Want to know why everyone is asking how to invest in graphene?
For starters: It's one of the strongest materials ever known.
It's also as light as a feather. And completely flexible.
Plus, it's not just going to change the latest inventions in the defense industry; it'll be used in everyday life.
For example, imagine charging your mobile phone or tablet in just 30 seconds.
Or pulling up your electric car to a charging station and having a full charge in under a minute.
Here's how graphene makes this future a possibility.
How this "Miracle Material" was Discovered
Carbon-based graphene was initially discovered in the 1960s but rediscovered by two scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, in 2004. They started tinkering with it in the lab and created microscopic flakes.
The real catalyst came when the two changed the flakes into extremely thin sheets. They even won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work with graphene.
They first used scotch tape as part of the graphene manufacturing process, which was extremely impractical.
Now manufacturing entails taking graphite oxide and coating it on a sheet of plastic.
Then it's hit with a laser and oxygenates, which turns it into graphene.
It actually can be made in a DVD drive - the kind you can buy at your local electronics store.
The final product is a material that's one of the strongest and lightest known to man.
Graphene: Revolutionizing the Future
Graphene has been referred to as the 21st century's plastic thanks to its versatility.
It's also inexpensive to produce.
It may also be the heir apparent to silicon chips, according to Bloomberg News.
For years, there have been discussions that graphene could be used tocreate the world's biggest "supercapacitor"; this is an electronic component containing the charge of a battery but a recharge at the speed of a capacitor-or 100 - 1,000 times faster than batteries today.
That's why you could take a gadget that takes hours to charge the battery, but do so in seconds.
How to Invest in Graphene
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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