Newly published market analysis report on graphene.

The investment potential of graphene has recently been calculated by a leading financial analyst company. Investing in graphene, according to the financial research firm Technavio, is forecasted to produce a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58.7 per cent from 2015-2020. The report investigates the potential of the material within the semiconductor marketplace, and highlights some of the difficulties that must be bridged before graphene becomes an everyday material. The report is clear in suggesting that graphene sheets are set to replace the use of silicon semiconductors but asserts that the main area of concern currently lies in the high production costs.

The key questions addressed in the report are:

  • Market size in 2020 and rate of growth.
  • Market trends.
  • Market drivers and challenges.
  • Current levels of investment within the industry.
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current vendors in the graphene market.

With the chemical vapour deposition process used to make graphene being far more expensive than the methods used to make silicon semiconductors the graphene market is still very much in its infancy. However the report is unequivocal in identifying graphene as an excellent investment opportunity. With the market still in its early stages and with high levels of investment required to bring the technology to maturity the potential for share offers from smaller companies aiming to float on the stock exchange is tantalising.

Whether an investor chooses to wait and see who emerge as the lead producers in the market or whether they invest early and keep a close eye on share performance with the possibility of moving investments at a later date remains a perennial consideration, however, from the strength of this report it would seem clear that graphene will be a hard to beat investment for the next 10 years.

Graphene spin switches and magnetism

Investing in graphene just got another thumbs up. Researchers at Fudan University in China have just announced that a theoretical study of graphene has revealed the material’s suitability for the manufacture of spin switches. Spin switches rely on magnetic spin properties rather than electric charge to produce the kind of “valves” used in such advanced applications as hard disk drive read heads. Although it is not necessary to understand the science in order to make a well informed financial decision the news adds to the increasing number of research studies that suggest investing in graphene would be a prescient financial decision.

The researchers found that graphene nanoribbons maximise the unique edge properties of graphene to produce spin polarization. Their calculations show how the nanoribbons of two graphene islands form parallel and anti-parallel  polarizations with respect to each other depending on the amount of energy passed across them. The spin anti-aligned islands do not pass electrons across them, whilst the spin aligned islands do; such a clear mechanism of switching makes the graphene ideal for work in the emerging field of spintronics.

In addition, news from Japan suggests that researchers have found a way to produce a magnetism in graphene. The production of hydrogen terminated nanopores on a graphene sheet affects the spin value of the zigzag edges of the hioneycomb structure. The phenomenon occurs at room temperature and could one day be used to produce strong and light magnets and spintronic devices.

Sources: Tokyo institute of Tehnology.

What is Graphene?

It’s a natural enough question on a site dedicated to evaluating the investment potential of the 21st century’s sister to diamond.

Graphene was first discovered by the Nobel Laureate Professor Andre Geim whilst working at Manchester University. It is a 2D material made from sp2 bonded carbon atoms arranged hexagonally with only one atom depth. The arrangement of atoms allows electrons to move rapidly across the material  and the configuration provides the material with a surprising degree of strength.

The material was discovered whilst conducting experiments into carbon transistors with its infancy being in experiments involving graphite and scotch tape. Such inauspicious beginnings, however,  conceal the remarkable potential of the miracle material.

Potential uses for graphene include:

  • Transistors – Graphene based transistors are faster and more efficient than the standard silicon variety.
  • Gas Sensors – Single molecules landing on a sheet of graphene affect its conductivity, making it possible to have sensors with incredible precise detecting capabilities.
  • Support systems for Electron Microscopy – Graphene is so thin that it is effectively the world’s best material for use in an electron microscope as it can be easily differentiated from the diffraction patterns produced.
  • Coatings – Graphene is resistant to acids and alkalis and could therefore become the single atom thickness coating of the future. A Teflon for the 21st century.
  • Storing Hydrogen in fuel cells.
  • Sensors for the diagnosis of disease – researchers are working on using graphene along with DNA and fluorescent molecules to diagnose disease.

Other suggestions include its use in the production of ultra-strong but ultra-light aircraft, paper thin touch screens, a replacement for glass and use in microsurgery. Graphene is thought to be one of the strongest materials on earth, with a breaking strength 200 times that of steel; making it an ideal alternative material in the production of lighter, more fuel efficient and ecologically sound vehicles.  It also has anti-bacterial qualities and a degree of lightness and flexibility that suggest it could become a replacement for plastic in the food packaging market.

