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Why graphene hasn’t taken over the world…yet

Why graphene hasn’t taken over the world…yet


– [Cory] It may not look like it, but I’m creating one of the strongest and most versatile materials
on Earth, graphene. You’ve probably heard buzz about it. Graphene made big waves back in 2004, and it’s knocked around
science news ever since. – A global race for graphene. – You know, it’s not just
limited to one little thing. – One of the greatest
discoveries of the 21st century. – [Man] Graphene could be the key to a lot of mind blowing technology. – But that was almost 15 years ago. Where are all of the graphene
wonders that we were promised? The bulletproof armor,
the graphene circuitry, the ultra light airplanes,
the graphene medicine, a space elevator? – [Female Voiceover] So the
next time man walks on the moon, maybe he’ll take the
elevator to get there. – Clearly, a lot of the
buzz never went anywhere. But graphene does exist. Engineers have gone to
making one fleck at a time, to producing it by the barrelful. – Do you want to try to pick it up? – Sure. – [Cory] So the graphene
revolution we were promised may already be in motion. – You can stretch and pull on it, and in fact, a good way to visualize it, is that if you had a big
enough sheet of pure graphene, you could hold up a soccer
ball on just one atomic layer, and that’s insane. – [Cory] Joseph Meany is
an analytical chemist, who coauthored a book about
the promise of graphene. He explained to us that
graphene is just carbon, like coal, or graphite, or diamond. The difference is in how the carbon atoms are bonded together, and in the unique shape
the material takes. – [Joseph] So it’s just
a single atom sheet, there’s no z dimension
to speak of in graphene. And these atoms of carbon
are arranged in interlocking or tessellated hexagons,
kind of like a chicken wire. The bonds between the carbon atoms are actually extremely strong. – Back in 2004, researchers
in the UK discovered that they could produce graphene with some shockingly simple tools. A hunk of a particular type if graphite, and some standard issue tape. – [Joseph] Yeah, it was
just a very large hunk that you could hold in your
hand, and they took the tape and put it down onto the
surface of the graphite, and just lifted it off. – From there, they used chemicals
to dissolve away the tape, and they were left with
tiny flakes of graphene with remarkable properties. It’s impossibly light,
yet incredibly strong. It’s flexible, and it’s a
highly efficient conductor of electricity. The researchers won a Nobel Prize in 2010, and today in 2018, literally
everything around us is built or enhanced with graphene. Okay, not quite. – [Phillip] Yeah, I think
it’s very easy for the media and for the press to seize on any new scientific or technological development as something that’s
going to be be transformative, you know, scientists come with
these amazing new materials and then everything changes, and of course it never
really happens that way. – [Cory] Phillip Ball is a
reporter who’s written a bunch about the graphene hype machine. And I asked him to throw
some cold water on the story. – [Phillip] Hello? – Hi, is this Phillip Ball? – [Phillip] It is, yes. – Hi, how are you doing? This is Cory calling from the Verge, – [Phillip] Hi, hello, Cory. Of course with any new technology, the reality is it generally
takes years to develop it. It would be unreasonable
to expect graphene to transform our lives overnight. – The uphill battle for any new material is that it can’t just be better
than existing technology, it has to be much better. Phillip says that’s
the issue with graphene replacing silicon in electronics. – [Phillip] Certainly there are companies who are exploring its use as a conductive electronic material. But of course we already
have such materials, and graphene has really
got to have big advantages over what we have already
if it’s going to displace what is already well
established, mature, technology. – But that’s not to say that
graphene hasn’t gone anywhere in 15 years. We found some engineers
who are making materials with graphene today,
materials that could one day even end up in space ships. The company is Vorbeck Materials, and their president, John Lettow, showed me how far they’ve come
with graphene mass production and he gave us a free sample. Literally it’s like floating in the vial. – And so if you open that up, you can take out, this is a
bag of about 1.5 kilograms of graphene fits in a 30 gallon container. So it’s very light,
sort of very voluminous, in it’s sort of raw state. – [Cory] Vorbeck is introducing its manufactured graphene powder to all sorts of industrial
and consumer products, like RFID tags, clothing, and even rubber. So you take the graphene,
you blend it into rubber, and the rubber they use,
sort of big blenders almost, that beat the rubber around,
mix the graphene into it, and what you get by mixing
the graphene with the rubber is very high temperature capabilities, and also very high strength. – Thinking about an application for this, you talked about space ships right? – Right. – You’re going through
extremely high temperature to extremely cold
temperature in out er space, you don’t want rubber that
would expand and contract and lose its strength over time. – Exactly. – This material won’t do that? – That’s exactly right. – [Cory] And on the electronics front, Vorbeck has created graphene based inks that can be printed en mass
on standard printing presses. When printed on water proof
fabrics, they can be washed, heated, ironed, wrinkled, and twisted, without damaging the circuits. This is extremely promising for the future of graphene based wearable electronics, which John says we should be
on the lookout for in 2019. – What we really hope is
that we can walk into a room, five years from now, and
most people in that room will have an article of clothing that has graphene wearable
electronics in it. – So there are big things
happening with graphene, we just have to be patient, and we can’t believe
everything we read about it. And for what it’s worth,
we’ve been here before. – [Phillip] It’s this sort
of long standing notion of a wonder material. I think it does go back to
the dawn of the plastic age in the 1920s and 1930s. You know, you saw all the
same kinds of promises made for them, that they were going to
be these wonder materials that would do everything. – I just want to say one
word to you, just one word. – Yes sir? – Are you listening? – Yes sir, I am. – Plastics. – [Phillip] Plastics, you know, they clearly had a huge impact and they do all kinds of useful things, but they have their limitations too. I guess it was really a sort of reference to this sort of longstanding
idea of wonder materials that were you know, going to
solve every problem. – Graphene might not be a wonder material any more than plastic is,
but the way John sees it, if graphene works well on its own merits, the hype won’t matter at all. – We really don’t want
our customers to care whether it’s graphene or not. What we want them to
know is that this thing, this device that you’re
using, works better, for longer, than anything
else you can get. And whether it has graphene in it, whether they advertise
it and use that hype as part of the marketing or not, is sort of completely irrelevant. It just is better. – Hey everyone, thanks for watching. If you have any ideas for a material you’d like us to check
out, please let us know in the comments below and
don’t forget to subscribe to our new Verge science YouTube channel, where we’re putting
out a video every week. Thanks!

