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:14PM (#36210364)

    Its probably got lots of other great uses, but the one I think of most is that its strong enough to make cables for a space elevator. That alone would be revolutionary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by aurizon (122550)

      There is merit in this, as the Space Elevator concept would allow a low cost per pound into space, once the first cost is paid off. There has been a lot of chatter about this in the past, but until now, no material was ever up to the task. One problem was the inability of strong fine filaments to be bound into bundles and still keep their strength - a problem graphene may also encounter. A more down to earth application is unopenable crisp(potato chip) packets to be used as a diet aid for fatties, providing

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @04:51PM (#36211516) Homepage

        That's cruel.

        The packets don't have to be unopenable, it just has to take more energy to open them than you'll get from eating the contents.

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)

        The space elevator has merit for getting into equatorial and escape orbits. While that would be a boon for the large communications and observation satellites in geostationary, LEO satellites are largely at high inclinations. It would cost more in delta-v to take a satellite up on a space elevator and attempt a plane transfer into polar orbit, than it would be to simply launch directly from Earth. Your best bet might be to travel well out past geostationary, using the elevator as a whip to launch you int

  • by Xacid (560407) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:17PM (#36210386) Journal

    Personally I think there's a lot of potential with it. However, I'm curious if it's going to end up being something like asbestos that makes it a bittersweet kind of substance.

    I do think we need something to propel our sciences forward to "the next level (tm)" and graphene just may help get us there.

  • The future (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:18PM (#36210394) Homepage

    "The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone."

    So I'll have to wait 5 minutes before my credit card finally has booted?

    • by sosume (680416)

      I see smartphones becoming the size of a credit card within the next 10 years, graphene or no graphene.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        I see smartphones becoming the size of a credit card within the next 10 years, graphene or no graphene.

        Is that credit card-sized smartphone going to come with microscopic vision enhancement and more compact finger-tips? I hope the advances are in power life and lower cost rather than making them teeny-tiny.

        • by sco08y (615665)

          I see smartphones becoming the size of a credit card within the next 10 years, graphene or no graphene.

          Is that credit card-sized smartphone going to come with microscopic vision enhancement and more compact finger-tips? I hope the advances are in power life and lower cost rather than making them teeny-tiny.

          At that point, why not just build the phone into the headset and do it all by voice control, with possibly a laser keypad as an alternate.

          I could see that doing most communications and even driving directions. If you had bluetooth receivers in cars, it could play music most times you want it to.

    • In my opinion, smartphones have too much processing power as it is. Will these credit cards be able to stream HD video and run apps, but be serious overkill for actually making purchases?
      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        You pull out your credit card to make a purchase and out of its speaker comes "Good Morning SilverHatHacker! What a beautiful day it is! I see that you are at a Walmart store location. Would you like to hear about special Walmart promotional offers that are exclusive to this MasterSmartCard? Just look at all the wonderful things that you can save money on today! Tap the information icon on any one of these exciting offers!"
      • by Fuzzums (250400)

        SUDDENLY a voice comes out of your pocket. It's your credit card shouting at you!
        HEY YOU!! People who bought that e-book also bought that other e-book. What do you think you're doing here? Go back to that site and buy that other e-book as well!!!

  • Nope (Score:3, Interesting)

    by papabob (1211684) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:18PM (#36210400)
    an industrial revolution, by definition, came by things completely unexpected. Laser, silicon, etc. When grapehene can be produced massively it will already be "the Next Big Thing in 5-10 years" for the previous 50 years.
  • by sfranklin (95470) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:19PM (#36210404) Journal

    At the end of the article: "But the main thing is to be truthful and not exaggerate because we actually have to deliver." When there are some real-world examples, then graphene will be worth reading about.

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:21PM (#36210420)

    Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
    Ben: Yes sir.
    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
    Ben: Yes I am.
    Mr. McGuire: Graphene.
    Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
    Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in graphene. Think about it. Will you think about it?
    Ben: Yes I will.
    Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.

  • by michelcolman (1208008) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:24PM (#36210448)
    Don't smartphones already have all their processing power contained inside something smaller than a credit card? The rest is just battery, screen, antenna,...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Basically yes.

      The battery and the screen eat up the most space. The antenna is, thanks to Nokia, folded into a much smaller space (AFAIK they have a patent on this).

  • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:28PM (#36210470) Homepage
    ...because the difference between graphene and graphite is that graphene is one atom thick, bypassing the sheet-on-sheet sliding that makes graphite such a wonderful lubricant. If you want multiple sheets to be used in a material and still have some structural stability, you have to cross-link the atoms, which just gives you diamond (or amorphous carbon, if it's half-assed).

