With the launch of its Graphene Flagship project last week, the European Union is embarking on one of its most ambitious science projects ever – and is trying to get out in front of a growing rush to harness graphene’s vast potential.
A single layer of carbon atoms, graphene has been called a new “wonder material” and may well be “the most amazing and versatile substance available to mankind.” Nanowerk News describes it as follows:
“Being the world’s strongest material, harder than diamond, yet lightweight and flexible, graphene enables electrons to flow much faster than silicon. It is also a transparent conductor, combining electrical and optical functionalities in an exceptional way. This unique combination of superior properties makes it a credible starting point for new disruptive technologies in a wide range of fields.”
Thus, the European Commission has designated the material an FET – a “Future & Emerging Technologies” Flagship and is dedicating a 10-year, 1,000 million Euro research and innovation initiative to graphene – to be kicked off on October 10 at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden with a gathering of researchers from 17 countries. The project’s mission:
“To take the supermaterial graphene and related ultra-thin layered materials from academic laboratories to society, revolutionize multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe.”
While it will likely be a while until we see any viable game-changing applications of graphene, the fact that Europe, which has already taken important steps in the area of formulating a critical minerals strategy, is also taking a proactive strategic approach on graphene, should be a wakeup call to U.S. policy makers who are still dawdling with regards to our own minerals strategy.
For a look at recent developments on graphite, from which graphene is derived, read Dan McGroarty’s latest piece for Investor Intel entitled “Homeland Security, Wikileaks, Jack Bauer — and Mason Graphite.”