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Patent Analysis Illustrates Growth of Graphene Technology

July 25th, 2011

Take a piece of pencil lead, put it between two pieces of Scotch tape (sticky sides together), repeatedly pull the tapes apart and what do you get?  The answer is small flakes of graphene, the first of a new class of two-dimensional crystalline materials with remarkable properties, so much so that Andre Geim and Kostanitin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2010 for their ground-breaking experiments on this material.

Despite being made of carbon, graphene is a good conductor of electricity, conducts heat 10 times better than silver and is 100 times stronger than steel.  Graphene is beginning to attract attention from many research groups and for a variety of applications with significant R&D investments being made in Europe, USA and especially Asia.

A workshop organized by the European Commission was convened earlier this year to explore the potential for this material and bring together some key players to discuss coordination of research efforts to give European leadership in this field.  Thomson Reuters were invited to contribute to discussions by presenting their findings from analysis of patenting in this area.

The numbers speak for themselves: graphene_patent_trend

A small amount of activity is seen pre-2004.  In 2004, the first practical method of making graphene was developed (the Scotch tape method described above) and that has acted as the trigger for the explosive growth in activity seen here.

A Themescape analysis provides a technology landscape which shows the wide variety of applications for graphene being developed within patented innovation:

 graphene_themescape_map

It will be fascinating to see how this technology develops over the next few years towards the target date of the Graphene 2020 workshop.

Be sure that we at Thomson Reuters will continue to process patent applications from around the world in this and all other technologies to provide our customers the value-added patent information needed to track developments in this technology. 

 Watch this space!

Bob Stembridge, Customer Relations Manager, Thomson Reuters Patents

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