I am sure you have seen a few of those random e-mails dropping into your inbox from time to time.
The promise of a new "superfood" that burns fat by its mere consumption. Eat your way to the body of a model!
Not surprisingly, not only are these e-mails the bearer of wonderfully good news, but they make the process of purchasing this new "superfood" incredibly easy to achieve.
Just click on this link and your health problems will be solved forever!
Please don't shoot the messenger, but I'm sorry to tell you the idea of a negative-calorie food is just that. An idea.
What I want to talk to you about is not a superfood but a super-material.
All hail graphene! Although the possibility of graphene and potential properties of the material had been discussed and theorised as far back as 1859, the world started to take notice of graphene in 2004.
That was when Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester used some common sticky tape to further isolate and investigate graphene, which ultimately led to the pair jointly winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
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Why the excitement?
Graphene is both the thinnest and strongest material known to science and it conducts electricity better than copper.
The Nobel announcement illustrated some of its properties by saying that a sheet of graphene that was one square metre in size would support a four-kilogram cat, but would weigh the equivalent of one of the cat's whiskers!
Despite its properties, the worldwide market for graphene was only $US9 million in 2012.
This year the market will hit $US1.1 billion and by 2028 will be worth $US8 billion as a variety of uses are found for this wonder material.
Concrete is being produced that has only 0.1 per cent of graphene.
That small volume increases the strength of the concrete to the point that 30 per cent less material is required to achieve the same strength and trials are being conducted to remove reinforcing steel bars.
If you buy a Ford F-150 in the US, 12 components in the engine bay feature graphene.
While originally being used to increase strength and reduce weight, tests during manufacturing showed that graphene was actually more useful in reducing noise and improving heat resistance.
Paint manufacturers are using tiny flakes of graphene to improve the durability of coatings and helping to ward off rust when applied to metal. Water and corrosive ions can't penetrate through the graphene infused coating therefore improving the protection qualities.
It is estimated that in the US alone, two smartphone screens are cracked every second.
Imagine a smartphone with a tougher screen with better touch sensitivity. Welcome graphene to the touch screen space. Already we have seen demonstration bendable screens with incredible strength plus portable computers and e-paper.
Carbon-fibre has increasingly been the material of choice for modern plane manufacturers as they look for lighter and stronger materials to reduce weight and improve safety. Within a decade we will be flying in planes that will utilise some form of epoxy featuring graphene.
Hopefully you will never need one, but body armour made using graphene has already been demonstrated to perform twice as well as Kevlar and withstand ten times the kinetic energy that steel can.
Is there no end for the applications of this wonder material?
Superior photovoltaic cells; faster charging and higher energy density rechargeable batteries; filters in water filtration systems; invisibility cloaks ... Okay, so I went too far but, with all the other applications of graphene, that last one wouldn't surprise me!
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