    No, if graphene is the material of the 21st century, it will be entirely because of its electronic properties, not the mechanical.
  • Ultracapacitors (Score:5, Informative)

    by Suiggy (1544213) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:30PM (#36210480)

    I personally can't wait for graphene based ultracapacitors. They're reaching capacitances of 100,000 farads/kg in the lab which is just absolutely insane for a capacitor.

    • Re:Ultracapacitors (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CODiNE (27417) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @03:31PM (#36210936) Homepage

      That's what I love so much about graphene. It was just sitting there all those years and nobody thought of it. I remember being in electronics class years ago when we calculated the size of a capacitor that could power an electric car for a certain distance. It was HUGE. Yet we all knew the formula for capacitance and nobody came up with even ultracapacitors. Finally with graphene capacitors are going to get an incredible leap in what they can do... and all that time it was right under our noses.

      • Literally. Pencil lead!

        8)

      • by tyrione (134248)

        That's what I love so much about graphene. It was just sitting there all those years and nobody thought of it. I remember being in electronics class years ago when we calculated the size of a capacitor that could power an electric car for a certain distance. It was HUGE. Yet we all knew the formula for capacitance and nobody came up with even ultracapacitors. Finally with graphene capacitors are going to get an incredible leap in what they can do... and all that time it was right under our noses.

        The power of the Universe is right under our noses. We're not so much as inventing technology as we are inventing our first awareness that it has been there all along.

    • by aurizon (122550)

      ultracapacitors can beat batteries in speed, but not in capacity. They are inherently inferior to batteries in charge storage because the batteries actually change a bulk material through a chemical state to store/release electrons, and since you cannot release the ones on the bottom before the top ones are changed = a practical limit. You can make batteries with huge surface areas but they suffer from dendritic grown that penetrates the insulation on repeated charge/discharge cycles. Preventing dendritic

  • by gone.fishing (213219) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:37PM (#36210518) Journal

    I think graphene will probably fulfill some promises and fall flat with others. Since carbon (which graphene is) is a semiconductor I am more hopeful for it to become an efficient electronic resource. Because it is a semiconductor, I am less hopeful that it will become a better battery (carbon has been used in batteries for years but it's electrical leakage eventually drains an unused battery). As a material I expect that it will have the same shortcomings that carbon fiber has - in order to be strongest it needs to be pure which has proven difficult to achieve and therefore expensive. Graphene itself is expensive to manufacture. Is it even possible to chain it together to make long chains of it? I don't know but do know it is hard to do it with carbon fiber. What are the health consequences of making it, using it, or wearing it? So many things seem promising but end up being very bad (asbestos, lead, VOC's) that I am not sure it will launch. Seems like a submicroscopic sharp hard item may cause problems in the lungs.

  • Do I remember correctly if I remember a a Slashdot article with a link to a short film of a man pulling graphene from a solid carbon piece, like Scotch tape? At the time I thought it was fake, but as time went I realized it was for real. Graphene is way cool, and would be nice to find and see that clip again!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:46PM (#36210572)

    Wait for the patent trolls to join the party and tell me which century this will revolutionize.

  • by Bender_ (179208) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:59PM (#36210670) Journal

    A few years ago all the rage was about carbon nanotubes. An entire generation of phd students was raised on this material. Carbon nanotubes were the material of the future, enabling the space elevator, nanoscale transistors, near-superconductor conductivity and so on. What is left today?

    Even before that there were C60 buckyballs, another previously unnoticed carbon allotrope. Buckyballs were set to revolutionize chemistry and were (are) part of n-type organic semicunductors. What is left today?

    A fad is a fad, even in science. Of all the imagined applications a few will remain, and will be turned into real applications by technologists and engineers. The scientists will move on to the next fad - well at least those who are quick enough.

    • Orrrrrr......you are just not involved in the field so you are completely unaware of what is going on post sensationalist-journalist phase.

    • by gront (594175)
      All of the structures are related. Graphene is the one atom thick sheet stuff. Nanotubes are the sheets rolled into... tubes. Buckyballs are the sheets in a ball. Each has its its purpose: Graphene is a great conductor and really strong in two dimensions, Nanotubes are also great transmitters of heat and electricity in one dimension, and buckyballs can in theory be used for medicines, abrasives, or little tiny bearings. http://cnx.org/content/m14355/latest/ [cnx.org]

      all of this is relatively new, but having a way to

  • Within say 10-20 years most of Norway will have fiber everywhere - 12% had it last year and they're wiring all over the place, I heard some claim 35% by 2015 though that sounded a bit optimistic. No more last mile problems, you could send gigabits to every house. HDTV streaming to every room in the building @ BluRay quality? Can do. Webcams the quality of full HD video cameras? Can do. High quality multi-channel video conferencing? Can do. The future is a world where bandwidth is truly approaching almost fr

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      And hopefully we'll see the end of "TV networks" and regional restrictions as we know it.

