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Will Graphene Revolutionize the 21st Century?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the step-right-up dept.

Science 345

An anonymous reader writes "Much has been made of graphene's potential. It can be used for anything from composite materials — like how carbon-fiber is used currently — to electronics. 'Our research establishes Graphene as the strongest material ever measured, some 200 times stronger than structural steel,' mechanical engineering professor James Hone, of Columbia University, said in a statement. If graphene can be compared to the way plastic is used today, everything from crisp packets to clothing could be digitized once the technology is established. The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone."

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345 comments

Wolverine? (5, Funny)

Tobenisstinky (853306) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210350)

How does that compare to Adamantium?

Re:Wolverine? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210366)

Nobody cares about the x-men, faggot.

Re:Wolverine? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210422)

Your mom cares because I'm The Beast in bed.

Re:Wolverine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210928)

His mom told me that you are as surly as a beast if she doesn't PRETEND that you're a beast in bed. She said, "If I couldn't fake an orgasm well enough to fool that fool, he'd never be satisfied. For that matter, I'm not even sure that he has an orgasm - why am I never wet afterward? I'm glad I had my kids before I met the impotent little turd!"

Re:Wolverine? (0)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210412)

That's for you to find out as soon as you have invented/created Adamantium.

But a revolution is too much to define it as. It's an evolution, and with better understanding you get better products.

A revolution would be when someone finds out how to make a fusion powered car or aircraft.

Re:Wolverine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210856)

So, by that argument, the progression from Stone age to Bronze age to Iron age is merely evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Re:Wolverine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210428)

Lighter, but causes terrible B.O.

Re:Wolverine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210500)

Unobtanium beats both, hands down, but Mithril is really where all this is headed.

Re:Wolverine? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210640)

General products hull material has everything beat.

Handles anything but anti-matter.

Re:Wolverine? (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211140)

General products hull material has everything beat.

Handles anything but anti-matter.

And, really, it was only defeated by a *planet* of anti-matter.

Avatar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210916)

Forget Adamantium, what about Unobtanium?

Re:Wolverine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210978)

Less ants.

Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (3, Interesting)

Btrot69 (1479283) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210364)

Its probably got lots of other great uses, but the one I think of most is that its strong enough to make cables for a space elevator. That alone would be revolutionary.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210456)

Oh get over it. We do not have anything near the capabilities or even materials for such a structure. And even if we did, space is still empty. All that work for what? Better access to emptiness? You have a very poor understanding of reality.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210540)

Oh get over it. We do not have anything near the capabilities or even materials for such a structure. And even if we did, space is still empty. All that work for what? Better access to emptiness? You have a very poor understanding of reality.

And you have a very poor imagination and sense of exploration. If nothing else, it would make maintaining our orbital space much cheaper. Combined with solar sails and asteroid mining, this could make space exploration drop to almost free in terms of the cost to our planet.

Then we could finally get off this rock so if we don't figure out how to make it work here, at least we have some options to start over with. Then again, from a moral perspective, I continue to wonder if we need to make it work here, before we start fucking up the rest of the galaxy.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (2, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210730)

And you have a very poor imagination and sense of "exploration."

Or he has a stronger sense of reality than you.

"If nothing else, it would make maintaining our orbital space much cheaper."

Or not. You talked about imagination, let's test yours: can you imagine what could happen when you put a space elevator sweeping out a full of space debris low orbit at some few thousands miles per hour?

"Then we could finally get off this rock so if we don't figure out how to make it work here, at least we have some options to start over with."

Where? as per the grandparent, once you get there, you'll see it's still an emptiness. Are you meaning other planet within the Solar system? It'll take a bit more than graphene to stablish a self supporting colony there. Out the Solar system? It'll take a bit more than graphene to convince Einstein to allow us to go faster than light.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210998)

Asteroids, you fucking moron.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (2, Informative)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211078)

"Asteroids, you fucking moron."

Do you *really* mean stablishing a self-suficient colony on an asteroid? Because that's what we were talking about.

And then again, what do you expect to get from an asteroid that would mean such a big difference for us down here on Earth? And if you talk about mining asteroids for our outer colonies you go back to square one again: it'll take a bit more than graphene to stablish a self-sufficient colony anywhere in the Solar system. And as long as you are not talking about a self-sufficient colony you still haven't broken ties to big old Earth.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (4, Insightful)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210734)

Oh get over it. We do not have anything near the capabilities or even materials for such a structure. And even if we did, space is still empty. All that work for what? Better access to emptiness? You have a very poor understanding of reality.

