September 25, 2021

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What is graphene?

What is graphene?
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Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has ordered the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct a review of the potential takeover of a south Wales graphene company.

A statement released by Kwarteng’s national security directorate yesterday cites concerns over “the proposed acquisition of all or part of the Perpetuus Group… by the company Taurus International, Dr Zhongfu Zhou or any enterprise associated with him or the company, or any subsidiary or any affiliates of either”.

The Government has reportedly intervened in the material manufacturer’s possible takeover due to national security concerns, citing the Enterprise Act of 2002.

The CMA now has until February 7, 2022, to complete and submit a report to the Business Secretary.

But what is graphene and what can it be used for? Here’s what you need to know.

What is graphene?

Graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms bonded together in a repeating hexagonal lattice. It is often referred to as the thinnest and lightest “supermaterial” known to man.

It was first produced by University of Manchester researchers in 2004, who went on to win a Nobel prize for their discovery.

The material, which is one million times thinner than paper, is extremely diverse, with researchers from across the world constantly making new discoveries about its properties and various applications, including:

  • Touchscreens (LCD or OLED displays)

  • Computer chips

  • Batteries

  • DNA sequencing

  • Solar cells

  • Sports equipment, including tennis rackets and bikes

Although graphene production is not currently a major industry, it is becoming increasingly more important due to its potential medical and military applications.

What does Perpetuus Group do?

Perpetuus, which was founded in 2013, is a small graphene manufacturer with three sites in south Wales and just 13 employees at its main graphene subsidiary.

The small Wales-based company makes graphene and carbon nanotubes, which resemble a sheet of rolled-up graphene.

The UK Government highlighted in its notice: “at least one-quarter of all graphene plasma goods and/or services which are supplied in the United Kingdom are supplied by South Wales-based Perpetuus Group”.

This includes Perpetuus Energy, Perpetuus Advanced Materials and Perpetuus Carbon Technologies.

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