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What does it take to rush ahead of commercial factories? (graphene)

  1. Feb 1, 2017 #1
    Cheaper ways to make graphene
    I want to try making my own computing parts with graphene.
    What are we capable of now with graphene? What parts can we make? What computations can we do?
    Do we have circuit board limitations?
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  3. Feb 1, 2017 #2


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    What research have you done? What do you know up to this point?
  4. Feb 1, 2017 #3
    None, no research.
    Nothing. I know nothing more than graphene conducts electricity and it's better than copper.

    I get the feeling that brute-forcing questions and trying to pull people together won't help generate a product.
    I guess I'll need a lot of money first, both for marketing to talent and money for resources.
    Well, that's a lot easier than learning everything by myself.
  5. Feb 2, 2017 #4


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  6. Feb 2, 2017 #5


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    So, what ... you expect us to do it for you?
  7. Feb 2, 2017 #6
    That's the article that made me post this topic. This stuff is becoming more abundant and I'm trying to find the most efficient grassroots approach to master lab management & get a wider and tighter wrap around the nature of physics.
    I want to get a block of this stuff (I know they're only 2 dimensional, I'll just stack pages) and see what we can do with it.

    Well this is part of my research. Talking to people, understanding fundamental limits of the technologies.
    I don't think I need to know everything before I start taking steps.
    There is also some money being put out for my projects. Materials mainly, but I am also paying a mathematician to help me with some geometry problem.

    My experience is in computer programming.

    I'm also hoping to gain a lot from people casually discussing results from experiments. I'd like to build a real lab community, that's tangible for people like myself.
    If I learn "substance A in shape X" interacts with "substance B to create shape Y" then I don't need to know all the scientific research around it. I have a useful function that's relevant to my interest.
  8. Feb 2, 2017 #7


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    This sounds like buzzword salad.

    There's a pretty big gulf between knowing nothing and knowing everything.

    Your questions are completely unfocused. If you're trying to commercialize graphene, why should I give you any money when I could give it to any of thousands of top-notch scientists who have been researching this material for the past decade? Finding commercial success hinges on figuring out something people need and filling that need.

    I'm a graphene researcher and here's the dirty secret: no one is commercializing graphene for computer parts (or much of anything else) any time soon. Why would they? Intel and AMD build billion dollar Chip fab foundries based on silicon. The failure rate on those chips is something like one in a billion. The failure rate on most of the devices I work with in the lab is more like one in three. Is intel really gonna say "whoa whoa whoa wait a sec guys, we're making too much money. Let's throw our weight behind some completely unproven technology instead."

    If you want to figure out how to commercialize graphene, you have to hone in on what exactly graphene does that can't be done otherwise. Or failing that, what can graphene do more cheaply. Graphene has been way overhyped for a long long time. It takes a lot of time in the field to cut through the hype to find what's really important. Funding agencies for basic research are starting to shy away from graphene projects because they're notoriously long on promises and short on deliverables. Will graphene ultimately start getting used widely in commercial products (other than overpriced golf clubs)? Probably eventually. But even as someone in the field, I don't see a clear direct path toward any particular product.
  9. Feb 2, 2017 #8
    I'm not trying to mass produce graphene. I'm trying to make practical use of it in electronic devices before doing so as a hobby become irrelevant.
    I've also posted in other forums about CRISPR-cas9 and trying to find a good point where I can start fiddling with that.
    The answer I always get is "go to college first" essentially.

    What it sounds like I need to do is make a lot of money with some other projects and then pay for the research to be done.
  10. Feb 2, 2017 #9


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    This is a weird response. Hobbies by definition are done for fun. I don't see how they can become irrelevant. If you want to play with graphene as a hobby, then just do it. If you have specific questions, I'm sure people will be more willing to help. If your question is just "what can I do with graphene?" you can find out a lot much more quickly from Google than from waiting for a response from a forum member.

    You don't need to go to college. You do need to be willing to do more work than simply asking someone else to do your google searches for you.

    If you are willing to pay someone else to do this unspecified research, then it makes it sounds like you aren't really interested in graphene as a hobby. If you're interested in graphene for commercial purposes, then I refer you to my initial post. But I'm wondering: say you give a group of scientists or engineers $1 million for a year's worth of research time (this will buy a year's worth of time for 5-7 PhD level researchers, or 2-3 researchers if they don't come with their own equipment). How will you know you've gotten your money's worth at the end of that year?

    EDIT: I guess if you're in academia, $1M buys like 50 postdocs :biggrin:
  11. Feb 2, 2017 #10
    It makes perfect sense for me to ask "what are we capable of doing with graphene?". You gave me an answer it would take me days to dig up on google. That answer is "not much really". There is no google search for "what hardware components have we tested in the lab with graphene" that will produce relevant results. The technology is still new. I can't formulate all of my scientific questions like this. It's far too specific (search algorithm wise) to pull up anything relevant.

    Graphene applications are new, to believe I did or did not get my money's worth is foolish. That's like asking Columbus "are you sure it's worth your time & energy sailing over all that water?" They had enough information to take the risk.
    Hopefully I could get two electronic circuit board like systems communicating back and forth. Or at least get one with a programmable interface. or at least achieve some type of computational task. Just a basic logic gate even.
  12. Feb 2, 2017 #11


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    If I type "what can we do with graphene" into google, the very first hit is a Wikipedia page with a list of potential applications (as well as a list of 150+ references for further reading).

    No, we can do plenty with graphene. We can't do anything well enough that people are interested in paying for it. Part of my problem is I still can't tell after all this if you're interested in graphene as a hobby, or for some other reason. It's all very nebulous.

