Frank: I'm with you. The advance in research and theory is always inspiring, but I'd be interested to know where this is in the pipleline that flows from academia to the production flaw. We know that some technologies never make it all the way through, but it's nice to keep an eye on their progress.
Does anyone know, or can even speculate, on how long it typically takes for such advances to result in a practical prototype of an actual product? Surely, there's some sort of rule of thumb on that...?
It is just a start, I think all the sensors associated with either of force/pressure/vibration will be having a complete makeover and miniaturization of their size and shape. But the durability will be the property of testing still.
I think the newer MEMS will not a problem as far as manufacturing is concern, as they have already a prototype (As seen from the picture in the article). But application and acceptance will be dependent on the manufacturers' efforts.
The graphene here was deposited with chemical vapor deposition (CVD) which is relatively easy to do for small islands, but impossibly difficult to grow across a whole wafer. The rest of the process was typical MEMS--deposit on SiO2, etch out the SiO2 underneath the graphene (see black slit in photo), leaving a suspended membrane.
All the major semiconductor makers are working on graphene deposition in hopes of bringing this new material into the CMOS workflow. Many of them tell me they are close, but my experience has been that it takes as long as a decade to introduce a new material..
It is a long way to productization of Graphene-based MEMS. As many commentors pointed out below, the manufacturing infrastructure for MEMS, in particular the backend part will see major disruptions with the introduction of such devices. Etching out SiO2 underneath the Graphene to the accuracy needed is no walk in the park!
More over, other 'mechanical' responses of MEMS need to be innovated with Graphene.