Graphene is an incredible material. The substance can conduct electricity and heat with extreme efficiency, and is about 100 times stronger than steel, making it one of the most hyped materials of the 21st century. There’s also hope that graphene could be effective at fighting cancer stem cells, which it seems to inhibit in laboratory tests. Until now, it has remained a mystery how this miracle substance can be put to practical use.
Finally, a company is releasing a consumer product using the substance. Graphene Lighting, a Canadian-funded company, has announced it will release an LED lightbulb coated in graphene that will be available in stores later this year. Due to the efficiency of graphene’s heat and power conductivity, the bulb will be 10% more efficient than standard LEDs.
Colin Bailey, a University of Manchester professor who worked on the product, told the BBC, “The manufacturing costs are lower and it uses more and more sustainable components.” This means the bulb is expected to actually cost less than the LED models currently on the market. It will also be dimmable, a feature that LED models have struggled with.
The bulb will be an initial test of graphene’s potential in the eyes of the public. The substance, discovered by Russian scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov in 2004 (who subsequently won the Nobel Prize in physics), is a two-dimensional form of carbon, a lattice only one atom wide. Billions of layers of graphene make up regular graphite used in the lowly wooden pencil, but on its own, graphene has amazing qualities that are still being parsed by scientists. But however incredible Graphene may be on paper, if scientists can’t find ways to make graphene into products, it may prove to have less of an impact than regular old graphite.