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Graphene has moved from the research laboratory to the marketplace, driven by demand from markets where advanced materials are required, such as the aerospace, automotive, coatings, electronics, energy storage, communications, sensor, solar, oil, and lubricant sectors. The exceptional electron and thermal transport, mechanical properties, barrier properties and high specific surface area of graphene and combinations reportedly make it a potentially disruptive technology across a raft of industries. The European Union is reportedly funding a 10-year €1.35 billion (~$1.7 billion) coordination action on graphene, while South Korea is spending $350 million on commercialization initiatives. In the UK, £50 million (~ $77 million) is being invested in a commercialization hub. Applications are coming onto the market for polymer composites and EMI shielding coatings. Graphene-based conducting inks are also finding their way into smart cards and radio frequency identification tags.
Many of the current and potential applications of carbon nanotubes could be taken by graphene, as it reportedly displays enhanced properties but with greater ease of production and handling. In this regard, carbon nanotubes may be viewed as a stalking horse for commercial applications of graphene. However, in an interesting development, using carbon nanotubes and graphene in combination shows great promise, allowing for greater consistency and higher concentrations of these materials in the end product.
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