As new uses emerge it is almost certain that the material will become increasingly incorporated into technologies that currently form part of our everyday life. As recently as 2008 graphene was one of the most expensive materials on Earth, with a single, hairs breadth sample costing $100 (about $100,000/cm²). Improvements and scaling in the production technique have greatly reduced this price, making the product a more affordable option for industry.   The properties of graphene ensure that it will not be a flash in the pan; graphene is here to stay and therefore investing in this miracle material is a sound financial proposition.

 

For further information please take the time to watch Introducing Graphene – a short film from Cambridge University.

Nov 20th 2011

To get things moving I thought a fantasy investment might help to show how investing in graphene will result in the kind of profits every investor hopes for. With this in mind I will follow an imaginary investment of £1000/$1000 in a graphene company and a diamond company and record how the initial share purchase swells in size. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but only time will tell if graphene is the better investment.

Firstly, for diamonds I have chosen a company called paragon diamonds (LSE: PRG). This company operates within Africa as a holding company of both producing and exploration assets within the diamond industry. It owns the established Konoma diamond mine in Sierra Leone and has licences to mine in West Africa and to explore in Tanzania. An estimated resource of 119000 carats has been  suggested for the mine in Sierra Leone.

The price of a single share in Paragon Diamonds cost 28.75p on 20/11/2011, so an initial investment of £1000 would buy a total of 3 478 shares.

For graphene I have chosen CVD Equipment Corporation, (NASDAQ: CVV) a company that is determined to invest in the graphene revolution and whose share price is already showing signs of reward for this strategy. The company is working in partnership with Graphene Labs at Colombia University and trades graphene online from graphene-supermarket.com.

I will provide a weekly update on the share price of each company and track how the investments compare. Next update, 27/11/2011

The price of a single share in CVD Equipment Corporation costs $16.44 on 20/11/2011, so an initial investment of $1000 would buy a total of  61 shares.

Now obviously a £ and a $ are not of equal value so we are not comparing like for like in terms of initial investment, however, because the rate of exchange will vary over time a direct conversion from one currency to another would be unnecessarily complex. What we aim to see is the percentage change resulting from the investment, or to put it more prosaically, whether the apple or the pear will grow the fastest. I anticipate that investing in graphene will, in time, produce the most dramatic results.

Graphene stocks to watch

Investing in Graphene

Investing in graphene is a sure-fire way to gain a foothold in the miracle technologies of tomorrow. Just as the rare earth metals tantalum and niobium became the must have stocks of the noughties so too will graphene become the materials stock of the next 30 years. A material integral to the development of nanotechnology the British Government was so convinced of its potential in 2011 that they themselves pledged to invest £50 million in the development of the substance and in the technologies that will be transformed by it. Identifying the companies most likely to benefit from this massive level of investment is the first step in profiting from the graphene revolution. Choose the right stock at the right time and you’ll find that profits will soon follow.

Choosing the right stock.

Understanding long term and short term aims is key to making the correct decision in this emerging market. Any strategy of short term profit making will include identifying and buying into companies likely to receive an investment boost and then trading on the increase in share price once the investment in announced. Simple. Longer term aims are slightly more difficult to outline and will differ from investor to investor, however thstrength can be found in trading in smaller companies with a research performance that larger companies are likely to make a take-over bid on. Consistent share performance, an excellent PR office and management team, and a clear strategy which points to the possibility of a future buy-out are all signs to look out for.

In the short term, the British government has made its intention clear with respect to its investment plans; £50 million pledge for investment, and the largest slice of that being offered to companies based in Manchester. Why Manchester? Well, Manchester is the home of graphene, it is the University where the substance was first developed and the home of the Nobel prize winning team of scientists currently engaged in researching and developing graphene for use. Find a company working on graphene from one of Manchester’s research parks and you’ll find a company vying for a slice of that government pie.

Longer term investment opportunities that have caused some market noise include CVD Equipment Corp (NASDAQ:CVV), Northern Graphite (CVE: NGC) and POSCO (NYSE: PKX) What to do now. If you have never traded before the very first thing you should do is select a trading platform and learn how to place a trade. Learn the features of the platform and become familiar with the way information is presented on screen.