It?s a whole new definition of organic, and if big-money business folks are correct, it?s going to be way tastier than the most mouth-watering summer fruit at the trendiest farmers market.
Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, sometimes referred to as a crystal, may be the hottest material you?ve never heard of. But you will soon, trust me.
It?s strong, it?s flexible, it?s lightweight, it?s practically impermeable, and nearly transparent. And it?s so thin that it is sometimes referred to as being 2-dimensional.
Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for producing, isolating, identifying and characterizing graphene, although a San Diego television station credits its actual discovery to 1987 or even 1962.
According to Seeking Alpha, graphene is ?a single layer of graphite carbon atoms, making it the thinnest and toughest material ever created. It is also much more conductive than copper and as flexible as rubber. All these qualities offer huge promises for a large number of applications, from IT & consumer electronics to energy, aerospace, medicine … and to 3-D printing!?
Others say graphene could be the successor to silicon (as in Valley).
Stratasys (owner of MakerBot, manufacturer of affordable 3D printers) recently partnered with five-year-old Northern California company Graphene Technologies to develop graphene-enhanced 3D printing materials.
This follows an agreement reached a few months ago by graphite exploration company Lomiko Metals Inc. of Vancouver and Graphene Laboratories of Calverton, N.Y.to launch Graphene 3D Labs specifically for the development of graphene-based 3D printing materials.
Of course, caution is in order as with anything still in research and development. Not everything translates smoothly from the laboratory to the factory. But excitement ? and investment ? keeps building around what many are calling a disruptive technology that one day could easily rival the importance of plastic (cue the famed scene from ?The Graduate? here).
At least that?s the view of Jon Mabbitt, CEO of Applied Graphene Materials in northeast England, who says cost concerns can be overcome by, for example, synthesizing graphene from alcohol as his company is doing to produce a ton per year, albeit not in the sheet form favored by the consumer electronics industry. Graphnea is yet another promising firm working on graphene production, this one on the continent, based in San Sebastian, Spain, in the Nanotechnology Research Center CIC nanoGUNE.
For more on the science involved, here?s a recent read: