While wrestling with the various market numbers for graphene over at AZoNano.com I found myself doubting my own sanity at times.
Trying to perform a sanity check on market numbers makes you doubt the veracity of any prediction about the future. The problem is that there are too many unknowns. Conversations with CEO’s of various graphene producers in the production of this article indicated a wide range of uncertainties over the market potential, although all obviously agreed that it was large enough to build a decent business on. The uncertainty led to an unwillingness to confirm or deny any market size estimates, as no one really has enough information to base a rational decision on. As with all early stage technologies there is a high degree of risk, but someone has to take a leap of faith.
The world of two dimensional materials is changing rapidly with graphene heterostructures for optoelectronics and silicene transistors being announced just this week. This challenges all the assumptions about graphene’s penetration of the microelectronics sector, and I suspect that the current pace of research means that all predictions will be widely inaccurate.
A better way to approach this may be to look at the whole suite of 2D materials, of which graphene is just the most advanced and best known. While this has long been recognised by the scientific community the reporting of graphene has focussed solely on the headline grabbing thin sheets of carbon, with other 2D material seen as challengers. But it shouldn’t be an either/or choice. Building a company exploiting early stage technologies always requires an anti fragile approach as shocks from new technologies are inevitable.
Graphene may be todays king of new materials, but for how much longer?