      That might bodes ill for local Nordic productions. The only reason that the Nordic countries can produce such high-quality programming (I loved your Uti vaar hage!) for such a small population and keep a healthy amount of fine arts on the air is because of the license fees. There's talk in Finland of just taxing everyone a certain amount regardless of whether they declare ownership of a television or not, but without s

  • by shoppa (464619) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @03:07PM (#36210752)

    The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone.

    If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside. -- Robert X. Cringley

  • Dr Michio Kaku raves about graphene a lot.. He did mention using it to make a Dyson phere (of the capture all the energy of the sun kind, not necessarily the live on like Shaw's Orbitsville kind.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @03:46PM (#36211068)

    The article cited a lot of facts, theory and experimental work being done, but not one item about a physical product used in production.

    "Will Graphene Revolutionize the 21st Century?": The answer is cost effective applications of graphene will be the sole determinant.

  • I propose a game: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @03:50PM (#36211098) Journal
    The game is called "The Cynic's 4 Color Puzzle".

    1. Obtain an outline map of the world, preferably black and white.

    2. Select four colors. 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    3. Fill all areas of the world that you expect to be nigh-unimaginably futuristic(routine occurrence of transhumans, strong AIs, kilometer high metamaterial structures, etc.) in 2061 with color 1.

    4. Fill all areas of the world that you expect to be surprisingly mundane in 2061, except for a few of those wacky details that futurists never get right(everybody is still working in cubicles and flying aging 787s; but something as unexpected as facebook would have been in 1950 occupies 30% of the cube-dweller's time), with color 2.

    5. Fill all areas of the world that will still be "developing" in 2061(the local elites will have access to everything from the color 2 zones, and color 1s, if present; but the bulk of the populace will still be mired in such classics as mud farming, Kalashnikovs, and nokias) with color 3.

    6. Fill all areas of the world that will be radically dystopian and/or uninhabitable for cool reasons(radical climate shifts/flooding, nanite plague, biotech advances make new strains of smallpox and anthrax and friends as common as new malware is today, etc.) with color 4.

    7. Argue at length about one another's maps.
    • by sgtrock (191182)
      Make sure you study the historical trends documented at http://www.gapminder.org/ [gapminder.org]>Gapminder.Org before beginning your coloring. :-)
    • by funkatron (912521)

      OK, lets play

      1. Barcelona (I like Barcelona), Camden (it thinks it's there already), my house, Japan

      2. Isle of Wight, Hollywood, Antarctica

      3. New Jersey, Middle East

      4. 30 Millbank (I'm an optimist)

      What do I win?

  • by hedgemage (934558) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @05:02PM (#36211606)
    "According to the Nobel prize committee, a hypothetical one-metre-square hammock of perfect graphene could support a four-kilogram cat - the hammock would weigh 0.77 milligrams, less than a cat's whisker, and would be virtually invisible." - Richard Van Noorden, Nature Magazine

    I'm glad that someone is addressing the need for invisible cat hammocks. FINALLY!
  • Conductor issues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xeranar (2029624) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @05:27PM (#36211762)

    The article makes a rudimentary statement about graphene and fails to acknowledge that it is a conductor and not a semiconductor. That limits some of its use without using it in a complex composite to create a limited semiconductor material. As it stands now though graphene would be excellent for power transfer and screen technology. I think it will certainly establish a change in the way technology is used as chips grow smaller and screens grow larger and more flexible. We could see folding screens in a few years which would be an amazing improvement over our current systems. Laptops could be equipped with unfolding screens. Smartphones could so the same. Home theaters could become portable in a quite interesting and unique way.

    In other words, it will revolutionize the 21st century as our viewing technology makes a giant leap forward but silicon is going to be the dominant semiconductor for atleast the next decade or so while they work out a graphene composite that can cut some of its conductor properties. But graphene could be the answer to the wall viewers, curved displays, and other super-sized designs.

  • by cjonslashdot (904508) on Monday May 23, 2011 @09:27AM (#36216586)

    "The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone."

    Heaven help us. Then literally nothing will work anymore. I shudder every time I use a "smart" appliance. To me, a "smart" appliance - one with an embedded computer - is something that needs occasional reboots, contains concurrency bugs and therefore gets into undefined states ("frozen"), second guess incorrectly about what I want it to do, needs to be recharged and have its batteries replaced, is vulnerable to hacking, needs continual updates, needs to be "managed" in various ways, and is generally not reliable enough to trust. Smart appliances make life miserable. Unless we can radically change the way that we program these things, to alleviate these ills, a world in which everything is a "smart" appliance is a frustrating world in which nothing works anymore.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

Working...