Is the so-called ’wonder material’ graphene destined only to be the Jack of all Trades, and the Master of none?
Graphene, graphene, graphene - its ubiquity and seemingly endless potential means that if it ever comes of age, it better have been worth the wait.
This year alone, laboratorytalk.com has covered graphene, and nanomaterial-related news, on an increasingly frequent basis - such is its monopoly on the ’wonder materials’ market.
“Graphene looks set to be the ’Jack of all Trades’….…will it ever be Master?
However, for graphene to be the success story it is so often touted as, it first must be mass-produced at an affordable price.
But therein lies the problem.
Graphene centres, particularly within the UK, are still a relatively new concept - with the University of Manchester leading the charge in terms of graphene research.
So how do you and I get our hands on some of this magic stuff?
Though crude, a quick search on Google for ’buying graphene in the UK’ renders precious few results - with the top hit being a ’graphene supermarket’ in the US………..thanks, Google.
It’s clear to see, therefore, why people raise their eyebrows when they read about the wonders of graphene, or plans to build multi-million pound graphene research facilities.
One Twitter user, @LabEvans, recently referred to graphene as an “over-hyped material that has yet to deliver”.
Is @LabEvans right?
Certainly graphene, and graphene-related research, is continuing to cement itself firmly underneath the spotlight, regardless of what people might think.
Yesterday, for example, scientists at the University of Manchester found that carefully modified protons could pass through monolayers of graphene - which is notoriously impermeable…….or was, at least.
Commenting on the implications of this discovery, Gareth Hinds, electrochemist specialising in fuel cells at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), said: “If such a layer could be successfully incorporated between the electrodes of a hydrogen fuel cell, the issue of gas crossover would be completely eliminated, resulting in step changes in power output and stability.
“This would have major implications for an environmentally-friendly technology on the brink of commercialisation.”
Hinds may be referring to the news earlier this month that the NPL and the University of Manchester had signed a deal to speed up the commercialisation of graphene.
Either way, with so much potential surrounding graphene, it looks set to be the ’Jack of all Trades’.
Yet what I’d like to know is - will it ever be Master?