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Emirati brothers shock scientists with breakthrough invention

Jasmine Al Kuttab/Abu Dhabi
Filed on February 26, 2017 | Last updated on February 28, 2017 at 09.26 am
Emirati brothers shock scientists with breakthrough invention

Rashed Al Fahim, Mohammed Al Fahim and Dr Larry Burchfield

Novamene

The team said their invention would help develop better batteries, semi-conductors and better solar power.

Abu Dhabi - Two young Emirati brothers and a UAE based American nuclear chemist have developed what could be the-next-big-thing in science, which they claim: "Has the potential to change the world of technology, as we know it."

Mohammed Al Fahim, 29, his younger brother Rashed, 24, and Dr Larry A Burchfield, 65, have always had a long passion for science. However, in the world of physics and chemistry, one truly needs to think outside the box to discover something astonishingly groundbreaking and potentially change the lives of millions, if not billions of people - the Al Fahims and Dr Burchfield done just that, right here in Abu Dhabi.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, the team shared how they recently invented a brand a new class of carbon allotropes, which Moahmmed Al Fahim dubbed as 'Novamene.'

"We were not allowed to speak about this discovery until recently when international scientists, professors, global research journals and lab tests confirmed our invention."

"Novamene has the potential applications for transistors and other electronic components and could rival graphene as the next wonder martial for use in technology and energy," added Mohammed.

The team's invention could develop more efficient batteries, semi-conductors and better solar power, thus help create clean, renewable energy and protect the environment.

The last inventors in the field were Sir Andre Geim and Sir Konstantin Novoselov, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their work in graphene, and were even awarded the Knight Bachelor.

Dr Burchfield, who arrived to the UAE from Washington State in 2013, explained why the new UAE discovery could be a global revolution to all mankind.

He noted that the good old fashioned diamond that many of us are familiar with, has the same element carbon as graphene, thus the team came up with a new classification that resides on the concept of combining hexagonal diamond and ring carbon.

Craphene, which is the tiniest component known to man, is the best conductor of heat and electricity and, hence, is widely used in everyday electronic applications.

"No one thought you could combine graphene with diamond, but it was like a vault of lightening that struck us."

"If you study how these inventions are first created, you will realise that such inventions - historically - were discovered in the craziest ways," added Dr Burchfield, who is also the founder of The Radio Chemistry Society.

Rashed, who works for Miral Asset Management, pointed out that although the team knew they could create something out of the ordinary, they needed the proper tools to start with, which were not available in the UAE.

The team thus purchased Dh6000 molecule model kits from Amazon to test their theory. Next thing they know, what started off as a Dh6000 test-drive, now has the potential of becoming a multi-billion dollar industry.

"We met with a professor from New York University of Abu Dhabi and showed him what we came up with - he was in absolute awe."
Dr Burchfield and the Al Fahim brothers then contacted the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington for further testing, however, scientists were skeptic about their theory.

"If people are skeptical about your idea, then it means you came up with something life-changing," said Dr Burchfield.

The lab eventually completed a computer simulation and confirmed what the team were anticipating all along. The confirmation however, needed to be published in a scientific journal to give it credibility, and this is when Professor Nikola Manini, who was all the way in the University of Milan, became involved.

"Professor Manini said something that all scientists want to hear: 'How on Earth did you come up with this!."

Without hesitation, Dr Burchfield flew to Milan to work alongside Professor Manini, where they further tested the theory.
"It was finally confirmed that this molecule acts like a semi-conductor, which is more powerful than any computer." At last, the team's vision came to life and their discovery was published in the UK-based scientific journal, Heliyon, in February. "Building a computer of out this will make the machine a millions times more powerful," said Rashed.

"I don't believe there was ever a molecule out there that could act as a switch, so this is truly a revolution in technology," added Dr Burchfield. The team highlighted that their discovery works hand-in-hand with the UAE's vision, as a renewable energy nation. "Several applications can be made from this, including better batteries, semi-conductors and better solar power, which will save a whole lot of energy that is wasted today and eventually change the life of our planet," Dr Burchfield explained.

"Five to 10 per cent of all electricity is used on the internet, and a lot of that is on data centers, but this invention will save energy." Dr Burchfield said wherever the road will take the team in the future, he is surely proud of the young Emirati men who walked through the ups and downs with him, during the journey of a ground-breaking scientific discovery.

"It is not a stretch to say that this is the most crucial Emirati scientific discovery of all time," he added. The Al Fahim brothers said that working alongside Dr Burchfield, was certainly nothing short of an inspiration, as the urge for experimenting with science has been pumping through their veins since childhood.

"This invention was born in the UAE - it is rooted here," noted Rashed. "We are certain that other countries will soon re-create what we discovered, so we are proud to say the-next-big-thing in technology was invented in the UAE," added Mohammed.

jasmine@khaleejtimes.com





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