New “Miracle Material” to Replace Silicon

Scientist and engineers around the world searching for a way to increase computing power in electronics are looking to the “miracle material” graphene, which is thought to replace silicon in the next five years because of its astonishing ability to out-perform current semiconductors, its strength, flexibility and cost.

According to a report published by Reuters; graphene is a one atom thick, which makes it the thinnest material ever discovered. It is a sheet of bonded carbon atoms densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice. Graphene is highly conductive, conducting both heat and electricity better than any other material, including copper, and it is also stronger than diamond.

The  University of Technology in Sydney  recently unveiled a new type of graphene nano paper that is ten times stronger than a sheet of steel. Composed of processed and pressed graphite, the material is as thin as a sheet of paper yet incredible durable — this strength and thinness gives it remarkable applications in many industries, and it is completely recyclable to boot. (Zimmer, 2011)

The uses of graphene are being compared to that of plastic; it will vary in shape, form and flexibility. It is thought that this new material will lower the price of things such as golf clubs, bio medical products, electronics and automobiles.

The major obstacle right now is the funding for R & D of graphene. But it is thought, that once this is overcome and graphene is placed on the market, it should cause for less expensive electronics. “Graphite is an abundant natural mineral and one of the stiffest materials found in nature (Young's Modulus of approximately 1060 gigaPascals (gPa)) with excellent electrical and thermal conductivity. It has better mechanical, thermal and electrical properties and lower density compared to clays. The lower cost of crystalline graphite ($1.5 U.S. dollars per pound ($/lb) to $1.6/lb and less than $5/lb for graphite nanoplatelets) compared to other conductive fillers, such as carbon nanotubes (about $100 per gram ($/g)), vapor grown carbon fibers (VGCF, $40/lb to $50/lb) and carbon fibers (about $5/lb to $6/lb), as well as graphite's superior mechanical properties compared to those of carbon black, makes graphite an attractive alternative for commercial applications that require both physical-mechanical property improvement and electrical conductivity of the final product.” (Nextbigfuture, 2011)

It can only be wondered what will happen to the world of technology and consumer electronics if and when this product is developed further and placed into our marketplace.

~From my techie cloud to yours

Michelle Emahiser-Allen

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