    Well, a fool and his money are soon parted. To be more direct: there's absolutely nothing foolish about demanding results from basic research (In fact, almost all funding bodies require that you list out your research plans in detail--along with justifications for why you think your plans will work--before they will give you a single penny). I can't imagine you'd actually just hand over a million bucks to a bunch of researchers, no strings attached, no questions asked. Maybe you're just more charitable than most program managers.

    Ignoring the fact that Columbus was exploring a possible trade route to Asia and he found America by accident...ok, but you seem to have no information other than the fact that the word "graphene" has been buzzing around the science blogs for a while now.

    This is a much better comment. You haven't mentioned how you envision graphene would play a part, but at least there's a modicum of specificity. Are you looking to build an antenna (for communication), or maybe a FET (for logic gates)? Something else? There are issues with both of these examples, but we can address those in further posts after you've provided more information.
  13. Feb 2, 2017 #12
    Fine. I want to master graphene because it's going to give me superpowers in combination with other knowledge.

    The first result is "potential applications" not what we're currently able to do.

    Sorry, I misunderstood this then "The failure rate on most of the devices I work with in the lab is more like one in three."

    Unfortunately time isn't on my side. I will have to cut more corners than typical funders do.

    Remote communication is valuable. So are logic gates. I don't know which one is easier first, I've got to cover as many bases as I can though.
    In a few years time I'd like to have a nice basic touchscreen display, adhoc network capabilities, and whatever else I can get really.

    I understand I'm not the most educated in this field, or any of the other ones I barge into, but I feel like my conversations typically look like this:
    Kid: "I want to learn math because I know it's good for me"
    Professor: "Well, what do you want to calculate? Who is your audience? What's your step by step plan for everything that you learn?"
    Kid: "Well, f***, I guess I won't learn math then"

    I'm willing to bet that graphene(and my other various curiosities) will permeate all forms of technology we're accustomed to today.

    To be fair, what I really want out of all this scientific knowledge is very difficult to achieve. I want to have a fluid intuition about the physical nature of reality. That requires a lot of experience and study. I think the most effective way of studying is with friends. I want to make a lot more STEM friends. That's why I want to jump start casual lab communities. I understand lab research is hard work. I am trying to find a way to counter-weight that.
  14. Feb 2, 2017 #13


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    Did you read past the title? It's all stuff we're currently able to do. It's just not commercialized. That comes by taking applications and finding a market niche for them.

    What I mean is that there's plenty you can do with graphene, but you're going to have to do those things quite a bit better than they're done now to find a commercial market.

    This is all very cloak and dagger. But the real question is: why does all of this have to be done with graphene? Do you simply want to make a touchscreen out of graphene for your own edification? Then you might be able to pursue that as a research direction. Do you need a touchscreen because someone is breathing down your neck on some company project? 1) We already have touchscreens, and 2) The ones on the market are going to be cheaper than graphene touchscreens for the forseeable future.

    If I may attempt an analogy, you said your background was in computer programming. Your first post would look like: "I want to program with Python. What can we do with Python? What kind of programs can we write?" It's extremely unclear what the asker would want. Do they simply want to learn programming, or is there a specific reason they need to learn Python, or do they just want to learn Python because they've heard about it and think it might be important for some unspecified reason (but they may or may not know absolutely nothing about programming in general, in which case "Python" is just a buzzword)?
  15. Feb 2, 2017 #14
    Sorry, no, I'm not seeing what you are. Could you link me? Are we talking about the wiki page? I skimmed it. My fault.

    This is good to know.

    "Why does this all have to be done with Math?"

    Hopefully we're on the same page.
    I'm willing to bet that Graphene will be useful, so I want to learn about it.
  16. Feb 3, 2017 #15


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    Yes the wiki page. I just did the google search again and a different link was number one. That's my fault. The wiki page lists out dozens of instances applications-driven research that's been done. Again, you can do a lot with graphene, just not much very well yet.

    No, more like "I want to prove the Jacobi identity, specifically using geometry." That's fine, and there may be some heuristic benefit to it, but there are much much easier ways of proving it (just not using geometry specifically). But I'll take this as a sign that you're looking to do experiments with graphene for your own edification. That's fantastic. I do the same thing for a living.

    That's a perfectly valid response. The point of all these posts is that broad brush questions like your initial ones are much more efficiently answered (and probably ultimately much more to your satisfaction) by doing broad searches (either with google or in a library or what have you). Forums that rely on interactions with real people like this one, or stack exchange, researchgate, etc., work much better if your questions are much more specifically focused. Something like: "I've decided to make a touchscreen where graphene plays the role of xyz. Does anyone have info about property n?" This shows the rest of the forum members that you know how a touchscreen works, you know which components of a touchscreen could reasonably be substituted with graphene, and that you've done enough research to run into a real problem that can't be efficiently solved with a broader search. It signals a certain level of sophistication and engagement with the material, and it means that the forum members aren't wasting their time with responses that are likely to sail right over your head. (Another example that might be more relevant: say you go to the "potential applications of graphene" wiki page and you see that, e.g., someone used graphene in a frequency multiplier. You want to try to build it, but you don't have the apparatus to thermally evaporate gold contacts. A suitable question might be "I'm trying to build a frequency multiplier out of a graphene FET. Is there a poor man's way to lay down electrical contacts to graphene?")

    I understand that many laypeople get frustrated with scientists/professors for their insistence that people who want to learn some material be focused on a goal. But that generally stems from the common experience that learning (I mean real understanding, or developing a fluid intuition, if you want to use your words) simply doesn't happen without a focused effort.
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