Mar. 9th, 2018


Mar. 9th, 2018 11:12 am
miriam_e: from my drawing MoonGirl (Default)
I think in the future much of our electronics might be carbon-based rather than silicon-based. Graphene -- a single layer of carbon atoms in a flat hexagonal sheet -- has a lot of fascinating properties. It turns out that two layers of graphene where one layer is rotated 1.1 degrees with respect to another becomes a superconductor (conducts electricity without resistance). Unfortunately this double layer of graphene has to be cooled to about –271° Celsius to show this effect. It has another interesting trick too: apply an electric field and it turns into an insulator. That is, it can be a switch. (See )

Graphene is also much stronger than steel, is flexible, and can be made at very low energy. At normal temperatures graphene is about 40% better conductor of electricity than copper, yet far lighter. The raw material (carbon) is one of the most common on Earth, and if we made carbon-based things out of thin air, like plants do, building their structures from carbon dioxide, we might help counter greenhouse gas build-up.

The biggest drawback is that we don't yet know how to routinely construct arbitrarily large flawless sheets of it. But you can bet we will solve it.

A prediction from me: I think cables made from long graphene tubes (also called bucky tubes) wound together will be used to make the space elevator, which will bring extremely cheap space travel to everyone.


miriam_e: from my drawing MoonGirl (Default)

November 2018

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