13-04-2016 | | By Paul Whytock
A few weeks ago I wrote about how that incredibly lightweight and microscopic material graphene was poised to become a heavyweight contender in terms of its global usage. And that statement has now been born out in a new report called World Graphene published by the Freedonia Group, a division of MarketResearch.com
Well established now as a material that can revolutionise electronic technology, this latest report suggests that global sales of graphene are expected to hit around €2 billion by the year 2035. Just how precise this figure is has to be subject to a certain amount of debate and in my view it wont take another twenty years for sales to get near that figure, although stanene, another 2D material may create a dip in the graphene sale graph.
One of the important factors quoted in the report that is driving the upward sales curve of graphene is the growth in applications which demonstrate a technical readiness to fully exploit the material.
Amongst these advanced areas that are poised to leap on the graphene wagon are graphene-based polymer composites, lithium-ion batteries, integrated circuits photovoltaic cells, touch screen electrodes, optical electronics, supercapacitors, high-frequency transistors, sensors and biomedical technologies.
Interacting with brain neurons
Regarding the biomedical applications it has been found that graphene-based electrodes have the ability to interact with brain neurons without altering or damaging the neural functions. One of the reasons for this is that graphene electrodes in the human body remain more stable than silicon or tungsten-based electronics. Scientific research is showing it may help in restoring sensory function or motor disorders such as those caused by Parkinson’s disease.
The report says that the US is forecast to remain the leading national market for graphene through to 2035, bolstered by growing use in high-performance composites and energy storage devices, as well as by increasing R&D in advanced electronics. As a global region the Asia/Pacific territories will rank as the top regional consumer of graphene, driven by the advanced electronics and energy storage industries of Japan, China, and South Korea.
New wonder material
But will a new wonder material that has been referred to as a cousin of graphene put a dent in those market predictions for graphene?
Stanene is a 2D material that is composed of tin atoms arranged in a single, hexagonal layer and is very similar to graphene. Its name is derived from a combination of stannum, the Latin name for tin and 'ene as used in graphene.
Sometimes 2D materials are designated single layer materials and are crystalline materials made up of a single layer of atoms. Since the creation of graphene, which is a single layer of graphite, considerable research has been invested in creating other 2D for use in applications such as photovoltaics, semiconductors, electrodes.
It looks highly likely that Stanene has as big a future as graphene.