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back to article Graphene photocells could mean hyper-speed internet

The latest study of miracle material graphene shows it could be used to provide a much higher speed internet. Yet another application for the boffin collective's research darling could be high-speed optical communications, which hadn't seemed like a practical application up to now because graphene absorbs so little light, just …

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Coat

Graphene...

... is there anything it can't do?

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Coat

... is there anything it can't do?

It's not very good in pencils ...

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Seduce...

...an unwilling panda?

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It's in pencils

If I recall correctly, it was discovered using a pencil and some scotch tape.

If they'd used duct tape instead we'd have a space elevator by now I'm sure.

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Coat

au contraire

Graphene is very good in pencils. It slides off the graphite very easily and then sticks to the paper, allowing you to see the path the pencil took.

Although according to my wife, you can't decipher anything from the shapes I leave on the paper (Engineers' writing is almost as bad as doctors'), so in my case it doesn't help.

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Black Helicopters

@Graphene

...And it's climate-change-friendly (well, the CO2=global warming aspect at least), since as uses of graphene increase, it acts as a bigger and bigger carbon sink!

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Stop

'seeing the path the pencil 'took'

Isn't that what normal pencils do?

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Happy

Carbon Fibre replacement?

I'd like to see it replace tradition carbon fibre.

Particularly in bicycle frames; I'm sure my existing carbon fibre job is at least 3kg too heavy. It's definitely nothing to do with all the pies I've eaten recently...

Then again, it's massive tensile strength may end up being a hinderance (some compliance needs to be built in to stop it being too stiff). If they can't get it working with conventional Carbon fibre (see Ducati in motoGP), i doubt they'll get the graphene edition working either.

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Thumb Up

Any chance this will reduce the need for Rare Earth Metals ?

just as China buys them all up

(For some reason I'm remembering the Volkswagon ad ...)

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Ru
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Probably not, no

But rare earth metals aren't really all that rare; just economically unviable. If China never give any to anyone else again, a) they'll still sell us devices made from them and b) everyone else's reserves suddenly become valuable enough to be worth extracting.

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Gold badge

Rare Earth Metals

I seem to remember reading that Rare Earth Metals aren't really that rare; although they aren't easy to separate and purify.

As with most things, you used to get them in lots of places (including America), then everyone decided it was cheaper/easier to buy them from China and stop doing it themselves. That was great until people wanted China to make everything, so now China use most of the REM that they produce, meaning that it's harder for anyone else to buy them.

America and other countries could start processing them themselves again, but it's far easier to just bitch on about China (who are only in that position because everyone put them there; also to be honest if you only had enough food for you, you wouldn't go selling it to others, now would you).

As for reducing the need for REMs, not much. The lasers that you want to use for the transmission end will want a little Nd. Plus all the magnets for all the windmills to power them want loads more Nd, plus there's no point in having fast internet without screens etc, more REMs...

I stand back waiting to be flamed because I've totally misinterpreted the state of things.

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Boffin

Rare-earth replacement...

I was just thinking the same thing.

It seems that graphene films can be fairly easily synthesised by chemical vapour deposition onto copper and nickel surfaces (which are arguably not "rare," relative to the "rare-earth metals" sense), then transferred onto any substrate suitable to the task at hand:

-- Nature: Category - Nanotechnology:

-- -- Roll-to-roll production of 30-inch graphene films for transparent electrodes:

-- -- http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v5/n8/full/nnano.2010.132.html

-- Nature: Category - Paid-Access Article - Abstract:

-- -- Large-scale pattern growth of graphene films for stretchable transparent electrodes:

-- -- http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7230/full/nature07719.html

Combine an efficient method of constructing large-scale graphene sheets with a working MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) fabrication line, and we really could be on the way toward constructing those ultra-strength cables needed to build a practical Space Elevator...

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China, Progress, Food

That's EXACTLY what China did! They swapped the food for their own people to Russia for technology in order to make up for lost time due to internal upheavals, etc. Over 40 million died.

What was that about graphene again?

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@Ru

and c) people look for alternatives, making China's stash less valuable.

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Coffee/keyboard

Sungkyunkwan??!?!

Sorry, peurile, I know. But I need a new keyboard.

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Thumb Down

No doubt there's a joke I'm missing here

I mean, it couldn't be that you're laughing at a collection of syllables which carry no humour in spelling or pronunciation merely because they're in another language.

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Mushroom

@Jedit

Perhaps you just can't see it from all the way up there on your bleedin' moral high-horse.

Jeez. Way to strip the fun outa something, nimrod!

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Trollface

samsung innovates

How long before apple claim they invented graphene and take samsung to court for using it?

<-- obvious is obvious

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Happy

RE "samsung innovates "

Happily I am in a position (as a researcher in organic chemistry) to reassure you that graphene has a planer hexagonal structure and is definitely *not* rectangular with rounded corners. Even Cupertino will not be able to fire off writs over this one. Furthermore it was discovered in 1962 (first described by Hanns-Peter Boehm) a couple of decades or so before Apple was founded which should ensure that prior art applies regardless of any claims by the iPhanbois that Apple developed the iTardis in the early 1960s. -:)

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Joke

Lawsuit

"Samsung, in partnership with Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, has already demonstrated a 25-inch flexible touchscreen using graphene"

Apple is preparing a patent lawsuit against Samsung for the use of flexibility on touchscreens, which they still haven't patented but they invented it anyway.

