Have you heard about graphene? It’s been called a “miracle material” by various tech and research labs. It has applications in electronics, energy, defense, and even medicine.
It’s possible that graphene-based solar cells could be far more efficient than today’s designs, and a prototype graphene electrode devised at Northwestern University lets lithium-ion batteries store and recharge power at ten times their present speeds.
Now, Lux Research has issued a report that comments on recent developments and offers guidance for the future.
By 2020, the report estimates, the graphene market should be worth around $126 million—at the end of 2012 it was just $9 million. The growth rate, however, won’t be that dramatic as much as a steady spread.
Graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) are expected to form the major part of this developing market. Graphene films, which have been touted highly, face significant barriers to entry and technical development, meaning some basic infrastructure has to advance further before that becomes a hot area.
Ross Kozarsky, Lux Research Senior Analyst and the lead author of the report entitled Is Graphene the Next Silicon... Or Just the Next Carbon Nanotube?, comments, "The rocky history of carbon nanotubes shows that a research and patent boom along with impressive technical performance is far from a guarantee of commercial success. Major challenges like high costs, processing issues, and competing materials loom large.”
The report also lists and analyzes some of the companies in this sector to watch out for. XG Sciences and Vorbeck, for example, lead the GNP startups, with Vorbeck focusing on high-margin conductive links and XG specializing in GNP supplies.
Several second-generation startups like Graphene Technologies, Grafold, Xolve, etc. make bold claims about improvements or advances in graphene, but not much of real substance yet.
Graphene film specialists continue to grapple with the aforementioned technical barriers, meaning there isn’t much clarity in this market sector yet.