How to Become a Graphene "Wildcatter"

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You've got a rare opportunity to be a high-tech "wildcatter" – thanks to a new miracle material that is destined to revolutionize just about any industry you can think of.

Medicine and biotechnology … electronics … energy … computers … they'll each be revolutionized by this new substance.

For instance:

Doctors will soon use it to create implants that will end brain disease…

Technologists will use it to take the power of 1,000 mainframe computers and hardwire it into your smartphone …

And biotechnologists will use this very same substance to work as "synthetic blood."

I'm talking, of course, about graphene – a substance that I like to refer to as the "miracle material" of the 21st century.

You see, I've been following this exotic new substance for some time now and am struck by the high level of interest you readers have in this unique form of graphite (which, of course, is the stuff that's in the tip of your pencil).

And these days, I get more comments and questions about graphene than I do on any other high-tech topic that I cover.

So today I'm going to tell you about two brand-new breakthroughs that will hasten graphene's arrival as a commercially viable substance.

And I'm also going to show you how graphene can put profits right into your pocket.

More Graphene Miracles

Let's start with the two breakthroughs …

The first – a recent discovery at the University of California at Los Angeles — is a double win for the new material … and for the entire electronics sector. You see, a research team there devised tiny devices that can charge and discharge power up to 1,000 times faster than standard batteries.

Because of the proliferation of batteries in portable electronics, this breakthrough could have a huge impact: It could affect everything from smartphones to cardiology pacemakers.

The technical term for this new gadget is "micro super-capacitor."  And the name says it all: The devices are small, but extremely powerful.

Capacitors have been in widespread use in electronic devices for a long time – and, in fact, have been integral to the electronics revolution. Their job is to store and release current in very controlled amounts. Without this circuit-board traffic cop, your gear would break down on a regular basis … or simply crash.

But the electrical engineers who design all this stuff haven't been able to make the devices any smaller on a cost-effective basis because they can't figure out how to further shrink the capacitors that have to go inside them.

But that may be about to change – thanks to graphene and an innovative new production process.

The UCLA research team used a consumer-grade DVD burner to produce these super-small super-capacitors from graphene at a fraction of the cost of standard techniques.

Team members simply glued a layer of plastic onto the surface of a DVD. Then they coated it with a layer of a substance known as graphite oxide that is used to synthesize graphene.

The new devices offer another big advantage: They're easy to bend and twist. Ultimately, that means they could work for energy storage in flexible electronics like roll-up TV screens and e-readers. 

Even "wearable" electronic devices become possible.

In the second breakthrough, a British research team says it's found a way to overcome one of the key obstacles that right now limit graphene's use in electronics.

I'm talking about defects.

With current methods, small flakes of graphene form in random ways. That process leaves defects, or "seams," between flakes when they join together.

The seams prevent electrons from flowing freely in graphene, which so far has limited its use in electronics.

But a team at Oxford University devised a way to align the graphene's carbon atoms using a cheap piece of copper foil. Team members said the copper surface's atomic structure acts as a "guide" that controls how the carbon atoms grow on top.

"Our discovery shows that it is possible to produce large sheets of graphene where these flakes, called "domains,' are well-aligned," said team leader Nicole Grobert. This, she said "will create a neater, stronger, and more "electron-friendly' material."

What this means is that, in theory, the only thing now limiting the size of the graphene sheet that engineers will be able to create will be the size of the copper sheet itself.

This advance is "an important step towards finding a way of manufacturing graphene in a controlled fashion at an industrial scale," Grobert said. And this "is essential if we are to bridge the gap between fundamental research and building useful graphene-based technologies."

Once you factor in these new developments, there's only one conclusion you can reach: Graphene is more likely than ever to become a commercially viable material that will help transform the world around us in profound ways.

And that means that we have an opportunity to invest in a product that's going to become a ubiquitous part of our lives.

Naysayers will counter by stating that there's currently no "pure-play" investment in graphene.

That's true … but it doesn't mean there aren't any early-stage profit opportunities.

How to Invest in Graphene

Among graphite plays, there is a true "penny stock" that is extremely intriguing. Like all penny stocks, it's extremely risky.

But unlike most other penny-stock ventures, it appears to be very well run. If it continues along its present course, I think it'll one day produce graphene.

This European play is Flinders Resources Ltd. (TSX.V: FDR/ OTC: FLNXF). Flinders was founded by two of the world's top rare-earths experts. So, they have both mining and materials down cold.

This is just the start. New profit opportunities – including pure-play stocks and even ETFs – will emerge as scientists push graphene into the mainstream.

This experience is bound to be enriching … as well as exciting.

Think of yourself as a high-tech "wildcatter." But instead of oil, we're prospecting for profit plays in this exotic new material … graphene.

Like any wildcatter, you need to manage your capital and control your risk as much as possible … so you always have enough for the next profit play.

And you have to be vigilant, watching your current holdings carefully even as you keep scanning the horizon for new opportunities.

Here at the Era of Radical Change, we'll help you do both.

[Editor's Note: We're grateful for the big surge in comments, postings, questions and e-mails. Please keep them coming. Many of you have also asked about subscribing. If you want to do that, it's easy ... and it's free (not many deals like that left these days). Just drop a note to our customer-service folks at CustomerService@EraOfRadicalChange.com. Put "ERC Subscription Request" in the subject line. And they'll take care of you.]

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About the Author

Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.

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  1. RetireFund | March 6, 2013

    Great picks in the infant graphene market here. Wondering why you left out Focus Graphite (TSX-V FMS) and it's private subsidiary, Grafoid, from this list?

  2. Eugene Bazile | March 9, 2013

    I would like to Invest n graphene git me up email me

  3. Andrew P. Hutton | March 12, 2013

    Sir,

    I'm going to suggest you might want to be a tad more thorough when researching graphene "pure plays."

    Our company, Grafoid Inc., currently a private company, is owned in part by publicly-traded Focus Graphite Inc., trading as FMS on the TSX-Venture Exchange and as FCSMF on the OTCQX.

    Grafoid anticipates a public listing later this year or in early 2014.

    We currently hold 14 graphene industrial application developments in joint ventures with some of the most prestigious institutions and corporations in the world. And we've targeted another 42 graphene projects for development.

    The last thing we are in the world is a "wildcatter."

    Thanks.

    • Editor | March 12, 2013

      Mr. Hutton, we appreciate you writing.

      Please note that Michael Robinson did not mention your company, Grafoid, anywhere in this article. One of our readers simply left a comment on the story asking about Grafoid. Nor did we call Grafoid (or any company discussed here) a "wildcatter." That term is simply a metaphor for the nature of any investment in the graphene sub-sector right now – which is to say, speculative.

      Thanks again for your interest.

  4. M.Crook | March 13, 2013

    As noted by other posters, i find it difficult to understand how you could have missed Focus Graphite (FMS.V) and their 40% ownership of pure Graphene play with Grafoid Inc. They are the only junior Graphite company with any credible agreements (Rutgers, CVD, Ireq) for Graphene composites and next generation battery development. They hosted the Graphene conference last two years. It is about the only pure Graphene play in the public domain at the moment.

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