Mass production and 3-D printing of graphene may enable the scaling up of production that would be needed for open source to help develop these materials.
“The open-source model paved the way for significant advancements in the fields of software and programming, and has positively affected industries such as medicine, engineering and even fashion, among others. The success of open-source methods brings to light the potential for its implementation in other areas.
For instance, advanced raw materials under development—such as the 2-D wonder material graphene—could greatly benefit from the widespread experimentation of open-source use.
In its current state, graphene is primarily researched by scientists in universities and labs, but by making graphene a material that is open to be improved upon by anyone, we might see the fulfilment of the potential that the nanomaterial has been hailed for since its discovery.
The benefits of open-source and what it can do for materials like graphene
The collaborative nature of open-source coding has significantly boosted our software capabilities in a short span of time. Open-sourcing allows companies to avoid starting from scratch by using already existing softwares and modifying them for their own purposes. This saves time and resources and gives companies more room to experiment and accelerate their advancements.
Open-source methods help achieve a broader scope of innovation, since the people researching and tinkering are not limited to the professionals in the lab, but can now include hobbyists or aspiring scientists looking to get more involved.
This level of experimentation could take emerging materials like graphene beyond their current limits. Graphene’s capabilities are staggering—it is essentially two-dimensional, flexible, 200 times stronger than steel, conducts heat 10 times better than copper, and conducts electricity 250 times better than silicon. Its abilities are far-reaching and extremely potent, making graphene applications nearly endless.
As it stands, graphene research is limited to a select few technology companies. Samsung, for instance, has the most graphene patents to date. Otherwise, most of graphene research is done in university labs.
In the same way that open-sourcing has built up software and related technologies, open-sourcing could also viably allow a wider range of individuals and communities to help unlock graphene’s unrealised potential.
Limitations of open-source for materials
Materials like graphene are fundamentally different from software in that they are physical resources. Since graphene’s discovery, quantity has been a serious issue preventing the material from seeing widespread use. Natural reserves of graphene are few and far between, and while scientists have discovered ways to produce graphene, the methods have proved unscalable.
And how would the average user even experiment with such a material? For those who don’t have the same equipment researchers do, how can they go about tinkering with graphene? In order for raw materials like graphene to become open-source, a solution for these two problems must be found.”
However, the solutions may be closer at hand than you might think. Recently, MIT researchers discovered a potentially scalable way to mass-produce graphene. They utilize an industrial manufacturing process known as a roll-to-roll method, combined with a chemical vapor deposition (a common way for researchers to create graphene).”
Read full article over here Could the Open-Source Model Help Us Develop Advanced Sustainable Materials?
Source: Triple Pundit by Don Basile
Image: A researcher experiments with the advanced nanomaterial graphene.
Update: Techcrunch published Graphene as an open-source material the same story by Don Basile on June 13.