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Will Graphene Revolutionize the 21st Century? 345

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."
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Will Graphene Revolutionize the 21st Century?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 22, 2011 @02:27PM (#36210464)

    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).

  • 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.

  • Can't you roll up graphene sheets like rolling up a sheet of paper, or multiple sheets of paper?

    Yes, that would be carbon nano-tubes. However last time [] we played around with tiny incredible strong tubes that didn't turn out to well. Have to wait and see how things work out for carbon nanotubes.

  • by gront ( 594175 ) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @03:27PM (#36210890)
    Graphene ribbons respond very well to changes in voltage making them very nifty (possibly) for transistors. Great flow when you want it in a controllable way. The main issue being that they don't have a very good "off" state. So you get a nice curve of voltage v. current flowing across them, except for the middle part around 0V. That's what everyone is working on. [] []
  • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @03:47PM (#36211078)

    "Asteroids, you fucking moron."

    Do you *really* mean stablishing a self-suficient colony on an asteroid? Because that's what we were talking about.

    And then again, what do you expect to get from an asteroid that would mean such a big difference for us down here on Earth? And if you talk about mining asteroids for our outer colonies you go back to square one again: it'll take a bit more than graphene to stablish a self-sufficient colony anywhere in the Solar system. And as long as you are not talking about a self-sufficient colony you still haven't broken ties to big old Earth.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @04:45PM (#36211454)
    Wow, you really don't know much, do you?

    A space elevator here would allow us to have daily launches to Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, using basically no fuel (using the Earth's angular momentum). SImilar space elevators could be built on the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter's moons, meaning we could then use them to fling material back to Earth. Multiple elevators==dozens or hundreds of launches per day, and with a properly designed elevator, literally no fuel expended (ie one that unfurls continuously from the ground--this will be possible with new methods of mass production of graphene coming online now that are controlled by air flow, and can thus be made continuously).

    Christ, you sound like a Jester in the court of Isabella making fun of Columbus for wanting to go to an empty continent. Even empty, it is a giant virgin mine waiting to be tapped. Colonies will form there quickly enough with regular travel established.

    And debris at LEO are no problem, any more than they are for current ships. You will need to maneuver the ribbon around the debris while a lifter is going up. The rest of the time, they can just be allowed to impact the ribbon, as it is basically bulletproof.

  • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @04:58PM (#36211572)

    Technically, that would be two-stage to orbit, with the first stage being the 'jettisoned' launch rail. You can't just 'pull back' once you hit the end of the rail. At hypersonic speeds, you would spend tens of seconds in low, dense atmosphere doing so, and would bleed off much of your initial launch energy. If you instead use a vertical rail, you would need depths of tens of miles in order to achieve the speeds needed for a a scramjet to operate without imposing too high acceleration on the crew.

    Mass driver/scramjet launches are a possibility for cargo loads, but unless we come up with some form of artificial gravity, they could never be used for manned launches.

  • by Ironhandx ( 1762146 ) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @05:14PM (#36211694)

    Heres the thing: If it wasn't for anti-nuclear nutjobs, which they couldn't predict, those promises would probably be a reality by now. We're about 15-20 years behind in nuclear power research due to anti-nuclear nutjobs preventing funding of new more efficient, less dangerous nuclear plants.

    Funny part is, those same nutjobs are the ones that are also responsible for keeping the old, less-safe designs going, as there is nothing to replace them.

  • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Sunday May 22, 2011 @07:03PM (#36212320)
    You don't understand. It's not like an airplane that you can deflect off the atmosphere. In two-body mechanics, the only way to change plane is direct thrusting with the engines. Gravity potential and aerodynamic losses of a LEO launch are only going to cost about 15% of the total delta-v budget. The rest is going to go into achieving orbital velocity. During a 90 plane change, your budget will be roughly 1.4 times your orbital velocity. Thus, a 90 plane change will be roughly 20% more expensive than getting to the same orbit from the ground. Note that is expense rated in delta-v, and actual fuel costs will be measured exponentially from that. Add into that your not-insignificant insertion burn coming off the elevator, and there's simply no purpose to it.

VMS must die!