Jan 25 2013
Researchers working at the Duke University School of Engineering have announced a remarkable, new application for graphene. In case you’ve missed our PID Radio discussions of graphene from 2010, here’s a quick review. Discovered in 1962, graphene is another form or ‘allele’ of carbon. Graphene is essentially a one atom thick plane of pure carbon arranged in a pattern that resembles chicken wire. Since the initial description in 1962 by Hanns-Peter Boehm, the allele drew little attention until 2010, when Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester ”for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”. (Source: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2010/).
Since 2010, graphene’s unique properties have spawned a new and lucrative industry that includes integrated circuitry and transistors, touchscreens and other electronic displays (including ‘organic’ light emitting diodes), electrochemical cells, desalination, solar cells, graphene nanoribbons and quantum dots, and as a medium for biomedical devices and even DNA sequencing. Now, Duke’s team have discovered that graphene can be controllably crumpled and uncrumpled, leading to speculation that these super thin sheets could become artificial muscle.
Now, there’s the big clue. If you re-read the list of potential uses above and add the newly discovered ‘artificial muscle’ application, then you might begin to see what I’m seeing: that scientists have nearly all the basic pieces to assemble a Cylon. Graphene even has a counterpart called silicene, which forms single layers of pure silicon. Unlike graphene, silicene is not completely flat. Adding hydrogen (hydrogenation) of silicenes yields silicanes, yielding heat as a result (exothermic reaction). Silicene might prove handy for storing hydrogen. My imagination pictures silicene ‘skin’ or even silicene ‘lung’ tissue or even the energy behind an ‘artificial heart’.
If published reports of scientific discoveries truly is 20-40 years behind black-ops labs, then graphene and silicene have very possibly served as building blocks for the new Adam. Craig Ventor, George Church, and Ray Kurzweil must be delighted.
To read more about Duke University’s discovery, see: Controlled crumpling of graphene forms artificial muscle.
- Graphene: Patent surge reveals global race
- An Analysis of Worldwide Patent Filings Relating to Graphene (pdf)
- Graphene Patent Tracker