The largest steps in technological innovation are often dependent on finding new, faster, more durable materials on or with which we construct devices. Discovering new materials or re-purposing pre-existing ones has been a key component of advancement and partially explains the exponential growth rate of new technologies. Essentially, the speed and memory storage of digital devices is limited by the speed and memory storage of the substances they consist of. New discoveries and technological innovations in raw materials could drastically improve electronic performance and recent research suggests that this desired innovation is well on its way. Researchers and technology companies are seeing potential in the recent technological innovation that is discovered graphene, a carbon compound that is unfathomably thin, harder than diamond, and that conducts electricity better than copper.
Scientists were skeptical a substance as thin as graphene existed, though some theorized it might. Made up of thin shavings of graphite, it is only one atom in thickness and, according to its discoverer, one gram could cover an entire football field. Graphene’s atoms bond together in a hexagonal pattern, giving it a strength and flexibility that mobile developers believe could lead to curved and bendable cellular devices to help further technological innovations.
This transparent substance was discovered by Andre Geim, a physics professor at Manchester University in England. He was attempting to polish down graphite to see how thin he could make it when an idea struck him. He had spent large amounts of time collecting scattered dust from the room with tape in order to clean up and decided to take a look at the dust under a microscope. He was astounded by how thin it was and began to document and publish its properties, eventually earning himself a Nobel Prize in 2010. Since then, 60 million dollars have been put into its research around the world and an annual Graphene Conference is held in France for researchers to meet and discuss their findings for technological innovations.
Technology in Process
While a wide variety of research is currently being conducted on this substance, the research in the area of memory storage is still in an early stage. Graphene quatum dots are being created for testing and being analyzed for their information holding capabilities. Different size dots seem to have different features that make pinning down an optimal size difficult. For example, the small dots are the best size for writing data, but larger dots are better for erasing data. Overall, the current experimentation has shown the capacity to be below the standard of currently available memory devices.
Though hyped up as a super-material, graphene does have certain flaws that require some working out before it is ready for the market. Firstly, the edges of graphene are sharp and able to pierce skin and lung cells, which is problematic if it is ever to be used in medical technology. Moreover, there may be possible negative ecological implications if the material manages to get into lakes, rivers, or oceans. Additionally, the transparent carbon compound is difficult to mass produce for technological innovations since large portions lose their durability and strength when made in large quantities. Lastly, graphene is currently 800 times more expensive than producing electronics-grade silicon.
In essence, graphene technological innovation shows great potential but more research is needed before it can provide the benefits that researchers claim it holds the potential to. At Mako Invent, we always have our eye on the newest and latest innovations around the world. If you have a great idea, contact us to find out how we can help make your concept a reality!
About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, patent referral, prototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!