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Europe to launch ambitious graphene research and innovation initiative

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.”