And you have a very poor imagination and sense of exploration. If nothing else, it would make maintaining our orbital space much cheaper. Combined with solar sails and asteroid mining, this could make space exploration drop to almost free in terms of the cost to our planet.

Then we could finally get off this rock so if we don't figure out how to make it work here, at least we have some options to start over with. Then again, from a moral perspective, I continue to wonder if we need to make it work here, before we start fucking up the rest of the galaxy.

Is that the same way that nuclear power was going to make electricity almost free? I've seen industry claims from the 50s that nuclear power would be so cheap they would stop putting meters on houses.

A space elevator would be cool, but it would still be the most expensive thing to build and maintain ever.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (2)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211152)

Then again, from a moral perspective, I continue to wonder if we need to make it work here, before we start fucking up the rest of the galaxy.

Hmm. Unfortunately, the more I learn about the scale of the Universe - or even the Milky Way - the less confident I am about human stellar travel in the near future. Or the remote future.

There are lots of resources about this but here's one : http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/525347 [newgrounds.com]

Actually, I hadn't realised the range of sizes of stars. Including the one that would take "1,200 years to travel round in a plane". This is still massively smaller than the distance to the Oort cloud, itself a fraction (1/40th?) of the distance to the nearest star. Really, our everyday experience is confined to the thin slice of scale between (say) mm and tens/hundreds/thousands of Km. If the subatomic world is the 'lower' - very empty - third of the total, and the cosmic is the upper third, then we directly experience only about the middle third of the middle third...

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210542)

Hmm, that's a quick -1 mod. In ten years, when you and I are still on this "ball of mud", flying the same half-century old 747s, burning the same fuels in the same turbines using the same technology using the same materials, I'll laugh at you. And ten years after that, and ten years ....

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (2)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210804)

Our access to that emptyness had changed your life already, several times, and in things that you could think as essential for modern culture. Even if only is needed to put up there factories for medicines or materials that are pretty hard to be done with gravity will make a big difference. And once up there a lot of things are near, from asteroid mining to energy production in big escale.

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210960)

Sounds like you were in Queen Isabella's court. "That fool Columbus wants to sail west, when everything in the world is east of us? He'll just fall off the edge of the world, and good riddance!"

Re:Strong enough to make cables for Space elevator (3, Interesting)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211040)

Actually they said something along the lines of,"Your estimates make the world too small, there's no way you can sail west and reach Asia in the short period of time you are proposing."

I'd sure hope so (2)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210386)

Personally I think there's a lot of potential with it. However, I'm curious if it's going to end up being something like asbestos that makes it a bittersweet kind of substance.

I do think we need something to propel our sciences forward to "the next level (tm)" and graphene just may help get us there.

Re:I'd sure hope so (4, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210748)

asbestos isn't bittersweet, it doesn't taste like much of anything.

Re:I'd sure hope so (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210930)

From childhood experience, I find asbestos tastes a lot like lead paint chips.

The future (5, Funny)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210394)

"The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone."

So I'll have to wait 5 minutes before my credit card finally has booted?

Re:The future (2)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210660)

I see smartphones becoming the size of a credit card within the next 10 years, graphene or no graphene.

Re:The future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210756)

That would make them unergonomic and useless for viewing video (they're pretty useless for video as it is).

Re:The future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210906)

Some people don't buy telephones to view videos. Ok we are talking about smartphones, but getting information in form of text and maybe listening to using is all I would use it for.

Re:The future (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211024)

I see smartphones becoming the size of a credit card within the next 10 years, graphene or no graphene.

Is that credit card-sized smartphone going to come with microscopic vision enhancement and more compact finger-tips? I hope the advances are in power life and lower cost rather than making them teeny-tiny.

Re:The future (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211104)

I see smartphones becoming the size of a credit card within the next 10 years, graphene or no graphene.

Is that credit card-sized smartphone going to come with microscopic vision enhancement and more compact finger-tips? I hope the advances are in power life and lower cost rather than making them teeny-tiny.

At that point, why not just build the phone into the headset and do it all by voice control, with possibly a laser keypad as an alternate.

I could see that doing most communications and even driving directions. If you had bluetooth receivers in cars, it could play music most times you want it to.

Re:The future (2)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210874)

In my opinion, smartphones have too much processing power as it is. Will these credit cards be able to stream HD video and run apps, but be serious overkill for actually making purchases?

