The potential applications and growth potential for graphene are often described as limitless. However, this is practically untrue. This study takes a realistic approach to understanding the applications of graphene and how graphene can be compared to the more mature as well as more nascent technologies. A more accurate forecast is possible by including a competitive technology analysis in the model. The primary focus of this study is to provide CEOs, managers, innovators, and investors with more information on which market segments are the most promising and profitable for graphene. Time, money, and research efforts should be directed towards these particular applications to expedite the growth of the graphene market, potentially making it a billion-dollar market by 2025.
The study includes an in-depth discussion on the best applications of graphene. There are many possible applications that use a subset of these properties. Potential electronic applications include energy storage, biomedical sensors, transparent and flexible electrodes, and transistors. Potential mechanical applications include composite strengthening, sound transducers, biomolecular filters, water purification, and water desalination. With each of these applications, there are competing technologies that dampen the potential use for graphene. Main competitors include graphite, activated carbon, metal nanowires, two-dimensional inorganic analogues such as transition metal dichalcogenides, carbon nanotubes, and carbon fibre. In certain applications such as strong, lightweight composites, graphene can outperform these alternative technologies. However, it is important to note that this is only true for certain types of graphene.
The limitations of graphene as well as its alternatives are highlighted in the study to determine the ideal graphene-only applications. Knowledge on the drivers and restraints for the graphene industry is needed to accurately forecast its growth. Drivers of the graphene industry as a whole include government research and development funding, push for material lightweighting for improved fuel efficiency in automotives, improvements in high-quality graphene production, increase in the production of application-specific graphene, and the increasing need for high-quality batteries. Restraints for the graphene industry include competitive technologies, current limitations in the supply of application-specific graphene, processing limitations, and a largely fragmented market.
Opportunities for graphene lie in capitalising on the drivers by focussing on the growing applications and addressing the restraints such as current production limitations. Several companies are commercialising graphene in these industries. Key players are establishing the graphene market and incrementally improving performance by either adding graphene to the currently used material or replacing the current material with a graphene composite. The first large commercial successes of graphene are likely to be in applications that make use of the mechanical properties. This parallels the use of other wonder materials such as carbon nanotubes. Production of graphene tailored to the most promising applications will lead to the development of products that outperform alternative technologies to the extent of supplanting them.
Another thing to note when discussing the graphene industry is that it is not the only two-dimensional material of interest. The development of inorganic analogues of graphene may disrupt many of the electronic applications, as graphene is not intrinsically a semiconductor. However, graphene hybrids, either with other nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes or with inorganic two-dimensional materials, look promising for many of these applications including sensors, transistors and spintronics. In view of of how previously discovered advanced materials have been developed and how current alternatives compare with graphene, the study determines how quickly the graphene market can grow and where this growth will occur.