Sounds like a no-brainer that the toxicity of graphene would preclude its use in in-body medical devices, but then again the article implies that the study is concerned about the safe manufacturing process. I wonder if the medical regulations will ban graphene for certain uses.
This does not sound positive for the future of graphene. Thanks for the information. Even though there are some positiveness brought into this article by the information provided in the para "...developing safer methods of manufacturing, handling, and utilizing them throughout their lifecycles". But I think that the world is moving to the future, when electronics might be part of every activities in our lives, there will be stricter norms for a safer environment, better heath, better quality of life...like Europe making regulatory compliance requirement for all electronics RoHS compliant by 2017...regulatory compulsions might impose stricter norms going forward and could be a hurdle for Graphene if this study is proven and approved by others. What do you think?
I would like to know what other materials pierce cells - I am sure there are many - also, what happens to the material when absorbed by the cell - is it incapsulated and broken down, or neutralized? The image looks bad (great image btw), but what are the long term affects?
The short-term effects were bad enough in a petri dish, hopefully we'll never know the long-term effects, but insted will engineering better methods of manfacturing graphene that eliminates its toxicity.
As the graphene particles are exposing about the same shape as asbestos fibres: expect similar effects. Except when they are small enough to be absorbed. Then: switch to the effects of carbon-particulate matter.
Thank you - it's hard to know how materials might affect us as there are so many threats short/long term - we have natural Asbestos in my area, and those prions from BSE and others scare the hell out of me.
Reg the Graphene - is it handled at all in a cell, or does it kill the cell, would the body remove the dead cell with the graphene in it - did I miss that in the article?
If graphine was made without the sharp edges could it be worn or broken/ablated, degraded by U/V or some other process to allow those edges to be recreated?
Whenever I hear about these new materials I alway am reminded of the Ringworld Series of books by Larry Niven.
The toxicity will mostly jeopardize the workers handling the powders, which for chemical vapor deposition (CVD) would be the fab workers in the bunny suits. Once the graphene is fixed in place with CVD on a substrate it should be safe--until the chips end of life when it comes apart in the landfill.
I think we're way past the time when the eletronics industry should face the same requirement as, say, the tire industry: provide money to dispose of products at the end of their lives, just as we're charged a federal tax on tires to help pay for their disposal. We just can use stuff and dump it after each product cycle -- it' s suicide.
Do you think it would be reasonable to have a 0.5 percent excise tax on all electronics to help pay for their safe disposal when their lie is over?
I agree that a disposal levy is a good idea.
I wonder how it would work if users were also allowed to mail back unwanted goods to the original vendor at the vendor's expense.
I suspect that would produce a different design behaviour and focus on recyclability of materials at the company.
However because companies go bust, get bought this has to operate alongside a levy to pay for cases where there is no one to send the goods to.
Good point, Peter. You know HP and some other companies provide "return" boxes with cartridges for large office printers. I think that makes sense in that kind of situation. HP actually refills those, and sell them again, like Coke used to do with soda bottles.
But you're right, companies come and go. So I think there should be recycling stations where you can drop of used electronics. This is getting to be a cottage industry in many areas now, because some business owners realized they can make a buck off it. I'd like to see a more organized effort where consumers would receive an incentive to turn in used goods, and retailers would profit from turning them over to a recycler.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind paying a small levy if it helped keep my toxic junk out of a landfill.
As you are probably aware in Europe we have regulations on recycling of electrical and electronics equipent (WEEE) and high charges for landfill to try and drive recycling.
However, the high cost of responsible recycling in Europe has contributed to the phenomenon of "off-shoring" of electronic disposal with containers of waste equipment being shipped around the globe to such places as Nigeria, India and China.....where unregulated "recycling" of hazardous materials has been done in very hazardous conditions. At the same time some unscrupulous people try to "mine" for valuable western bank account details on the disk drives of these broken PCs.
Just as we increasingly shred paper documents from banks etc to try and protect our online identities it is become increasingly important to put a hammer through any disk drives that may contain sensitive information because who knows who will be assessing it once you throw the equipment out.
While there has been some focus on work practices during the making of consumer electronics (in China and elsewhere) there also needs to an emphasis on the end-of-life processes.
The researcher Agnes Kanes told me that their purpose was to make graphene safe for all types of applications, including medical implants, by engineering their properties to be non-toxic. In order to do so, her team had to first determine how graphene powders disruputs cell functions, which was the sharp corners. Their next step will be to engineer methods of eliminating the sharp corners that are piercing cell walls.
I'm not sure Graphene's toxicity matters when a finished product it used internally, A device using graphene transistor equivalents will be bonded to a package's leadframe and encapsulated in a resin then mounted to a circuit board and then placed in an enclosure made of biocompatible plastics or titanium with a battery. That will then be placed in the body. It really is only the manufacturing processes and maybe the disposal methods that will be at issue. Disposal may be incineration so won't be a problem.
I did some work that required epoxy potting and we used silica powder as a stabiliser and economy filler and that is dangerous because the dust particles are so fine that they penetrate deep into the lungs. We used dust masks and fans for safety. Once potted there was no risk.
Even modern diesel engines make nanoscale particles of carbon compared to the 15-40um particles of older diesels. It's so fine that there's talk of lung cancer being an issue because it penetrates so deeply into the lungs.
So really what I'm saying is it's only when the materials are freely available as a nanoscale particle that they represent a risk, packaged parts really have no issue.
Look even at Beryllium oxide, used as a die insulator in RF transistors, yet extremely toxic.
"Even modern diesel engines make nanoscale particles of carbon compared to the 15-40um particles of older diesels. It's so fine that there's talk of lung cancer being an issue because it penetrates so deeply into the lungs. "
This the first I've heard of modern diesel engines putting out nanoscale carbon particles. Do you have a link to anything that talks about this?
The guys over at iFixit, who sell a repair kit so that you can fix your own electronic devices rather than throwing away (or sending them back to the manufacturer for repair at an astronomical price have a huge goal: To eliminate all electronics waste. Aggressive, yes, but I think these guys have got it right.
This is actually a very important argument AGAINST lead free electronics. The higher melting point of lead free solder combined with copper migration of the acual copper laminate mean that lead free products are almost unserviceable. I can pull an IC off a PCB and replace it around 10 times before the board starts to wear out, yet lead free typically fails at the first or second attempt to rework. I too don't like trashing equipment that has given a few good years of service and then dies, but that ideology is being made near impossible by European legislation that is causing a global move to lead free.