Graphene, the Next Battlefield for Tech Supremacy

May 16, 2014 - Written By Joshua Koh

Graphene is a super-material could revolutionize the tech industry and big name players such as Samsung and Apple, are scrambling to be the first to capitalize on the potential that Graphene brings to the table. Graphene basically refers to atom-thin carbon which is stretchable, transparent and possesses high electrical conductivity. It is also harder than diamond and is of the same material but due to how thin/small it is, makes properties such as electrical conductivity and transparency possible.

The immediate benefit of Graphene is the possibility of bendable touchscreen for wearable technology such as watches or foldable smartphones. This could mean that the days of cracking a screen simply by dropping mobile devices to be a thing of the past, thanks to the strength of Graphene. The second application comes for Graphene electrical conductivity being a 100 times more than that of silicon. This would translate to faster and more energy efficient microchips.

Another potential benefit of this electrical conductivity, would be that of batteries. Bloomberg reports that this could result in mobile phone being recharged in 15 minutes and having a battery lifespan of a week. This sounds also too good to be true seeing that as of now, by and large charging a mobile device is done almost daily and the only solution to this battery issue is to throw in a larger battery onto a mobile device. Another beneficiary would the touchscreens themselves as this could translate to more responsive and energy efficient screens.

The third possible application of Graphene is that of material technology. This could range from smart clothes and accessories with built-in sensors, chips and display. Ideas on implementation, would be embedding sensors onto patients’ clothing to monitor heart rate or blood pressure in hospitals, another idea would be the utilization of Graphene for Google Glasses to create better looking and comfortable models. Graphene’s excellent heat dispersion capabilities also translate to it being potentially useful for firefighting.

Thanks to these miraculous properties, it could very well be where Samsung and Apple’s patent wars shift to. As of now, Apple has 2 patents, while Samsung possesses a grand total of 405 with 38 being US based. This focus on patents is probably to prevent any competitors from being able to utilize Graphene even if they are the first to implement it onto devices. Hong Byung, a Seoul National University Professor, has indicated that several tech companies such as Samsung, Apple and Google have indicated their interest in his patents on mass producing Graphene displays in a cost effective manner.

In short, Graphene might very well be what defines the next Einstein. If and when Graphene is able to be used at every level of technology and at a cheap cost, this would probably mean that the future mobile devices we own is no longer limited to the shape of a ‘box’.