A radical new material made from a single carbon atom will soon have a pervasive impact on the U.S. economy – and the entire human race.
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.
The possible uses are limitless.
No wonder the two scientists who discovered this substance won the Nobel Prize in physics last year. That alone should tell you something.
It often takes decades for scientific breakthroughs like this to bag the world's biggest award. But these two Russians won it for a substance discovered just seven years ago.
The material that I'm talking about is called "graphene." And you might have guessed, graphene is related to the graphite used in pencils.
Graphene: The Miracle Material
If you've never before heard of graphene, don't worry – few investors have.
In fact, most people have never seen anything quite like this new miracle material.
But it won't be long before you (and your portfolio) can be benefiting from its potential.
Even as you read this, researchers and scientists are looking for ways to transform this discovery into the Next Big Thing.
Indeed, my Pentagon sources say military leaders want to learn how graphene will lead to victory on the battlefields of the future. Tech leaders such as International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. hope graphene will be the foundation of the next generation of cutting-edge products.
And we can already see how graphene will spawn a true revolution in wireless communications.
We'll soon be able to launch satellites that are the size of skyscrapers – but that weigh less than your patio barbecue grill.
You'll download hi-def video to your smartphone in nanoseconds. If you want to know who'll win the current marketplace smartphone brawl, watch who makes the best use of graphene.
Then there's biotech.
Thanks to graphene, doctors will be able to use high doses of new drugs that are lethal to cancer cells – without getting you sick or harming healthy cells.
They'll use the substance to make synthetic blood. We'll no longer have to fret about whether supplies are infected by a deadly virus, or waste precious minutes matching rare blood types.
Graphene could serve as a miracle panacea for an aging America.
Though we're already living longer and fuller lives, the reality is that millions of us still face age-related health problems. But thanks to a scientist at Wayne State University, doctors may someday be able to combat
Alzheimer's by inserting graphene electrodes into a patient's brain.
While current devices last only a few months, the Wayne State researcher believes his implants will last as long as five years – improving the quality of life for millions.
Other graphene implants will target spinal cord injuries, and even blindness.
Just three weeks ago, researchers at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio said a form of graphene could be used to grow human tissue. The ramifications are huge: Lab-grown human hearts that can last, disease-free, for a hundred years may one day help children with birth defects or adults with heart disease.
The Air Force team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base listed a wide range of other uses. These include making a new class of drugs, as well as growing organisms that can yield bio-green energy.
Meantime, graphene will make the U.S. military even more effective. Our soldiers will use "invisibility cloaks" to make tanks and jeeps "disappear" from enemy view.
Last month, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas used carbon nanotubes to hide objects in plain sight. Funded by the Pentagon, the scientists found that bending light in certain ways created the "mirage" that objects weren't really there.
Given those insights, just think what graphene can do for computing. By the end of this decade you'll have the power of 10,000 mainframes in the palm of your hand.
Last year, scientists at the Rensselaer Institute in Troy, NY, cleared a big hurdle in nanoelectronics. The researchers proved they could transform ultra-thin sheets of graphene into tiny transistors, forming the basis of the computers and solid-state nanocircuits of the future.
Even your revolutionary flat-screen TV could become obsolete – thanks to a graphene-based LED screen that's as thin as Saran Wrap. But think of the benefits: You'll be able to roll up your giant TV, take it to a friend's house, and hang it on the wall to watch the Super Bowl.
Remaining Challenges Will Keep it Interesting
Naturally, there are still problems to be solved, and obstacles to be hurdled before graphene can become a household name. To this point, for instance, researchers haven't figured out an easy way to use graphene as the basis for robust electrical devices.
But I am confident we'll solve this problem.
How can I be so sure? Last September, a team in the United Kingdom discovered that graphene could yield "perfect" solar cells. Turns out these panels absorb a much wider range of light than existing panels, greatly improving the payoff from the sun.
And that's not all. This same group of researchers found that graphene could have a radical impact on computing and communications. The reason: The material outperforms silicon for semiconductors and can be tailored for systems that use light rather – than electricity – to relay voice, video and data. My money's on this team. The reason I feel this way: This U.K.-based research team includes the two Nobel laureates I mentioned earlier. If any one can visualize the potential power of graphene, it's these two guys.
Investing In Graphene Stock: How To Get "In" On This Miracle Material
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. The material made waves recently when researchers from Zhejiang University showed how asolid block of the stuff can balance on the tips of the petals of a small, delicate cherry flower.
- 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.
How to Invest in Graphene Stock
By now, you're probably champing at the bit for ways in which to invest in this "miracle material." So here's the deal.
As far as retail investors are concerned, graphene is a very limited market – at least for now.
First, there's no good way to invest in graphene – or the graphite carbon it's made from – as a commodity.
That's because China controls roughly 70% of the market, much as it dominates more than 95% of the world's "rare earths" market, and Beijing is both limiting exports and charging a 20% export duty on graphene. That's one reason its price has more than tripled in the past five years.
Now, there are a couple publicly traded Western graphite miners that are on track to produce graphene. But investing in any is an ultra-speculative proposition at this point. Most of them either haven't shown a profit at any time over the past five years, and trading volume on these stocks is thin, with notoriously large bid-ask spreads.
Second, there are some graphene-related companies, like Michigan-based XG Sciences Inc., one of the largest U.S. graphene suppliers. It manufactures and sells "nanoplatelets" and develops specialized graphene products using them. But it's privately held and shows no sign of going public.
Third, there's no real pure play in graphene research, development or manufacturing, either – but there are certainly opportunities coming down the pipeline.
Around the world, governments, universities, energy companies and major corporations are pouring huge dollar amounts into graphene research and product development. Great Britain, for example, just dedicated $120 million to further graphene work at the University of Manchester; South Korea has announced $300 million in graphene projects; and the U.S. military is studying potential applications in aircraft, missiles and other high-speed, light-weight equipment.
On the corporate front, several big companies are working on graphene research and applications. We're particularly interested by one large international player that's already working to bring graphene products to market in everyday products and truly commercialize this material for the first time. We're tracking that story every day. It's not quite ripe for investment, but when it is, you'll be the first to hear it.
No doubt, graphene offers remarkable possibilities. It also offers substantial profits for investors, but finding the right vehicle to catch the graphene wave will be a challenge – requiring both patience and close attention.
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