We need more than graphene

Kelman, Ilan | December 27, 2012 | Leave a Comment

Review article on graphene in "Science".

By Ilan Kelman, Senior Research Fellow, CICERO, Norway

At last, high-level political support for scientific research, backed up with reasonable funds. The U.K.’s Chancellor announces a £21.5 million investment fund for universities.

Will this solve world hunger? Will it cut our fossil fuel consumption by 90%? Will it recommend an effective humanitarian aid system? Will it improve subsistence livelihoods?

None of the above. It will research one specific type of material, called graphene, because it has “great commercialisation potential”.

Kudos to the Nobel Prize winning physicists for ingenious research. No one should begrudge brilliant science or a government willing to support those scientific achievements with serious money.

But money only because the work can be commercialised and produce sellable technology? What happened to science for a better humanity?

Graphene has impressive potential to support sustainability endeavours and for helping humanity out of the sustainability mess that we have created. Perhaps the U.K.’s Chancellor could highlight the need to achieve sustainability goals through graphene.

So certainly do not take money away from technology-inspired research that will reap corporate profits. Instead, match those funds for projects with goals for all of humanity now. The paybacks and profits for society will be immense.

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