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Taking Graphene to the Next Level

How to Hit the Ground Floor Running on This Resource Boom

Written by Keith Kohl
Posted November 20, 2015

Does the image below ring a bell?

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Some of you may remember it from a few years ago...

It's a chunk of graphene aerogel sitting comfortably on the spines of a wheat stalk.

In 2013, graphene was dubbed the “wonder material” and the lightest solid material on earth. While it has weight, it's less atomically dense than even helium.

Graphene is actually a single atomic layer thick, and it was the world's first 2D material.

In fact, it's made entirely of interconnected carbon atoms, giving its structure some intriguing abilities.

For instance, it's highly conductive of both electricity and heat, which has many scientists interested in its uses in electronics. Ever had to buy those flat fans to keep your laptop cool while you're working? Well, it turns out that graphene has the potential to fix that problem once and for all.

Let's also not forget graphene's net-like capabilities, which seem obvious after looking at its structure up close:

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It's been proven in lab tests to stop the flow of hydrogen, a feat that doesn't come easy.

And it also turns out that graphene is more versatile when combined with other materials.

But that may be changing...

Bring on the Boron

There was a breakthrough recently in the miracle mineral that we've been talking about lately — it's now being made into a 2D structure.

This process used to make 2D sheets of boron is roughly the same as the one used with graphene: copper plates are heated in a furnace, a vapor of boron and oxygen is added, and the reaction of the gas with the heated copper separates the boron, which settles or “grows” onto the copper in single-layer sheets.

Now, you know how incredibly useful boron is already. Its extremely stable atomic structure makes boron both heat resistant and impact resistant. Its uses in cookware and laboratory glassware prove its importance here.

Boron is also a major component in fiberglass and is essential to the structural integrity of broadband Internet fibers.

And with this recent breakthrough, we now have two highly useful 2D materials in the world.

The next step seems obvious...

Miracle Mineral, Meet Wonder Material

One of the first uses of 2D boron will be in electronics — and it won't be alone.

It turns out that this boron application is being integrated with 2D graphene.

You see, graphene is a tremendous conductor, making it ideal for transmitting energy and data throughout a device... without overheating.

However, its tight atomic structure also means there won't be any gaps or any real way to stop the signals from moving on.

In other words, there's no off-switch with graphene.

However, 2D boron has a much different atomic structure that looks a bit like this:

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Did you notice the open spaces?

These band gaps are absolutely crucial for electronics, making it possible to shut off nano-electronic devices, such as the transistors that keep your computer running.

And because boron isn't as conductive of heat and electricity as graphene, only something like silver would compete against the wonder mineral.

While this characteristic is extremely impressive, there's still another use for this 2D boron-graphene mixture: ultra-sensitive gas sensors.

As I just mentioned, graphene by itself is a pretty accurate detector of gases. The addition of boron into the net-like structure, however, increases that accuracy 27 times over!

This means the combination can detect such gases as nitrogen oxide in the air at parts per billion or ammonia in the air at parts per million, making affordable, long-term emissions reduction a possibility.

And the buying opportunity is all too real for investors.

Look, there's obviously more to boron than this new potential game-changing technology team-up with graphene.

After all, we already depend on boron for most of our everyday products, from our food to our electronic devices.

And while this market is in full swing, there are still a few opportunities to catch premium ground-floor investments out there.

Until next time,

Keith Kohl Signature

Keith Kohl

follow basic@KeithKohl1 on Twitter

A true insider in the energy markets, Keith is one of few financial reporters to have visited the Alberta oil sands. His research has helped thousands of investors capitalize from the rapidly changing face of energy. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital as well as Investment Director of Angel Publishing's Energy Investor. For years, Keith has been providing in-depth coverage of the Bakken, the Haynesville Shale, and the Marcellus natural gas formations — all ahead of the mainstream media. For more on Keith, go to his editor's page.

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