Despite only being an atom thick, graphene is the strongest material known to man. This form of carbon is not only the hardest known material on the planet, but also the most flexible. It’s also an incredible conductor of electricity and heat and, unlike other conductive materials, it doesn’t oxidise when submerged in liquids.

These properties all mean that graphene’s potential for transforming technology is endless: flexible devices, intelligent clothing, and computers that can interface with cells in the body.

graphene

However, graphene has been around for a lot longer than you might think. Despite the fact that it was discovered a decade ago (centuries in the high-paced world of technology), organisations are only just beginning to look into producing it commercially. It is transparent, conductive and flexible – incredibly rare attributes to find together in one substance. Add in the fact that it’s remarkably cheap to produce and you can see why the scientific and business communities are so excited by the possibilities.

Samsung have been producing high-quality graphene on silicon wafers, which mean they could start making flexible displays, wearable devices and other next-generation electronics any day now. IBM, Nokia and SanDisk have all been exploring methods of creating sensors, transistors and memory storage using the substance. In short, anything made today in the electronics industry can be made better, smaller and cheaper using graphene.

In addition to its potential applications for gadgetry, the airline industry is looking at graphene as a lightweight substance to build aircraft. As if that wasn’t enough, carmakers are looking into creating graphene bodywork capable of acting as solar panels – so electric cars can charge themselves as they run.

Although graphene is shaping up to be the next-generation construction material for gadgets and other technology, let the buyer beware. There are huge industries built around traditional silicon chips and transistors, which are unlikely to stand idly by and see their revenue dwindle without a fight. They’ll be slow to adopt, and in the coming years you might even see a fight breaking out as these companies battle to protect their businesses.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/multimedia/100000002651720/on-the-verge-of-a-graphene-gold-rush.html