Just imagine – a wafer thin display screen, as flexible as paper and unbreakable that you can mould into any shape you like and unfold it creaseless to use! Or how about getting rid of those heavy solar panels on your rooftop and instead have flexi panes on the outer walls of your house tapping solar energy! This is no dream-that-will-come-true-only-by-2050, but something that could pop into our everyday lives in the coming decade or so. From enhancing the scope for creation of hybrid cars to finding quicker and more effective solutions for spinal cord injuries, graphene – the wonder material – is here to change the ways of innovation.
An allotrope of carbon with a densely-packed honeycomb crystal lattice structure in a single planar sheet of sp2-bonded carbon atoms, graphene combines the aspects of metals and semiconductors. With extensive research being conducted in this area, it has been realized that
graphene is possibly the best electrical material at room temperature, is a fantastic thermal conductor, and is also a very strong and stiff material.
Despite the several advantageous properties of this basic building block of graphite materials, the geometry defects of graphene available today is still posing a huge constraint on its industrial applications. However, research by IBM’s atomic force microcopy technique allows researchers to study defects in graphene sheets. Similarly, a study headed by Professor Nicole Grobert of the University of Oxford on the invention of a method to create high quality large graphene sheets could soon make it a widely used commercial material.
efforts being made, the industry is increasingly focusing on developing the application of graphene in computers, batteries and sensors. Some significant efforts include a €1-billion funding by the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda for a graphene project, and a $1.35-billion grant provided by the European Union to Finland-based mobile phone maker Nokia to ensure immediate commercial use of graphene.
The patent landscape
With much research underway, it is only natural to find active patenting activity for graphene-based applications and products. A total of 1,028 patent applications were filed in the last five years in German, U.S. and EU patent offices alone (Source: Delphion). China leads the patenting trend with 2,204 patens and applications followed by the U.S. with 1,754.
The top 10 U.S. patent holders in the field of Graphene are shown below:
Graphene manufacturing centers like, China, England, and USA could possibly emerge as market leaders in graphene-based products. In lieu of the recent patent surge, commercially viable graphene-based products appear closer now and could attract potentially huge investments. It’s modifiable chemistry, large surface area and structure make graphene sheets extremely viable for the manufacturing of biodevices, which could soon change the face of inventions.