Graphene - The Next Boom?

From the website Graphenea:

Photovoltaic Cells
Offering very low levels of light absorption (at around 2.7% of white light) whilst also offering high electron mobility means that graphene can be used as an alternative to silicon or ITO in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells. Silicon is currently widely used in the production of photovoltaic cells, but while silicon cells are very expensive to produce, graphene based cells are potentially much less so. When materials such as silicon turn light into electricity it produces a photon for every electron produced, meaning that a lot of potential energy is lost as heat. Recently published research has proved that when graphene absorbs a photon, it actually generates multiple electrons. Also, while silicon is able to generate electricity from certain wavelength bands of light, graphene is able to work on all wavelengths, meaning that graphene has the potential to be as efficient as, if not more efficient than silicon, ITO or (also widely used) gallium arsenide. Being flexible and thin means that graphene based photovoltaic cells could be used in clothing; to help recharge your mobile phone, or even used as retro-fitted photovoltaic window screens or curtains to help power your home.
Energy Storage
One area of research that is being very highly studied is energy storage. While all areas of electronics have been advancing over a very fast rate over the last few decades (in reference to Moore’s law which states that the number of transistors used in electronic circuitry will double every 2 years), the problem has always been storing the energy in batteries and capacitors when it is not being used. These energy storage solutions have been developing at a much slower rate. The problem is this: a battery can potentially hold a lot of energy, but it can take a long time to charge, a capacitor, on the other hand, can be charged very quickly, but can’t hold that much energy (comparatively speaking). The solution is to develop energy storage components such as either a supercapacitor or a battery that is able to provide both of these positive characteristics without compromise.
Currently, scientists are working on enhancing the capabilities of lithium ion batteries (by incorporating graphene as an anode) to offer much higher storage capacities with much better longevity and charge rate. Also, graphene is being studied and developed to be used in the manufacture of supercapacitors which are able to be charged very quickly, yet also be able to store a large amount of electricity. Graphene based micro-supercapacitors will likely be developed for use in low energy applications such as smart phones and portable computing devices and could potentially be commercially available within the next 5-10 years. Graphene-enhanced lithium ion batteries could be used in much higher energy usage applications such as electrically powered vehicles, or they can be used as lithium ion batteries are now, in smartphones, laptops and tablet PCs but at significantly lower levels of size and weight.

From Wikipedia:

Graphene (/ˈɡræf.iːn/)[1] is an allotrope of carbon in the form of a two-dimensional, atomic-scale, hexagonal lattice in which one atom forms each vertex. It is the basic structural element of other allotropes, including graphite,charcoalcarbon nanotubes and fullerenes. It can also be considered as an indefinitely large aromatic molecule, the limiting case of the family of flat polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
File:Graphene and Dirac Cones.ogv
Graphene and its band structure and Dirac Cones, effect of a grid on doping
Graphene has many extraordinary properties. It is about 100 times stronger than steel by weight,[2] conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency and is nearly transparent.[3] Researchers have identified the bipolar transistor effect, ballistic transport of charges and large quantum oscillations in the material.

My view:

Graphene is one of the more interesting materials to be understood "discovered" in recent years.  In my opinion it could revolutionize energy storage and production especially in areas that are "off the grid".

It is essentially a two dimension film of carbon organized in such a way as to have very significant properties for industrial applications.

This material has properties that make it superconductive and energy absorbent.  It also has a very high surface to weight ratio.

In my next post I will share some information on a company that has a working prototype solar collector made from this material.