- For this month’s focus on technological advancements, we focus on a material that holds promise to solve many of our world’s problems, graphene.
Graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of pure carbon which is both extremely light and strong. One of the biggest challenges of working with graphene is producing it in both an economic fashion and in large quantities; and so this series of ideas hopes to overcome this major hurdle. To make 3D graphene sheets, this research uses bubbles blown in a glucose polymer solution. Who would have thought that a common kitchen appliance might be able to create low-cost graphene, well this research shows that a blender might be able to do just this. Currently, graphene is commonly made on a metal substrate that has little use and is difficult to separate from the carbon sheet, so this research purports growing graphene on a substrate that has a use, such as a piece of glass that could be used in a solar panel. Finally, this research proposes artificial graphene sheets made from self-assembling nano-crystals.
Now, here are three novel ideas for uses of graphene once it can be created economically for commercial applications. One use is more efficient solar panels as this research shows. Or how about filtered and even desalinated water simply by passing it through a graphene sheet with no extra energy required? This research uses a graphene sheet and then drags saltwater over it to generate electricity.
- Have you ever stopped and considered what are the world’s deadliest animals? Well, admittedly, before I saw this icongraphic put together by Bill Gates, I hadn’t either! If you give the list a quick look over, I think you will find some interesting factoids.
- It’s summer time and that means baseball, cotton candy and unfortunately tornadoes, so this month I Googled, “GIS and tornadoes.” The results of this search were extensive and one of the better studies was completed by Mitchel Stimers of Kansas State University. In this paper, Stimers examined the placement and coverage of early warning sirens for tornadoes. The conclusions of this paper make me wonder if more counties in Tornado Alley need to replicate this approach.
- From the great state of Maryland, we head up the Atlantic coastline to Massachusetts’ largest city, Boston, for a look at their online GIS resources. First the good news, Boston has a wide variety of online thematic maps that can be accessed here. The maps feature layers that can be toggled on and off so that you can create your own customized displays. The bad news is that the shapefiles and rasters used to make these online maps do not appear to be readily downloadable. The website mentions that all of this data is free to the public so I would assume that submitting a request at this website should get you the raw data files you need!
Brock Adam McCarty