Building Your Own Convergence Fortune

They call it the “Convergence.” Sometimes, when researchers get particularly excited, they refer to it as “The Great Convergence.” Some think it’s still a few years away. Others are convinced it’s already happened. So what is it – besides an incredible wealth opportunity for forward-thinkers like you?

The Convergence is the moment when hard scientific research, manufacturing, communications, medicine – just pick a list of industries – all merge together. I’m talking about nano-engineered assembly lines. Cell phones, for example, that take your blood pressure and can email reports to your physician.

Profiting from companies involved in the Convergence is the wealth trend of the next decade. You see, breakthroughs are compounding now. Wealth is piling up faster and faster. Here’s just one example…

This past week, the Nobel Prize in physics for 2010 was awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for the discovery of graphene. Geim and Novoselov were the first to successfully extract graphene from bulk graphite in 2004 using a sophisticated method referred to as the “Scotch tape technique.” Where others had failed to get single graphene sheets with more advanced methods, these scientists found success with Scotch tape.

Andre Geim was previously famous for levitating a frog using a strong magnetic field, which won him the Ig Nobel Prize in 2000. The results were published in the European Journal of Physics in a paper titled “Of Flying Frogs and Levitrons.”

The discovery of graphene opens doors to revolutionary new materials. Graphene is a sheet of chemically attached carbon atoms a single atom thick. Since carbon can form multiple simultaneous chemical bonds, each carbon atom bonds to three others. The result is a sheet 1 millionth of a millimeter thick in which the hexagonal structure of the carbon bonds takes on a honeycomb appearance with an atom at each vertex.

Along with carbon nanotubes, graphene is the strongest substance ever tested. It could be used to manufacture strong, lightweight products. Think of car bodies or aircraft fuselages. Since carbon is so abundant, the raw materials would be very inexpensive.

Graphene also has unique, useful electrical properties. If commercial graphene manufacturing could be perfected, it has been theorized that graphene could be used to construct many of the components in integrated circuits. In the future, you could be tapping on a smart phone with a graphene touch-screen or reading a book on a graphene monitor.

To give an example, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have invented a graphene manufacturing technique for nanometer-scale electronics. They found that by etching patterns into silicon carbide, carbon atoms are coaxed into growing ribbons of graphene. With this technique, the researchers can grow an array of 10,000 transistors on a square chip only a quarter centimeter on a side.

Not only could graphene enable extremely small, dense electronic devices, it could also boost clock speeds in computers. UCLA researchers have recently been able to manufacture a 300-gigahertz graphene transistor. This is twice as fast as the best silicon oxide semiconductor transistors and similar in speed to transistors using expensive elements like indium or gallium. Currently, the researchers are trying to push the graphene transistor envelope and hit a speed of 1 terahertz.

Since graphene is an extremely thin honeycomb sheet, it can act as a membrane. The cover story of the Sept. 9 edition of the journal Nature features researchers using graphene sheets with tiny holes drilled in them. Using electrical charges, DNA strands can then be drawn through the holes, called nanopores, and read one base at a time – much how you would read data off of a ticker tape.

If the technology proves viable, it could greatly speed up the time it takes to read the data off of a full DNA molecule. This would make gene sequencing much cheaper. Since reading individual DNA data is important for the advance of personalized medicine, the impact of the technology could end up being huge.

Graphene is just one example of the tech Convergence. From communications to medicine and from computer hardware to bulletproof vests stronger than Kevlar, graphene is a Convergence trend that’s making waves TODAY.

Ad lucrum per scientia,

Ray Blanco
For The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning