Russian scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
Throughout history Russian scientists have made great discoveries, ranging from the periodic table of chemical elements; It is not strange – at least for me – that it is they who provide the world with one of the permanent solutions to climate change.
In 2004, Geim and Novoselov discovered graphene which is considered the best discovery after the wheel; a discovery of such magnitude can only be carried out in laboratories that have state-of-the-art technology and large budgets for research in various areas. The best example of this type of installation is a synchrotron. A synchrotron is a light source, also known as a particle accelerator. It is appropriate to point out that Russia has 2 and that they are currently building the third.
Returning to the theme of the discovery made by Geim and Novoselov, it is important to say that graphene is obtained from an abundant substance in nature: graphite, which is part of our daily life, since it is used to make very varied objects, from the pencil mine to some bricks. Graphene is a two-dimensional nanometric material, consisting of a single layer of strongly cohesive carbon atoms, with a structure similar to that of a honeycomb because of its hexagonal atomic configuration. One millimeter of graphite contains three million layers of graphene. It is about 100,000 times thinner than human hair, however, it is nature’s toughest material; It is 200 times stronger than structural steel, with the same thickness, more flexible than carbon fiber, elastic and 5 times lighter than aluminum and the only one that is able to remain stable even with the thickness of an atom.
Graphene is endowed with great thermal and electrical conductivity, which allows it to dissipate heat and withstand intense electrical currents without heating. It is practically transparent, waterproof and so dense that even helium gas cannot pass through it. It presents many other qualities, such as the high mobility of its electrons, a property that elevates its potential use in the fast nano devices of the future.
Graphene has incredible mechanical, electronic, chemical, magnetic and optical properties that have made it one of the most studied nanomaterials today. In addition, being pure carbon, it is abundant in nature and ecological.
For all this, graphene will soon replace such important materials as silicon. The spectrum of possibilities of its application is of an amplitude and versatility such that it inaugurates a true technological revolution.
In my previous installment I talked about the circular economy as a strategy from which carbon dioxide would be reduced by up to 70% and that with it in 2030 urban waste can be reduced by 65%, I concluded the article asking what kind of fuel could replace oil, the answer is: graphene. Products made with graphene will practically be eternal, it will never break or scratch the display of your smartphone. A friend who read the last installment asked me which products based on the circular economy could be created in Mexico.
My answer is that before creating products we must find a way to obtain graphene in industrial quantities, since so far it takes a long and complicated process to obtain it. Several universities in Europe and the United States are working to achieve it; MIT recently managed to produce graphene in industrial and high quality quantities. It also works on the creation of various products, for example: filters that purify water, which in a single process leave it 100% pure; In addition to several medical solutions to eliminate cancer since it has been shown that graphene eliminates stem cancer cells, without damaging good cells.
If the Mexican Institute of Graphene was created in Mexico, instead of investing – or rather throwing money – in the creation of refineries, and put our best scientists to work in the mass and industrialized production of graphene, we could be pioneers, or create great research from graphene.
The Hidalgo government has understood the importance of having a space in which the country’s scientists work to generate the great changes that the world requires and has decided to participate in the construction of the first Mexican synchrotron; He has put on the table the first 500 million pesos, an amount that, needless to say, is insufficient for this purpose, since it requires the participation of various sectors, as well as other states that join the project.
Brazil is, so far, the only Latin American country that has a synchrotron and is already building the second. In Mexico 4 synchrotrons are needed, why not start building the first one? What would it mean to have a particle accelerator in Mexico? It would mean first level scientific research and development. Each synchrotron could employ more than 2,000 Mexican scientists, in addition to many jobs around, administrative staff, engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc. All Mexicans who have gone to other countries to develop or investigate, we give those countries the right to our work. If we did these jobs in Mexico, we would give our country the wealth that is generated from these investigations and further development.
The synchrotron that is planned to be built in Mexico would be the most advanced and sophisticated in the world; This project is directed by Dr. Del Río who has extensive experience and currently collaborates for the Australian synchrotron.
Ideally, the federal government invest in this, but so far the opposite occurs.
Dr. Lourdes Yáñez, president of CIRRS, works in the dissemination of the synchrotron with other state governments; It is a good source that Guanajuato wants to join the project.
Recently the colloquium “Expected benefits of building a synchrotron in Mexico” was held, several of us have joined this project.
Together with CIRRS we will create the only hub that will link companies with the Mexico synchrotron. The name of the hub is COPERNICU (www.copernicu.xyz). We want the talent of Mexicans not to go abroad. If the federal government wants to throw 56 billion pesos in 7 refineries, why not consider the option of investing one billion dollars in a synchrotron. Even Armenia, yes Armenia, already builds its first synchrotron. In Mexico the federal government refuses and does not have the right vision of the future; while the United States has 7 synchrotrons and since 1977 does not build refineries, the current government will build 7. Do decisions like that lead the country to the fourth transformation? Of course not, the real transformation will occur when the federal government invests in science.