Re:The future (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210912)

You pull out your credit card to make a purchase and out of its speaker comes "Good Morning SilverHatHacker! What a beautiful day it is! I see that you are at a Walmart store location. Would you like to hear about special Walmart promotional offers that are exclusive to this MasterSmartCard? Just look at all the wonderful things that you can save money on today! Tap the information icon on any one of these exciting offers!"

Re:The future (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210934)

SUDDENLY a voice comes out of your pocket. It's your credit card shouting at you!
HEY YOU!! People who bought that e-book also bought that other e-book. What do you think you're doing here? Go back to that site and buy that other e-book as well!!!

Nope (2, Interesting)

papabob (1211684) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210400)

an industrial revolution, by definition, came by things completely unexpected. Laser, silicon, etc. When grapehene can be produced massively it will already be "the Next Big Thing in 5-10 years" for the previous 50 years.

Well said, Dr. Avouris (5, Insightful)

sfranklin (95470) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210404)

At the end of the article: "But the main thing is to be truthful and not exaggerate because we actually have to deliver." When there are some real-world examples, then graphene will be worth reading about.

For those too lazy to RTFA (2)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210420)

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: Graphene.
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in graphene. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.

Re:For those too lazy to RTFA (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210832)

But... But... The guy in the movie was right about plastics, except it didn't create as many jobs western economies as it did in Japan and Taiwan, so Ben would perhaps have trouble finding a job in that industry in the US. Maybe it will be the same with graphene, except this time the jobs would be created in China and India. Maybe not. There are startups in Europe and the US that are looking into building graphene factories, but I don't think anyone knows if they will be profitable.

Graphene based electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210440)

Graphene has no bandgap, and therefore is not a semiconductor. This means it can't be used to make a transistor. And although it has a good conductivity it does not compare to copper. Although graphene does have some extraordinary properties it will not replace silicon for making processors, or copper for making PCB's.

Re:Graphene based electronics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210514)

Re:Graphene based electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210816)

Did you read that article you linked?

"Lin cautioned against thinking of graphene as a substitute for the silicon-based microprocessors used in today's computers, at least at anytime in the near future. One major roadblock is that graphene does not work easily with discrete electronic signals, he explained. Because graphene is a zero bandgap semiconductor, meaning there is no energy difference between its conductive and nonconductive states, transistors made of the semiconductor cannot be turned on and off. In contrast, silicon has a bandgap of one electron volt, making it good for processing discrete digital signals, Lin said."

So yes, it's a semiconductor, but it can't replace existing silicon-based digital circuits (yet).

Re:Graphene based electronics (2)

anne on E. mouse cow (867445) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210526)

From the article -

But companies like IBM and Nokia have also been involved in research. IBM has created a 150 gigahertz (Ghz) transistor - the quickest comparable silicon device runs at about 40 Ghz.

Re:Graphene based electronics (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210976)

People talk about the conductivity of this stuff and the strength of it as if the applications related to these two properties are always unrelated. But I wonder about this aspect. So we make graphene sheets or armour or plates or rope/structural cable, and they are all highly conductive. Is there a way to make it non-conductive? I can imagine that there are many applications where you would want these things to have the strength yet be non-conductive. Say through some miracle a space elevator is made using graphene cables. The cables would be giant lightning rods. Etc.

Processing power in credit card (5, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210448)

Don't smartphones already have all their processing power contained inside something smaller than a credit card? The rest is just battery, screen, antenna,...

Re:Processing power in credit card (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210464)

Basically yes.

The battery and the screen eat up the most space. The antenna is, thanks to Nokia, folded into a much smaller space (AFAIK they have a patent on this).

Graphene will never be used for strong materials.. (5, Interesting)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210470)

...because the difference between graphene and graphite is that graphene is one atom thick, bypassing the sheet-on-sheet sliding that makes graphite such a wonderful lubricant. If you want multiple sheets to be used in a material and still have some structural stability, you have to cross-link the atoms, which just gives you diamond (or amorphous carbon, if it's half-assed).

No, if graphene is the material of the 21st century, it will be entirely because of its electronic properties, not the mechanical.

Re:Graphene will never be used for strong material (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210656)

Can't you roll up graphene sheets like rolling up a sheet of paper, or multiple sheets of paper? Would you get structural stability that way?

Re:Graphene will never be used for strong material (3, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210782)

Can't you roll up graphene sheets like rolling up a sheet of paper, or multiple sheets of paper?

