Is graphene a good investment?
Why we chose to address this question?
This is an often-asked question. On one hand, we would like to keep this site away from
getting commercialized, while on the other hand, we want to provide our visitors with
the best information and provide answers to common questions about graphene. The answer is
not simple and definitely not short, so please bear with us and read the whole text, if you
are serious about investing in graphene.
Graphene is new technology
Graphene is a relatively new material. Even so, current research shows that it might well
replace silicon in the coming years. There are hundreds of papers written on graphene every
year, there are many patents submitted which cover the graphene manufacuturing process,
many scientists are working on graphene research and lots of funds are being invested
in this research.
The big players in the graphene game are companies such as Intel, IBM, Dow Chemicals and BASF.
Intel and IBM are looking for ways to introduce graphene in the production of electronic
chips, while Dow Chemicals and BASF are more concerned about using graphene to change the
physical and chemical properties of other materials. Nokia is getting into graphene research
alongside with others. They have received a 1.3 billion dollars grant from the European Union.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see Samsung jump in as well. There are, of course, others.
We will list them as more information becomes available.
There is also a number of small companies, some of which are privately owned, which aim to
make a breakthrough in graphene technology. Some of them are graphene manufacturers, basically
chemistry labs. Another type are R&D companies which use graphene to create new technology and
devices, like supercapacitors and graphene batteries. These young companies could be a good
graphene investment option because they have a great potential to expand in case they
manage to make a useful patent.
Investing in graphene related materials
It should be noted that companies which are able to manufacture graphene have the tehnology
and tools to manufacture some other interesting carbon molecules, such as nanotubes,
buckyballs and so on. These are going through extensive research for use in the electronics
industry, as well as pharmaceutical industry and advanced materials industry. These compounds
can be used to make improved steels and other materials which could find great use in all
branches, such as construction or chemistry.
Is graphene really worth all the hype?
Graphene is very unique and the hype is not expected to end soon. Some sources state that it will
take at least 20 years of continuous research to uncover the complete array of potential uses.
Therefore, investing in graphene is not seen as a hit-and-run deal. It has the potential to be a
great source of income in the future, at least for the following 20 years.
To answer the question: yes. Graphene is unique and it is worth the attention it is being given.
The fact that the EU granted nokia 1.3 billion in spite of the recession and all the financial
problems is a good indicator of where the technology is being headed.
Graphene is made from carbon atoms. Carbon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, and
all known life-forms are carbon-based. The most important source of carbon is graphite.
Therefore, in order to manufacture graphene and other related compounds, the manufacturer
needs to have access to large amounts of graphite.
The largest graphite mines are located in China, India, Brazil and North Korea. China is by far
the largest graphite supplier, and 73% of world’s graphite is mined in China. However, they have
already recognized the importance of graphite in the future and have imposed significant taxes on
graphite ore export. Investing in graphite mines is another potentially good move,
especially if the need for graphite increases sharply in the future. It could be a good alternative
to investing in graphene, since graphite is the ore from which graphene is made.
Is graphene investment a good idea?
In a word, yes. It’s a solid idea with great potential. Not all great ideas are recognized at first.
The telephone was rejected as an idea by investors - nobody believed it would have such widespread use
as today. However, investing in graphene doesn’t come without any risks.
We will try to explain the pros and cons of graphene investment,
based on the currently available information. As more information becomes available, we will update
this page, so make sure to follow us regularely.
Pros of investing in graphene:
Graphene is dubbed a wonder material by many people, even in scientific circles.
This is due to a large number of unique properties such as
high electron mobility, unusual strength, high porosity, tremendeous surface area to weight
ratio, extreme conductivity (more conductive than silver), lightness and so on. This combination
of properties is not seen in any other advanced material. A material with so many good
properties is bound to have many interesting uses in all sorts of industries.
It is also a new technology, so there is a lot of space for future improvement.
Based on this, graphene could become a valuable resource, and early investments
could bring high yields. Of course, investing in graphene is risky, but that’s exactly what
makes it high yield.
A potential pro is that most companies who are focused on graphite derivates are relatively young.
They are not big players and as such have potential to grow exponentially if they manage to make
a technology breakthrough. Remember, the latest breakthrough in graphene manufacturing was done
by an undergraduate student in a small lab, using a consumer-grade DVD burner. Since the technology
is young, anyone could make a breakthrough and discover something really significant, even though
they don’t have access to expensive equipment.
