Last December, Money Morning technology specialist Michael A. Robinson told you about a radical new material that would soon have a pervasive impact on the U.S. economy - and the entire human race.
Robinson detailed how this new material is so powerful and versatile, it's going to play a key role in new products for the U.S. military, leading tech companies, and medical researchers.
"Stronger than steel and lighter than a feather, this high-tech medium will shape virtually every part of our daily lives by the end of this decade," said Robinson. "The possible uses are almost limitless."
It's called graphene, and it's one of the most versatile elements ever created – useful in a multitude of applications and potentially capable of redefining the world as we know it.
The "Miracle" of Graphene
Specifically, graphene is a two-dimensional structure made from the carbon atoms in graphite – the stuff in pencil leads – but bonded together in honeycomb-like sheets a mere one atom thick.
Imagine a sub-microscopic chicken-wire mesh, but made up of carbon atoms and their connectors rather than metal.
First envisioned back in 1947, graphene didn't become a reality until 2004, when several teams of researchers demonstrated that single layers of carbon atoms could actually be isolated.
Now there's a mad dash to exploit the unique properties of the material, which are impressive:
Graphene is one of the strongest materials ever created, 200 times stronger than steel and even more durable than diamonds. According to researchers quoted by BBC News, "It would take an elephant balanced on a pencil to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap."
It's highly flexible and can be stretched like rubber without losing its strength.
It's the thinnest physical material in the world – 3 million sheets of graphene stacked atop one another would be just 1 millimeter thick. It also weighs virtually nothing.
It conducts both heat and electricity better than copper, and could eventually replace silicon in circuitry, potentially changing the nature of every electronic device in use today. Imagine cell phones the size of a strand of wire or big-screen high-definition televisions no thicker than wall paper – and capable of being rolled up into a one-inch tube and moved anywhere.
It's incredibly energy efficient and a potentially eco-friendly source of power. MIT researchers recently found they could generate electric current by shining light on graphene, meaning it could be used to revolutionize solar-power collection. A separate study at Northwestern University found graphene could be used to charge lithium-ion batteries – like those used in electric vehicles – 10 times faster and give them 10 times the storage capacity of present models.
It's no wonder then that governments, universities, energy companies and major corporations are pouring huge dollar amounts into graphene research and product development.
For example, Great Britain just dedicated $120 million to further graphene work at the University of Manchester; South Korea has announced $300 million in graphene projects; and the US military is studying potential applications in aircraft, missiles and other high-speed, light-weight equipment.