UK falls behind in global graphene patent race
Chinese physicists have already outlapped the lot
Physicists all over the world are scrambling to patent their research on the various different aspects of miracle substance graphene, with Chinese researchers leading the field.
China is the country with the most patents for the carbon that's a hundred times stronger than steel, while Korean giant Samsung is the top company investing in graphene.
Despite the fact that the ground-breaking discovery was made in Britain, the UK is trailing the pack when it comes to patents, with just 54 patent publications in comparison to China's 2,204, according to UK-based consultancy CambridgeIP.
The UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced more money for graphene research last month, adding an extra £21.5m to existing cash for universities.
But the British investment is clearly dwarfed by spending in China as well as the US, where there are 1,754 patents published and South Korea, with 1,160.
In the corporate world, Samsung is plugging plenty of its billions into graphene and holds a massive 407 patents. The second biggest corporate investor is IBM, which has 134 patents for the carbon material.
Graphene has been around for less than a decade, but folks have dubbed it the "miracle substance" for its huge potential for tech innovations. The material is the thinnest ever created but is nevertheless stronger than diamond while staying flexible and it's more conductive than copper. Bendy touchscreen phones, hyper-fast internet and significantly better batteries are just some of the applications boffins have suggested for the stuff.
Russian-born scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their early work in identifying the properties of graphene at Manchester University.
Earlier this month, science minister David Willetts said that it was "vital… to exploit the commercial potential of this astonishing material".
"[The government's] significant investment will support cutting edge research projects to find everyday uses for graphene. They will foster innovation, drive growth and help the UK get ahead in the global race," he said. ®
Re: Graphene = crap
I think your views on this are very narrow minded and short term. This sort of research takes a lot of time and money. Carbon nanotube research has now at last yielded a workable method of mass production, and has always promised a raft of awesome applications. Graphene is not far behind.
Waste of time and money you say? Curiosities for academics?
If we didnt spend time and money researching these sort of ideas and innovations, then the whole of human scientific progress would stagnate. I'm pleased you are only a minor comment tard (with your own Reg bronze badge too!) and not an actual scientist or politician.
And so the story repeats itself
What is it with this country. We have a long and fairly illustriuous history of invention and inovation, so why whenever we discover/create the next greatest thing we totally fail to make anything much of it and we end up trailing everything else.
There's a vast gulf between patents that cover menu jiggling and corner rounding, and patents which deal with overcoming major engineering issues with the potential to drive a new techology that would be of enormous benefit the world over. Don't conflate the two.
Also, capitalism is evil now? Surely the folk who pay for the necessary research into actual real useful practical and above all novel things have some rights to profit from that investment?