Edison–Everything Old is New Again

Think of graphite, perhaps in a pencil point, that allows you to write on paper. Now further engage your imagination to create a mental image of one-single layer of graphite-called graphene-the atoms of which are arranged in a honeycomb (hexagonal) lattice. First successfully isolated in 2003, graphene has many potential uses, and no doubt many more as it’s cost to manufacture drops.

A team of researchers from South Korea, Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Stanford University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have combined their talents to create the world’s thinnest light bulb (see photo below)-based on a graphene filament.

Everything Old Is New Again

According to Yun Daniel Park, professor of physics and astronomy at Seoul National University, this light bulb work takes a page from Edison’s playbook. “Edison originally used carbon as a filament for his light bulb, and here we are going back to the same element, but using it in its pure form—graphene—and at its ultimate size limit—one atom thick.”

Another important aspect of this team’s work could be the ability to generate light on the surface of a chip, possibly leading to fully integrated photonic circuits that would, in theory, use light to carry information. Optical computing is considered the next bold step in increasing computation power and versatility.

Researchers at Manchester University in England are using graphene to radically extend LED-based bulbs. Coating the LEDs with graphene could make them up to 10 percent more efficient than traditional LED lights (better heat dissipation). It’s expected to be priced competitively to current LED models when it goes on sale later this year.

Tom … have you been listening to all this? Everything old (1879 or so) is new again … and better! See some of Edison’s original carbonized thread filament light bulbs in photo below.

Everything Old Is New Again

Editor’s Note
Something to ponder about carbon-which can come in different forms (allotropes). Allotropes are different structural modifications of an element. Graphite/graphene and diamonds are common but different forms of carbon; and more new forms are still being discovered and researched. Graphene is the strongest material ever recorded, 300+ times stronger than the best structural steels; and 40+times stronger than diamonds.

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

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