Yes, that would be carbon nano-tubes. However last time [youtube.com] we played around with tiny incredible strong tubes that didn't turn out to well. Have to wait and see how things work out for carbon nanotubes.

Re:Graphene will never be used for strong material (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210796)

You would get some, but then what you have is essentially a multi-walled carbon nanotube, only with a lot more give to it.

Re:Graphene will never be used for strong material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210802)

A rolled up graphene sheet = Carbon nanotube.

Yes they are structurally strong, but they have a tiny radius (nm's).

Re:Graphene will never be used for strong material (2)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210904)

--
My sister opened a computer store in Hawaii. She sells C shells by the seashore.
--
Abalone shells manage to be incredibly tough by bonding layers of hard plates between flexible ones. A composite of sheets of graphene and noncarbon atomic layers binding them sounds interesting. I wouldn't be astonished if someone made a superconductor that way.

Re:Graphene will never be used for strong material (2)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210914)

Current carbon fiber gets its strength from carbon "lamellae" which are a micostructural feature of the fiber itself. That is, inside the fiber are regions that are amorphous carbon and regions that are organized into sheets. If you wanted to make a structural material using graphene sheets this might be what you would do. But we already have it. So why isn't it taking over the world?

Beware of grandiose claims about strength. You could accurately say current carbon fiber is 10 times stronger than steel, but you don't see any real-world things made out of cfrp that are 10 times stronger than an equivalent steel part even on a weight basis. That's because going from microstructure to macro-structure is a long and winding road and includes also the weakest parts, not just the strongest parts that everyone likes to talk about.

Re:Graphene will never be used for strong material (1)

danhaas (891773) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211102)

Would you have to cross link atoms if you wanted only traction resistance? A graphene cable would be awesome.

Ultracapacitors (4, Informative)

Suiggy (1544213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210480)

I personally can't wait for graphene based ultracapacitors. They're reaching capacitances of 100,000 farads/kg in the lab which is just absolutely insane for a capacitor.

Re:Ultracapacitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210592)

100k farads? Just how big are these things!?

Re:Ultracapacitors (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210818)

100k farads? Just how big are these things!?

Too big to touch to your tong I'm afraid...

Re:Ultracapacitors (4, Interesting)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210936)

That's what I love so much about graphene. It was just sitting there all those years and nobody thought of it. I remember being in electronics class years ago when we calculated the size of a capacitor that could power an electric car for a certain distance. It was HUGE. Yet we all knew the formula for capacitance and nobody came up with even ultracapacitors. Finally with graphene capacitors are going to get an incredible leap in what they can do... and all that time it was right under our noses.

Cautiously Optimistic (4, Insightful)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210518)

I think graphene will probably fulfill some promises and fall flat with others. Since carbon (which graphene is) is a semiconductor I am more hopeful for it to become an efficient electronic resource. Because it is a semiconductor, I am less hopeful that it will become a better battery (carbon has been used in batteries for years but it's electrical leakage eventually drains an unused battery). As a material I expect that it will have the same shortcomings that carbon fiber has - in order to be strongest it needs to be pure which has proven difficult to achieve and therefore expensive. Graphene itself is expensive to manufacture. Is it even possible to chain it together to make long chains of it? I don't know but do know it is hard to do it with carbon fiber. What are the health consequences of making it, using it, or wearing it? So many things seem promising but end up being very bad (asbestos, lead, VOC's) that I am not sure it will launch. Seems like a submicroscopic sharp hard item may cause problems in the lungs.

Wait, graphene is a semi conductor? (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210710)

I mean I know carbon in SP3 hybridization is a non-conductor(think diamond) but graphene/graphite is SP2. It's a conductor because of that electron sharing. (Hey, I still remember a little of my organic chemistry.)

Re:Wait, graphene is a semi conductor? (3, Informative)

gront (594175) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210890)

Graphene ribbons respond very well to changes in voltage making them very nifty (possibly) for transistors. Great flow when you want it in a controllable way. The main issue being that they don't have a very good "off" state. So you get a nice curve of voltage v. current flowing across them, except for the middle part around 0V. That's what everyone is working on. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene#Graphene_transistors [wikipedia.org] http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/graphene-transistors-cant-be-turned-off-wont-replace-silicon-in-processors-20110124/ [geek.com]

Carbon is the root of all evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210524)

In your dreams, pal. If it does take over the world and revolutionize technology, we'll know for sure...unless "we" is just a bunch of people who don't know science from apple sauce. But the trouble with just about any technology these days is that environmental activists are going to find a reason why we're supposed to hate it. With anything that's derived from carbon (hey, that's just about everything, isn't it?) that requires lots of combustion and chemical processing, you're going to be on their shit list sooner or later. Best thing to do is find a cave to live in, stick to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and keep a low profile.

