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article imageOp-Ed: Graphene grows up – Epigraphene major breakthrough

By Paul Wallis     Nov 29, 2018 in Technology
Gothenburg - Graphene isn't exactly the Cinderella of new materials, but it is still in its technological infancy/adolescence. A new type of graphene, epitaxial layered epigraphene, has emerged. This is a game changer, and it's going to be interesting.
A press release I received from Chalmers University of Technology rather modestly implies, rather than states, that the new material is basically everything graphene needs to be. The new molecular Dirac crystal layer which manages electronic capacity is 100% consistent, with far superior structuring than older types of graphene.
Since graphene as a class of materials is generally considered to be the material of the future for everything from electronics to bullet-proof vests, this is roughly the equivalent of Stone Age people suddenly figuring out that flints can be used for doing something other than tripping over. The new molecular methodology isn't particularly complex, in fact, it's quite easy to understand in terms of critical basics, but it is very significant.
Chalmers University of Technology
Previous versions of graphene have been pretty much all over the place in terms of electronic capacity. In precision electronics, that is simply not good enough. The need is for high-capacity, well-organised, "atomically thin” Dirac crystals, perfectly spaced, to deliver good electronic capacity. That is exactly what epitaxial layered epigraphene does.
What's so important about this new structuring? You’re about to find out
Materials science is a very strange ballpark. Whole new classes of materials and an incredible volume of research have been happening for years, and every so often something incredibly significant turns up.
The bottom line for new materials is brutally efficient – What makes commercial sense? Epitaxial layered epigraphene make sense in so many ways that it's really rather astonishing. This very highly structured material, by rights should be able to do anything. The problem has been getting consistent materials to manage electronic capacity.
From the look of the molecular structure, this new version of epigraphene is a Babe Ruth classic level home run. This is a case where the ballpark may actually need to be adjusted to manage the new developments.
To explain:
1. This is a polymer-based material. That means it can be used in 3D printing, graphene 3D printing is already thundering in to the mainstream market) applied to practically anything and customised to just about any application.
2. The commercial potential of epitaxial layered epigraphene (my voice to text just wrote that as "happy graphene") is mind boggling. If this can be put into production, it could solve a hell of a lot of design problems for engineers, create electronic capacity where it can't be used at the moment, and generally make itself useful throughout the whole of modern technologies.
3. Also bear in mind that this is the very first iteration of this type of layered epigraphene. Multiple layers are an obvious next move, quite possibly followed by specialised crystals, etc et cetera. Looks to me like fire has just been invented and nobody has quite figured it out yet.
Meanwhile, expect just about every technology you have to be completely physically transformed in about the next 10 years. It will be worth watching.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about epigraphene, Graphene, electronic capacity of graphene, Dirac crystal layering, Chalmers University of Technology
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