You can probably draw a lot of comparison between Graphene and Uranium; when they were each first discovered they were the wonder material that promised to unlock the mysteries of the universe. The problems came in actually figuring out how to control and utilise the materials themselves. Uranium is inherently dangerous but has the potential to be the replacement of coal and other fossil fuels. Graphene may not be dangerous but it is equally unwieldy to control and to produce.
The physical properties of Graphene allow it to be so strong and conductive, the potential uses for it could fill a library. The major roadblock in its production is just that, it can’t be produced en masse. While small test amounts can be created in labs, that is really the only place it can be created to perform any meaningful task.
Scientists at Stanford University, however, have proven a concept method of mass producing ribbons of Graphene. Using DNA strands taken from bacteria they are able to create narrow strands of Graphene, which have been used to create a new type of transistor.
Usually transistors are made from the semiconductive material Silicon and are used to construct microchips and processors. As we make ever smaller versions of the device it is feared eventually we’ll hit the wall of what is physically possible, it’s a balancing act of size and heat output. A Graphene transistor on the other hand would be able to sail past those barriers faced by silicon, as the transistors made from it can be smaller and consume much less power.
It is possible this new method of production could be transferred to the other areas of interest of Graphene researchers, but it isn’t without it’s flaws. It is a big step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go yet.
Source: Stanford University