Graphene is here to stay
Scientists and entrepreneurs attended the Graphene Canada meeting in Montreal from October 14-16, 2015 in a valiant effort to promote the commercialization of graphene. Thirteen months earlier I had attended first Graphene World Summit, which took place September 15-16, 2014 in Berkeley, California.
Attendance in Berkeley was a mixture of onlookers, scientists and start-ups. Attendance in Montreal was heady mix of scientists and big business.
The contrast between these meetings taught me that graphene is here to stay. Here is why.
After three days of lectures in Montreal, at 18:15 on a Friday night, the room was still full of attendees, sitting quietly after the closing address. “These people could stay here the entire evening”, explained Dr Antonio Correia of Phantoms Foundation of Spain. Ever since I began grad school in 1983 I have never seen a group of more dedicated scientists.
I should point out that they weren’t talking about theoretical stuff; they were working on the commercial application of graphene.
Graphene is no longer a theoretical wonder material. The presentations in Montreal also showed that many, including some of the largest companies in the world such as Samsung and Lockheed Martin are working toward developing commercial applications.
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This gives us a clue that graphene innovation will emerge out of the Gartner’s trough of disillusionment.
Let me explain Gartner’s Hype Cycle (http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/hype-cycle.jsp).
The Hype Cycle is a branded graphical presentation developed and used by the American IT research and advisory firm Gartner for representing the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies.
We certainly witnessed the Peak of Inflated Expectations in the graphene sector as early publicity produced a number of success stories in the laboratory and scores of failures. Graphene was labelled the new wonder material. But its commercial emergence is lagging. For this reason we entered the Through of Disillusionment.
The interest of the general public is waning as some of targeted innovation is coming online slower than expected. As an explanation, consumers don’t care much about graphene. But they care very much about the price points of the goods they purchase. In fact, the bane (as well as the salvation) of innovation is that the most significant decisions in innovation are made at Wal-Mart on Saturday morning and are based on price point. In short, the gravitation of price point decisions is negated by consumer decisions.
Breaking from this gravitational pull will put graphene up the slope of enlightenment where more instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. We should expect second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises will fund pilot projects while conservative companies will remain cautious.
Mainstream adoption of graphene will start to take off when we hit Plateau of Productivity. At that point the criteria for assessing provider viability will be more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance will clearly pay off.
The Graphene Canada conference showed that the graphene sector is about to hit the slope of enlightenment.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>