Five Ways Graphene Will Transform Technology

Scientific showing a piece of graphene with hexagonal molecule.Can you imagine a material that could be used to weave a net strong enough to hold a typical housecat, while being lighter than one of the cat’s whiskers?

This material, graphene, is a reality.  Its namesake is derived from the same material as it is: graphite.  Yes, the same material found in ordinary pencils, when sliced to a thickness of one atom, results in a supermaterial.

Over a hundred times stronger than steel, graphene is at the same time nearly weightless.  Its combination of strength, lightness, and conductivity is almost unparalleled in any other material.

So what does this mean for us?

1.    Faster Internet (times a million)
Very often today we’re frustrated with endless loading, buffering, or other symptoms of slow internet connection.  A Yahoo Tech article reports that an antenna made of graphene was able to “transfer an entire terabit of data in one second”, which is equal to 1,000 gigabits, while “the average U.S. broadband Internet speed is 10 megabits per second.”, or approximately one-millonth the speed.  For more details
2.    Flexible, Foldable Touchscreens?
The touchscreen itself is still a marvel to many even though it has been in use for some years now.  But what if you didn’t just have a touchscreen, but one that you could bend, and, when you had to take it somewhere – fold up and put in your pocket?  It sounds crazy, but it is one of the many things that scientists are eager to develop using graphene.
3.    More Efficient Solar Panels
If you’re interested in ‘going green’ when it comes to energy, you may know that one of the biggest challenges for sources of renewable energy is their lack of efficiency in comparison to their high cost.  Currently in use for solar panels are silicon photovoltaic cells, but they reflect a lot of light, while graphene would be far more absorbent, resulting in less energy wasted.
4.    Near-instant Charging
Graphene’s conductivity, versatility, and sensitivity to light entail that it can be molded into a battery.  So whether it’s a phone, now notorious for taking a long time to charge, or whether it’s rechargeable batteries, you can look forward to saying goodbye to long charging times.
5.    A Device Revolution
Between cameras, smartphones, video game consoles, and computers, we have a lot of different devices made for different functions.  But “graphene, with its perceived infinite laser-configurability as a motherboard, could morph into virtually any kind of computer. Different sheets could handle different functions at the same time in the space of a tiny sheet of paper.” (Yahoo tech) What’s more, these graphene-produced devices could be upgraded remotely.  No more having to wait in line for the latest smartphone – you already have it.

Graphene’s discoverers, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010.  When it comes to their material, according to a Nobel Prize press release: “As a conductor of electricity it performs as well as copper. As a conductor of heat it outperforms all other known materials… Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth, has surprised us once again.”

Mass production of the aforementioned technologies has faced several obstacles, including producing large and continuous sheets of graphene, but as these challenges are slowly but surely overcome – get ready for some incredible innovation.