100 thoughts on “Why graphene hasn’t taken over the world…yet”

  1. I may have just not listened well enough but is it cheaper and renewable? That would make it so revolutionary

  2. Why? Because it’s going to take someone else’s business away so they made sure graphene was stifled and shut down in its tracks.

  3. Plot twist: we already have everything from bullet proof armor, to new technologies, and other things … but the government controls the technology…

  4. Companies don’t want to produce products that last long amounts of time. The main thing that keeps many companies in business is the fact that their consumers have to come back time and time again to replace worn out materials. With a substance like this, companies would simply go out of business because they wouldn’t have that sustainable market for reoccurring customers. Sure for us, the consumer, something like this is ideal but companies only care about the profit. It’s the sole reason why we as humanity are stuck in the plastic age. The greed of companies can and will stop us from advancing to the heights we could be reaching with new technology

  5. Is this the next mass problem in landfills or in our ocean all around the world … or is this Mother Nature friendly

  6. "It doesn't expand or contract in hot or cold conditions" . Thats what makes the lipo last . I believe its 3x longer than a standard lipo . I use the Turnigy Graphene in race wings . Love them

  7. The other material to check out it ALON. Supposed to be much better than glass for balastics and clearer than anything else out there.

  8. 7:00 – 7:10 is the motto every elite is going by
    Example; we don't care if it's real chicken or not , as long as it taste better

  9. It seems to me that if you had a large enough sheet of graphene, you could cut a person in half with ease and if particles of graphene are floating around in a room, it would be dangerous to breath them in. how do graphene production companies control graphene from getting into the air?

  10. I've done some research recently into material science and came upon this wonder. There's another development a lot like it I'd want to see a video for called buckypaper. I think it would be a good addition to your videos

  11. We'll see it once it's sold to China, mass produced and over used by slave type labor and shipped to US addresses for free in just 43 days 😂

  12. MIT research scientists have already developed a method of continuous upscaleable mass production . It's just a matter of time and macro economics.

  13. Everyone is ignoring that graphene is basically made of lead, and hes thonking of making it wearable.

  14. It's hard to invest money in research on a new tech like Graphine, even if it is better, as you also have to convince the market it's good enough to switch to. The joys of capitalism is that it's hard to do R&D if you cannot guarantee a sizeable profit in a short amount of time. We could really use more investment, be it a government grant or via crowd sourced funding.

  15. I don’t know whether there is any connection between graphene and graphite. It reminds me about Chernobyl HBO miniseries.

  16. https://youtu.be/g_ekcgClKlE

    In this video they are using the same preview as you, and the title is the same, just in Spanish

  17. At The Graphene Council, we serve the global community of more than 25,000 materials scientists working with graphene. It is rapidly being adopted for commercial applications. Here is a short summary of where we are commercially today with graphene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D94USUyH2nQ&t=36s

  18. graphene technology is being suppressed. it can be made simply using plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition of methane gas onto a copper or silicon substrate.

  19. Just wait until school kids start taking out the graphite on their pencils for a new kind of mafia

  20. If graphene can easily produce or easily can obtain then it will not make much profit, and many mining business for other raw materials around the world will effected heavily by this new element. In our world we live today no profit = no implementation. Like tesla's discovery about electricity. They rather destroy the earth to make profit rather than innovate to preserve it.

  21. We only have so much Lithium Ion in this world Graphene Batteries is gonna happen one day, just make sure the price is cheap when it does sell

  22. There is a real material better than graphene and it is called "borophene" made of boron. The reason you haven’t heard it very much because lots of firm made huge investments in graphene. If you are interested in just google the "borophene" or just Click it https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613267/borophene-the-new-2d-material-taking-chemistry-by-storm/

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