Investing in graphene has become one of the trendiest topics in scientific and financial forums. It is talked about as being a “wonder material,” and the potential replacement for silicon in the production of computer chips. Where Silicon Valley once reigned supreme expect to see a Graphene Valley in thirty years time.
Graphene is the material du jour, and the subject of more research papers each year than any other material. It is known for the sheer quantity of its superlative qualities, for its strength, its conductance, its photovotaic properties and for the fact that it is a nanoscale allotrope of carbon. But, what is graphene?
Graphene is a two dimensional allotrope of carbon. It exists in a single plane, and is formed from a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern. It is actually a relative of graphite, a single layer of the “lead” in pencils, but because of its nanoscale nature it inherits a strange set of quantum behaviours that graphite does not possess.
It can be produced by either top down exfoliation of graphite, or through a bottom up process of chemical vapour deposition; each method results in a slightly different form of the material. Recent advances have even seen the substance being made from the respiration of bacteria on a specially treated surface of graphene oxide, and by using dry-ice as a starting point.
The sheer variety of these production methods makes investing in graphene production a difficult investment proposition, since no-one knows which method will become the most successful. It is a problem that increases the risk of investing but which also could potentially result in the greatest profit potential. Investment in early stage technology invariably produces this problem and so it is not an uncommon dilemma to face.
However, side stepping the issue of production for the moment, one possible area of investment that can be anticipated is the use of graphene in the production of consumer products. Graphene’s unique properties make it likely that it will be used to produce highly efficient solar panels in the near future, super strong composite materials, and possibly computer chips. IBM has already announced the first graphene transistor and it is only a question of time before full production of graphene chips becomes a reality. Therefore the best option for investing in graphene is to learn a little bit more about the science of graphene, identify a product that interests you the most and find a company that is currently holding patents in that field.
The graphene revolution is set to occur soon, and the early stages are in fact happening right now. Be sure to get in early and then out before the next big thing arises, and you find yourself making the best investment decision of your life. In answer to the question “what is graphene?” you might as easily say the future’s in nanotechnology and the very heart of nanotechnology is graphene.