The "Miracle Material" That Will Change the World
Source: Michael A. Robinson, Money Morning (12/2/11)
"Stronger than steel and lighter than a feather, [graphene] will shape virtually every part of our daily lives by the end of this decade. The possible uses are almost limitless."
A radical new material made from a single carbon atom will soon have a pervasive impact on the U.S. economy—and the entire human race.
Stronger than steel and lighter than a feather, this high-tech medium will shape virtually every part of our daily lives by the end of this decade.
The possible uses are almost limitless.
No wonder the two scientists who discovered this substance won the Nobel Prize in physics last year. That alone should tell you something.
It often takes decades for scientific breakthroughs like this to bag the world's biggest award. But these two Russians won it for a substance discovered just seven years ago.
The material that I'm talking about is called "graphene." And you might have guessed, graphene is related to the graphite used in pencils.
Graphene: The Miracle Material
If you've never before heard of graphene, don't worry—most investors haven't.
In fact, most investors have never seen anything quite like this new miracle material.
But it won't be long before you're benefiting from its potential.
Even as you read this, researchers and scientists are looking for ways to transform this discovery into the "Next Big Thing."
Indeed, my Pentagon sources say military leaders want to learn how graphene will lead to victory on the battlefields of the future. Tech leaders such as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. hope graphene will be the foundation of the next generation of cutting-edge products.
And we can already see how graphene will spawn a true revolution in wireless communications.
We'll soon be able to launch satellites that are the size of skyscrapers—but that weigh less than your patio barbecue grill.
You'll download hi-def video to your smartphone in nanoseconds. If you want to know who'll win the current marketplace smartphone brawl, watch who makes the best use of graphene.
Then there's biotech.
Thanks to graphene, doctors will be able to use high doses of new drugs that are lethal to cancer cells—without getting you sick or harming healthy cells.
They'll use the substance to make synthetic blood. We'll no longer have to fret about whether supplies are infected by a deadly virus, or waste precious minutes matching rare blood types.
Graphene could serve as a miracle panacea for an aging America.
Though we're already living longer and fuller lives, the reality is that millions of us still face age-related health problems. But thanks to a scientist at Wayne State University, doctors may someday be able to combat Alzheimer's by inserting graphene electrodes into a patient's brain.
While current devices last only a few months, the Wayne State researcher believes his implants will last as long as five years—improving the quality of life for millions.
Other graphene implants will target spinal cord injuries, and even blindness.
Just three weeks ago, researchers at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio said a form of graphene could be used to grow human tissue. The ramifications are huge: Lab-grown human hearts that can last, disease-free, for 100 years may one day help children with birth defects or adults with heart disease.
The air force team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base listed a wide range of other uses. These include making a new class of drugs, as well as growing organisms that can yield bio-green energy.
Meantime, graphene will make the U.S. military even more effective. Our soldiers will use "invisibility cloaks" to make tanks and jeeps "disappear" from enemy view.
Last month, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas used carbon nanotubes to hide objects in plain sight. Funded by the Pentagon, the scientists found that bending light in certain ways created the "mirage" that objects weren't really there.
Given those insights, just think what graphene can do for computing. By the end of this decade you'll have the power of 10,000 mainframes in the palm of your hand.
Last year, scientists at the Rensselaer Institute in Troy, NY, cleared a big hurdle in nanoelectronics. The researchers proved they could transform ultrathin sheets of graphene into tiny transistors, forming the basis of the computers and solid-state nanocircuits of the future.
Even your revolutionary flat-screen TV could become obsolete—thanks to a graphene-based LED screen that's as thin as Saran Wrap. But think of the benefits: You'll be able to roll up your giant TV, take it to a friend's house, and hang it on the wall to watch the Super Bowl.
Remaining Challenges Will Keep it Interesting
Naturally, there are still problems to be solved, and obstacles to be hurdled before graphene can become a household name. To this point, for instance, researchers haven't figured out an easy way to use graphene as the basis for robust electrical devices.
But I am confident we'll solve this problem.
How can I be so sure? Last September, a team in the United Kingdom discovered that graphene could yield "perfect" solar cells. Turns out these panels absorb a much wider range of light than existing panels, greatly improving the payoff from the sun.
And that's not all. This same group of researchers found that graphene could have a radical impact on computing and communications. The reason: The material outperforms silicon for semiconductors and can be tailored for systems that use light—rather than electricity—to relay voice, video and data. My money's on this team. The reason I feel this way: This U.K.-based research team includes the two Nobel laureates I mentioned earlier.
If any one can visualize the potential power of graphene, it's these two guys.
And if anyone knows about the "Era of Radical Change," it's Money Morning.
Michael A. Robinson, Money Morning http://www.theaureport.com/pub/na/11882