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How will graphene change our lives?

Story supplied by LU Press Office

Lancaster University's Professor Vladimir Falko Lancaster University's Professor Vladimir Falko

Wonder material graphene could not only dominate the electronic market in the near future, it could also lead to a huge range of new markets and novel applications, according to a landmark paper by the University of Manchester and Lancaster University.

Writing in Nature, Nobel Prize-winner Professor Kostya Novoselov and an international team of authors including Vladimir Falko of Lancaster University, has produced a graphene roadmap which for the first time sets out what the world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive material can truly achieve.

The paper details how graphene has the potential to revolutionise diverse applications from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to anticancer drugs and computer chips.

Touchscreen devices

One key area is touchscreen devices, such as Apple's iPad, which use indium tin oxide. Graphene's outstanding mechanical flexibility and chemical durability are far superior. Graphene touchscreen devices would prove far more long-lasting and would open a way for flexible devices.

The authors estimate that the first graphene touchscreen devices could be on the market within three to five years, but it will only realise its full potential in flexible electronics applications.

E-paper

Rollable e-paper is another application which should be available as a prototype by 2015 - graphene's flexibility proving ideal for fold-up electronic sheets which could revolutionise electronics.

Timescales for applications vary greatly depending upon the quality of graphene required, the report claims. For example, the researchers estimate devices including photo-detectors, high-speed wireless communications and THz generators (for use in medical imaging and security devices) would not be available until at least 2020, while anticancer drugs and graphene as a replacement for silicon is unlikely to become a reality until around 2030.

Professor Vladimir Falko, who co-authored the paper, said: "In our paper, we aim to raise awareness and alert engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to the enormous potential of graphene to improve the existing technologies and to generate new products.

"In some countries, including Korea, Poland and the UK, national funding agencies already run multi-million engineering-led research programmes aiming at commercialisation of graphene at a large scale."

Thu 11 October 2012