The New Yorker: “Graphene may be the most remarkable substance ever discovered. But what’s it for?”
Material Question: Graphene may be the most remarkable substance ever discovered. But what’s it for?”
…Perhaps the most expansive thinker about the material’s potential is Tomas Palacios, a Spanish scientist who runs the Center for Graphene Devices and 2D Systems, at M.I.T. Rather than using graphene to improve existing applications, as Tour’s lab mostly does, Palacios is trying to build devices for a future world.
At thirty-six, Palacios has an undergraduate’s reedy build and a gentle way of speaking that makes wildly ambitious notions seem plausible. As an electrical engineer, he aspires to “ubiquitous electronics,” increasing “by a factor of one hundred” the number of electronic devices in our lives. From the perspective of his lab, the world would be greatly enhanced if every object, from windows to coffee cups, paper currency, and shoes, were embedded with energy harvesters, sensors, and light-emitting diodes, which allowed them to cheaply collect and transmit information. “Basically, everything around us will be able to convert itself into a display on demand,” he told me, when I visited him recently. Palacios says that graphene could make all this possible; first, though, it must be integrated into those coffee cups and shoes.
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