Graphene: Bend, Wear, Dip, It s Future
Graphene is the strongest and thinnest material known so far. It is a form of carbon, can conduct electricity and heat better than anything else known to man. To boot it, it is also one of the most pliable materials ever. Think of it: Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and is so thin that a single ounce can cover 28 football fields. Some Chinese scientists have created a graphene aerogel, an ultra-light material which is 1/7th the weight of air.
Graphene is one of the few materials that are transparent, conductive and flexible at the same time — properties rare to find together in one material. Just a single atom thick, graphene has been labelled the wonder material, which could transform the electronics industry by making possible flexible devices, supercharged quantum computers, electronic clothing and computers that can talk to your body cells. It started gaining attention in 2010 when two Manchester University physicists got the Nobel for their experiments on it. Recently, researchers have focused on how to produce graphene commercially.
Researchers say that we could soon have electronics appliances that are thinner, faster and cheaper than anything based on silicon. In 2011, Northwestern University built a battery that incorporated graphene and silicon, which can lead to a cellphone that remains charged for more than a week and recharges in 15 minutes. Advancements in graphene have resulted in touch-screen electronics that could make cellphones thin like a piece of paper and foldable to slip into your pocket.
Just last week, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Sungkyunkwan University, reported creating high-quality graphene on silicon wafers, which could be used to produce graphene transistors. These exciting advancements mean that we can possibly have flexible displays, wearables and other next-generation electronic devices. Samsung is not the only one working on graphene; IBM, Nokia and SanDisk have also been experimenting with it to create sensors, transistors and memory storage.
When these devices finally become a reality at your nearest store, they could look and feel like the unthinkable. And the icing on the cake? Graphene is inexpensive. The University of California, Berkeley has made graphene speakers that deliver sound quality equal to or better than Sennheiser earphones despite being much smaller.
Last year, as part of its fight against AIDS, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had paid for the development of a graphene-based condom that will be thin, light and impenetrable. Carmakers are exploring making cars with graphene bodies that are protective and also charge the battery. If all this is not enough, MIT has performed tests that could create quantum computers, which would be a big future market for computing globally.