Being successful as an investor often means finding the next big thing, but sometimes the trend with the greatest potential for upside isn’t something new, it is something very old. In this case, it is graphene and the technological advances that the material is behind.
Let’s start at the beginning.
What is Graphene?
If you look in your desk, you will probably find a piece of (the super-material) graphene, aka pencil lead.
This thin layer of graphite is a carbon allotrope (meaning it has the same atoms as carbon, but they are in a different arrangement).
While your pencil lead might seem thin and brittle, “when graphene is isolated from graphite it takes on some miraculous properties,” explains Digital Trends.
“It is a mere one-atom thick, the first two-dimensional material ever discovered. Despite this, graphene is also one of the strongest materials in the known universe. With a tensile strength of 130 GPa (gigapascals), it is more than 100 times stronger than steel.” It is also flexible, transparent, and conductive.
Why Graphene Stocks are Worth Buying
Graphene may be one of the most important materials available going forward. Goldman Sachs called it “The Miracle Metal” in 2017, and we have to agree. It has important applications in renewable energy as well as electronics and water filtration.
(We said it was a “super-material”)
One of the things that makes graphene so unique is its atomic bonds. They are so tight that the only thing that can pass through them is water.
The Royal Society of Chemistry found graphene is so effective at only letting water pass through that it could be used to clean contaminated water, even radioactive water.
Lockheed Martin even has a patent for a graphene water filter.
“It’s 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger,” says John Stetson, one of the engineers on the project. “The energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less.”
Graphene is also highly conductive. If used in solar panels, for instance, graphene could reach 60% efficiency–a sharp increase from the 25% commonly seen in today’s panels which employ silicon.
Being highly conductive also has implications in the world of semiconductors. With some tweaking, graphene could help information literally travel faster.
Graphene is also very strong, even in tiny pieces. Biomedical research could see some advantages with diagnostic equipment and localized delivery systems made from graphene.
Finally, there is its flexibility and transparency. By incorporating graphene, smartphones and tablets could become flexible, wrapping around wrists or folding up like paper, while also becoming exceptionally strong and durable.
Best Graphene Stocks: Applied Graphene Materials
Applied Graphene Materials is based in the UK. It produces graphene through a “bottom-up” process it defines as proprietary.
The company’s methods rely on readily available raw materials instead of graphite, as many other graphene producers do. Because of this, Applied Graphene Materials is completely scalable and not as vulnerable as that of a company which relies on graphite for its operations.
The end result is also purer than most graphene produced using graphite – it doesn’t contain graphitic impurities or any traces of metals used to transition the material – so it is better suited to a variety of applications.
The combination sets Applied Graphene Materials up to be a major player in this industry.
Top Graphene Stocks to Buy: First Graphene
First Graphene is also a strong contender. The company is based in Australia, but it develops and produces its graphene materials in Sri Lanka.
It takes graphite and converts it into graphene. While its products are not the purest, they aren’t intended to be.
First Graphene is setting itself up to be a value producer of graphene. The company’s aim is to produce consistent quality graphene at a price that makes its incorporation in modern production feasible.
This goal is an important differentiator because graphene can be almost prohibitively expensive to produce in high quantities.
If a manufacturer can obtain graphene at the right price, it is more likely to use the material. First Graphene is trying to do that.
Top Graphene Stocks to Buy: Aixtron
AIXTRON is based in Germany. Historically, the company has focused more on the use of graphene in semiconductor technology, but some of that focus is evolving.
“In order to be able to expand AIXTRON’s product portfolio further in the future, too, we will develop our innovative technology for the production of graphene, carbon nanotubes and carbon nanowires,” wrote AIXTRON co-Presidents Dr. Felix Grawert and Dr. Bernd Schulte in a letter to shareholders regarding the company’s 2017 Annual Report.
“The future potential of these materials which will be used in a large number of possible applications, such as displays, batteries or semiconductor components in the future, is promising.”
Alternative Graphene Stocks: Cabot Corporation & ASML
The first is based in the Netherlands. It is the largest semiconductor maker in Europe, and it uses lithographic techniques in its production. While graphene is not a major part of its current operations, ASML (NASDAQ: ASML) did file a patent for a pellicle that uses graphene.
While graphene as a product may not add anything to its bottom line in the near future, if ever, the company is using graphene to help better its current offerings. Investors looking for a conservative entrance into graphene may want to consider Cabot as a starting point.