Re:Carbon is the root of all evil (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210638)

In your dreams, pal. If it does take over the world and revolutionize technology, we'll know for sure...unless "we" is just a bunch of people who don't know science from apple sauce. But the trouble with just about any technology these days is that environmental activists are going to find a reason why we're supposed to hate it. With anything that's derived from carbon (hey, that's just about everything, isn't it?) that requires lots of combustion and chemical processing, you're going to be on their shit list sooner or later. Best thing to do is find a cave to live in, stick to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and keep a low profile.

Hunter-gatherer lifestyle? Do you want to have PETA against you? :-)

Re:Carbon is the root of all evil (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211042)

At the very least some carbon based life forms are the root of all evil.

Re:Carbon is the root of all evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211092)

-5 trolllololol

Original Slashdot article? (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210530)

Do I remember correctly if I remember a a Slashdot article with a link to a short film of a man pulling graphene from a solid carbon piece, like Scotch tape? At the time I thought it was fake, but as time went I realized it was for real. Graphene is way cool, and would be nice to find and see that clip again!

Re:Original Slashdot article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210790)

There was a clip of that in the Making Stuff Smaller [pbs.org] PBS series.

AC because I suddenly can't log in - my nick has non-alpha characters in it, and that never occurred to the /. coders.

no it wont (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210548)

cause corporate greedy ones control it and they will extract whatever value and leave consumers paying more and more.

there was a time when technology used to make life better and cheaper , not any more. I think that is the goal to make every thing so expensive we stop using it and then they can control us.

WELL if everyone stopped watching tv and cable and satellite too that would be the end of the democracy as we have it as you'd not have any ability of govt to get any messages out too. ITS coming and its coming faster and faster.

/me goes puts up his solar array and checks the wind mill and then heads off to his self sustaining garden. ENJOY IT SUCKERS FASCISM IS KILLING YOU NOW.

Except, of course.... (3, Interesting)

DG (989) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210684)

...that most of the technologies used in your "self-sustainable" lifestyle are the result of recent developments and investments in new technologies, most of which have been about pushing down the costs of the tech involved.

Your solar array? Only became feasible at the individual installation level in the last five years (and is improving rapidly) due to heavy R&D investment. Ditto that windmill (arguably, that's more about moving the industrial base to China and the associated cost savings - unless you have carbon fiber blades).

And that's ignoring the effect of cheap and powerful computers on design - affordable solid form CAD, FEA, CFD, and ubiquitous CAM means that anybody can buy Solidworks, MasterCAM, and a HAAS 3-axis mill and start making chips at a startup cost that is a tiny fraction of what that capability cost even 10 years ago.

Unless you are mining your own ore, smelting your own raw materials, logging your own trees, growing your own seed (and your own fertilizer) your are as much a part of "the system" as the rest of us; a couple of solar panels be dammed.

  DG

Wait for the patent trolls (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210572)

Wait for the patent trolls to join the party and tell me which century this will revolutionize.

Re:Wait for the patent trolls (0)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211126)

Wait for the patent trolls to join the party and tell me which century this will revolutionize.

The next one...

Credit card as powerful as my smart phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210612)

Now I won't be able to figure out my credit card without tech support! Argh ;=p hehe

The diamond age. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36210650)

We are leaving the age of silicon and entering the diamond age. The artifacts we build in the next 1000 years might actually stay around for tens of thousands of years after we are long gone.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diamond_Age [wikipedia.org]

Remember carbon nanotubes? (3, Interesting)

Bender_ (179208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210670)

A few years ago all the rage was about carbon nanotubes. An entire generation of phd students was raised on this material. Carbon nanotubes were the material of the future, enabling the space elevator, nanoscale transistors, near-superconductor conductivity and so on. What is left today?

Even before that there were C60 buckyballs, another previously unnoticed carbon allotrope. Buckyballs were set to revolutionize chemistry and were (are) part of n-type organic semicunductors. What is left today?

A fad is a fad, even in science. Of all the imagined applications a few will remain, and will be turned into real applications by technologists and engineers. The scientists will move on to the next fad - well at least those who are quick enough.

