They’re two of the fastest-growing and arguably most important of today’s tech sectors: lithium-ion and semiconductors.
One is expected to literally power the future as more and more people come to rely on wireless technology and as more of our power grid shifts over to renewables.
The other is expected to provide the technical functionality to allow for things like driverless cars and universal connectivity to become commonplace.
Together, lithium-ion and semiconductors are expected to eventually command a global market capitalization approaching $1.5 trillion a year — almost triple what they’re worth today.
Or, to put this more succinctly: If humanity is to continue along its current path of development, these two industries will need to flourish right along with it.
If they fail, it will mean something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Unless, that is, a new technology — a wild card — emerges to throw everything off…
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Right now, an artificial material with some of the most incredible physical properties known to science looks like it just may become that wild card.
Invented in 2004, this wonder material won its two principle researchers, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
It’s what’s referred to as a “nanostructure,” meaning that it’s engineered on a molecular level, and in its purest form it's just a single atom thick.
This material is called graphene.
It’s 200 times stronger than steel, it conducts heat better than anything else known to man, and a single gram of it could cover a football field.
But it’s when this material is coupled with existing technology that it really shines.
Implement graphene in a rechargeable battery and it will beat a similar lithium-ion unit by a factor of two in charge capacity, by a factor of five in overall service life, and by a factor of up to 70 in charge speed.
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Just think… Tomorrow’s EV owners will be able to charge their vehicles from zero to full capacity in less time than it takes you to fill up your tank at the pump today.
The lithium-ion industry, projected to be worth $200 billion by the end of the decade, could be worth zero if the graphene battery emerges as a competitor.
And that’s just one of graphene's applications.
If manufactured to proper specs, it could also replace silicon as the chief building block of today’s computer chips.
Its superior heat conductivity and unparalleled tensile strength will allow for the manufacture of chips 1/100th the size yet 10 times the speed of current microprocessor benchmarks.
So why hasn’t it happened yet?
The simple answer is cost… Up until quite recently, graphene was almost twice as expensive as gold to produce.
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Thanks to a recent breakthrough, however, that cost has fallen by orders of magnitude.
Today, cheap, high-quality graphene can be produced economically using nothing more than natural gas and electricity.
It can be made to exacting specifications, opening up opportunities within the spectrum of high-volume consumer product applications.
The Brisbane, Australia-based high-tech materials company that owns this process is already leveraging it into a line of rechargeable batteries.
This company has moved past the prototype stage and is now distributing production units to potential clients for testing and evaluation.
If all goes as expected, this could be the first step toward total disruption of the lithium-ion sector in just the next few years.
Could the semiconductor industry be next?
With today’s chip shortages creating a bottleneck in the global economy, all signs point to yes.
Originally published on WealthDaily.com