Cons of investing in graphene:
On the other hand, graphene could be a dead end. There are many problems associated with
the mass production of graphene. One of them is a high manufacturing price, but this is expected
to become less of a problem as time goes on and new technologies are discovered. Another probem
lies in one of graphene’s greatest strengths: high electron mobility and the resulting high
conductivity. This might not be an obvious drawback at first,
but consider this: one of graphene’s greatest potential
uses is in the electronics industry. Scientists hope to replace silicon-based transistor with
graphene-based transistors. The problem: A transistor is a switch. A silicon-based transistor
can be turned ON and OFF using electrical current. A graphene-based transistor is a lousy switch
because, using current technology, it is either ON, or PARTIALLY ON. If we were to build a CPU
using graphene transistors, it would consume enormous amounts of power, and power equals heat,
so that’s one very limiting factor. Such a CPU would be very fast, but would overheat in seconds.
Scientists are working on ways to change this property of graphene in such a way to retain
(most) of the electron mobility, but also to make graphene less conductive. If this works out
well, then graphene technology will explode and the industry will turn to graphene. If this
happens, then graphene will definitely be a good investment. However, if it proves impossible,
then it could be a bad investment option, at least if you plan to invest in companies that
use graphene in electronics industry. Graphene could still be used in other areas, so
investing in companies that manufacture graphene could be a lower-risk idea.
How to invest in graphene?
Once you’ve figured out if graphene investment is the right path for you, there is a number of ways
you could invest in graphene and associated technologies. It’s not really that simple, though,
because it’s a new material and the market is not yet developed. You can’t buy or sell graphene
like you can buy and sell gold or diamonds (also a carbon molecule). However, you can invest
in companies which are in the manufacturing chain, or which perform research and development
using graphene as the base material.
Investing in graphite mines could be a good option. Even if graphene turns out to be all talk
and no show, graphite will still have well-established uses. For example, it takes up to 40 times more graphite
than lithium to produce a Li-Ion battery. Furthermore, there is a huge
potential if graphene manages to find its way into consumer devices. The prices of graphite have almost
tripled since 2005. The USA and EU see graphite as a supply critical mineral. As we said above, the world's
largest producers of graphite are currently China, Brasil, India, North Korea and Canada.
China's mines are operated by the government and there is no easy way to invest in them. One of the largest
mines is the Xinghe Graphite Mine.
Canada is ready to open a new mine in 2014. The company behind this project is Northern Graphite. They are listed
on TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol NGC and on OTCQX under the symbol NGPHF. Investing in these stocks could
turn out to be very profitable, since the project is at its beginning and feasibility studies are positive.
The stock market is never risk-free, but it seems like investing in graphene stocks through investing in graphite
mining companies has a large potential.
Once graphite ore is dug out, it needs to undergo a series before it is turned into graphene. One of the steps is
called CVD - Chemical Vapour Deposition. It is used to coat a material with a thin layer of another material. In
our case, CVD is used to deposit a single layer of carbon atoms onto a substrate, most often copper. The CVD
process is widely used in the electronics industry and is not limited to graphene.
There are several large companies which specialize in CVD equpiment. One of them is Aixtron, which is listed on
NASDAQ under the symbol AIXG. Another company to keep an eye on is CVD Equipment Corp., which is listed on NASDAQ under
the symbol CVV. ASM International goes by the symbol ASMI on NASDAQ and also deals with CVD technology.
There are several others, such as Applied Materials Inc., Genus, Jipelec, Trikon and FHR Anlagenbau GmbH,
to name a few.
CVD equipment is heavily relied on during the standard manufacturing process for silicon ICs. Many other processes use
CVD, so this kind of equipment will be essential for at least another 15-20 years. It is the best and cleanest way to
coat solids with precisely controlled amounts of other materials.
Having in mind that graphene is a layer of carbon which is only one atom thick, a spec of dust looks gigantic compared to
the thickness of graphene. This is why there are sensitive processes which must be done in a clean room. Clean rooms are
used to control the number of particles in the air that could contaminate the workpiece. Some clean rooms are small, but
are huge, encapsulating an entire factory and covering hundreds of square meters. They are indispensible in the
manufacturing of integrated circuits, and their use is widespread.
There is a large number of clean room manufacturers. Basan, Kyodo Allied, Particle Measuring Systems, Oak Technical and
Camfil Farr are some of the names in the industry.
Graphene is manufactured and sold by only a few companies in the whole world.
Some of them are Graphenea, Graphene Square, Graphene Supermarket
Because of the rising interest in graphene manufacturers, we are now offering a separate
page with more information. To access it, click here:
List of Graphene Manufacturers
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This page was last modified: May 10th, 2013.