Re:Remember carbon nanotubes? (2)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210746)

Orrrrrr......you are just not involved in the field so you are completely unaware of what is going on post sensationalist-journalist phase.

I'm guessing more fiberoptics (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210696)

Within say 10-20 years most of Norway will have fiber everywhere - 12% had it last year and they're wiring all over the place, I heard some claim 35% by 2015 though that sounded a bit optimistic. No more last mile problems, you could send gigabits to every house. HDTV streaming to every room in the building @ BluRay quality? Can do. Webcams the quality of full HD video cameras? Can do. High quality multi-channel video conferencing? Can do. The future is a world where bandwidth is truly approaching almost free. CPUs and GPUs will improve some yes, but I think that's what will change the most. Oh and with it massive deployment of wireless, if every home has a fiber connection they probably won't mind a 50 Mbit wireless running on the side - not just 4G but massive bandwidth in almost all populated areas. Fast enough you could literally have every change on your hdd synced against remote backup - or even that the network acts as your local hdd. Where the data is will almost cease to be relevant, the pipes are so vast it doesn't matter.

And hopefully we'll see the end of "TV networks" and regional restrictions as we know it. Series just go live and people get it via iTunes/Spotify/Netflix like services, there's no need for scheduled programming because the bandwidth is so vast we can just unicast to everyone and let them watch it at their own pace, possibly with some preloads and CDN to avoid the pressure on the underwater cables and the peaks but mostly that the massive bandwidth means it's no big deal. That storm is coming, it's the same as over CD vs digital downloads only you need way more bandwidth. And that is coming, well except maybe to the US but I'm sure you'll be dragged along in time.

Cringley comes to mind (2)

shoppa (464619) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210752)

The future could see credit cards contain as much processing power as your current smartphone.

If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside. -- Robert X. Cringley

Re:Cringley comes to mind (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210982)

Which is why all reasonably competent motorists store a failover family in a second, redundant, car. It just isn't economic to pay for extra reliability in a single unit when you can get six lanes of virtually disposable vehicles for the same money and cluster them with commodity bitumen.

Send my love to spouse_02!

Michio thinks so (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36210942)

Dr Michio Kaku raves about graphene a lot.. He did mention using it to make a Dyson phere (of the capture all the energy of the sun kind, not necessarily the live on like Shaw's Orbitsville kind.

"Potential" = Speculation (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211068)

The article cited a lot of facts, theory and experimental work being done, but not one item about a physical product used in production.

"Will Graphene Revolutionize the 21st Century?": The answer is cost effective applications of graphene will be the sole determinant.

I propose a game: (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36211098)

The game is called "The Cynic's 4 Color Puzzle".

1. Obtain an outline map of the world, preferably black and white.

2. Select four colors. 1, 2, 3, and 4.

3. Fill all areas of the world that you expect to be nigh-unimaginably futuristic(routine occurrence of transhumans, strong AIs, kilometer high metamaterial structures, etc.) in 2061 with color 1.

4. Fill all areas of the world that you expect to be surprisingly mundane in 2061, except for a few of those wacky details that futurists never get right(everybody is still working in cubicles and flying aging 787s; but something as unexpected as facebook would have been in 1950 occupies 30% of the cube-dweller's time), with color 2.

5. Fill all areas of the world that will still be "developing" in 2061(the local elites will have access to everything from the color 2 zones, and color 1s, if present; but the bulk of the populace will still be mired in such classics as mud farming, Kalashnikovs, and nokias) with color 3.

6. Fill all areas of the world that will be radically dystopian and/or uninhabitable for cool reasons(radical climate shifts/flooding, nanite plague, biotech advances make new strains of smallpox and anthrax and friends as common as new malware is today, etc.) with color 4.

7. Argue at length about one another's maps.

Depends what you mean by "revolution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36211148)

There was a revolution when we added "plastic" to our list of building materials. It's cheap and can be easily molded into complex shapes at a very low cost. Don't worry about fossil fuels for the raw materials, we've already begun making plastics from plants. Plastic is here to stay.

Will graphene revolutionize the 21st century? Probably, but only in some domains. It has the potential to replace silicium for building faster processors and higher density solid-state memory, it's already revolutionized building materials if you're not afraid of the high cost and long manufacturing process.

But there's something else that's quite interesting: liquid metal [liquidmetal.com] (the real thing, not the T-1000 [wikipedia.org] kind) allow us to mold metal at a very low cost like plastic. That's going to be a revolution in itself.

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