The future of carbon based electronics is a future with graphene investment at the very centre a recent Forbes article, by the Director of Physical Sciences at IBM, declares.
For regular readers of this website, and for those prescient enough to have realised the market potential of the revolution in carbon based science, the news of carbon’s arrival as the element of the future is hardly news at all. However, only a fool would dismiss the words of Supratik Guha, IBM’s graphene guru and the man with as close an eye on the business and science of graphene investment as anyone could hope to have.
So, what does he have to say.
For starters Guha is absolutely convinced that graphene and carbon nanotubes will shape our future in the way that silicon shaped it sixty years ago. With potential applications already identified that include integrated circuits, energy storage and conversion, biomedical sensing and DNA sequencing, Guha is confident enough to claim that,
” No material since silicon (and perhaps steel) has seen such diverse possibilities, and few appear to be endowed with the attractive electronic, optical, and mechanical properties that graphene and nanotubes are reported to possess… most researchers feel that these materials will eventually lead us to a convergence of computing, sensing, communications, and consumer electronics.”
An impressive role call of qualities and uses that will be familiar to many. The graphene revolution is all but about to happen, and with it being in its nascent state the chances are that we can only, at present, appreciate a fraction of the material’s full potential.
Without doubt the science of carbon electronics is a global phenomenon, with Europe, Asia and the US making advances in many different areas. Yet is it possible that we will see a shrinking of global activity and the emergence of the US as the graphene superpower that holds the most patents and harvests the biggest rewards. Well, according to Guha, the dominance of the US has already begun. America funds more extensively and publishes more regularly than any other nation, and this level of investment, in terms of time and money, is sure to be rewarded with market dominance as the science moves towards industrial application. As Guha notes,
The bulk of the research today is carried out in the United States–a look at any major peer reviewed journal that covers nanotechnology confirms this. Most of the working electronic circuits, however primitive, have been built in US labs. The United States leads the world in carbon research today and the government’s investment in carbon nanotechnology is of the order of about $100 million a year, distributed across universities, government and industrial laboratories. Private industry has also invested in the field. Over the past fifteen years, IBM has funded a well-sized research program on carbon nanotubes and graphene to investigate both the science as well as develop intellectual property for using these materials in integrated circuits.
Guha’s timeline for the move towards graphene technology and application is ten years. That’s ten years of discovery and refinement, ten years of improving production techniques and ten years of assessing the impact of large scale graphene technology. What this means for the investor is that there is the potential for huge gains but also the risk of selecting and investing in a company whose work tails off into a blind avenue. It goes without saying, therefore, that maximising the profit potential of any graphene investment involves the exercise of good research and the making of judicious choices.
But surely that is the exciting part of investing; the discovery of new things, the uncertainty of the market, the promise of reward. Investing in graphene means much more than a yearly dividend, it holds a story of riches, opportunity and the pursuit of science that will impress our children and grandchildren in years to come.
Supratik Guha’s article can be found here