...

They invented it, no?

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Wrong end of the stick

Samsung can't bring a product to market because they don't have an Apple one to copy.

The lawsuits are about "trade dress", nothing else.

N.B. Before you start blindly clicking the down vote button, I am not making any statements about the merits of the case on either side, just pointing out what they are about.

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Trollface

Apple are going to feel pretty silly

If Samsung patent a great new technology and decides not to sell them to Apple.

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Happy

What I find especially hilarious ...

... is that Geim, one of the discoverers/isolators of this remarkable material that will no doubt add enormously to science and revolutionise technology, won an Ig Nobel Price in 2000 for magnetically levitating a live frog. Ten years later, he became the first person to win both a Nobel Price and an Ig!

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g e
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i hope the Manchester guys patented this stuff

Seriously.

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Boffin

It's not really an invention

I suppose the 'discoverer' could patent his process of producing graphene sheets (using sticky tape on a lump of graphite), but I suspect there are now better ways of making the stuff known. Graphene itself has been known about (at least theoretically) for much longer, I recall being lectured on the stuff at university back in the '90s. It is, after all, just a single layer of graphite one atom thick. The Romans were using graphite for writing more than 2000 years ago, if that's not prior art, I don't know what is...

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Joke

@Loyal

"Romans were using graphite for writing more than 2000 years ago, if that's not prior art..."

I don't know about you, but I've seen their drawings, and well, "is it art?" I think that pickled sheep in fish tanks are much more like it.

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Ru
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Facepalm

Please list every discovered Roman touchscreen or integrated circuit

The application of a novel material to old problems is almost certainly patentable. The fact that there is already a primitive method for harvesting graphene will not prevent someone who discovers an industrial scale mechanism from patenting it, and patent it they will as it will clearly be the Next Big Thing.

Making devices from graphene will not be done using today's silicon wafer tools and processes. New processes, whole new toolchain, new fabs. Patents all the way down.

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RE: It's not really an invention

Neither is DNA, but it's still patentable.

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Megaphone

@Ru

"Making devices from graphene will not be done using today's silicon wafer tools and processes. New processes, whole new toolchain, new fabs. Patents all the way down."

Indeed Ru, I agree with you. They will in fact have to be *solid* *old style* patents that actually demonstrate a *working* process. Not vapourware inventions with no accompanying working prototype, purely designed to poison as large an area of the market as possible without any intention of ever actually manufacturing something.

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Anonymous Coward

One patents

the use/utility

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Bronze badge
WTF?

patents

Yes, what have we got ourselves into?

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Coat

Really?

I got mine from me Dad

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Not quite

You patent the novelty of something saleable.

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Patent

As Tim Berners-Lee did with the World Wide Web, I hope they just gift this discovery/invention to the world - especially if it's as amazing as people think.

Let's not spoil it with lawsuits!

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Mushroom

Cone of Silence

Hyperspeed Internet, right.

I'm in the NY Metro area-- no 3G, no 4G, no telco copper DSL, no fiber, no cable, no terrestrial LOS.... really.

Only satellite (at least I can see the sky). Oh wait, the satellite company damaged the sat modem firmware, and they can't fix it (no parts you see, despite the modem being under warranty-- and they of course want me to pay to fix the Ku band modem if they did have parts, or buy a shiny new Ka band system at my own expense complete with two year contract). The satmodem seems to run a flavor lf Nix, but DMCA keeps me from fixing their clapped out firmware...

Going postal seems the only option left.

Yes, under the Cone of Silence there is quite a bit of iFanBois fat pipe envy!

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Silver badge

The general problem

The problem with the generalisation of "obscene" specs is that it invites equally "obscenely" bloated coding. It is incredibly difficult to find a system allowing you to edit 5 lines of text without a multi-GHz CPU and several G of RAM. The poor sods on dialup are the modern-day "untouchables" and when this new tech hits the streets you'll need at least a T3 for the most modest MSWindows update. Oh well.

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Linux

Errrr....obvious?

Text editing doesn't get much more lightweight than nano. And Xubuntu will run on aaaaaanything.

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Anonymous Coward

I see where this is going~

So this could mean faster Internet, eh?

I guess that means it'll be about >2100 until the UK gets Graphene based Internet...

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Silver badge

... or maybe not

All these new breakthroughs get way overhyped. It is only very seldom that we get to see even a quarter of the theoretical possibilities.

Anyone remember the superconductor hype of the 1980s? Superconductor everything. Well superconductors only showed up in very few niche applications.

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Anonymous Coward

Cool stuff. But...

Is it recyclable? Or just another (200 times the strength of steel!) plastic?

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@AC "recyclable"

It's pure carbon. Take a guess... (Jeez, are some people anonymous just because they're embarrassed at their ignorance?)

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Silver badge

Hooray!

All our spare fossil fuel carbon can now be sequestered in flexible flatscreen TVs! The world is saved again! Huzzah!

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