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Nokia begins work on graphene, world's strongest material

The mobile-phone maker receives a $1.35 billion grant to work on development of the 2D wonder-material that is stronger, lighter, and thinner than anything else on Earth.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
A model of a sheet of graphene. Swedish Academy of Sciences

Forget diamonds, graphene is now the world's hardest material. And all sorts of developers most likely want to get their hands on it.

Nokia looks to be ahead of the game in this graphene race. The Finnish mobile-phone maker announced today that it was one of the recipients of a $1.35 billion grant from the European Union to do research and development on the supermaterial over the next 10 years.

"Nokia is proud to be involved with this project, and we have deep roots in the field -- we first started working with graphene already in 2006," Nokia's CTO Henry Tirri said in a statement. "Since then, we have come to identify multiple areas where this material can be applied in modern computing environments. We've done some very promising work so far, but I believe the greatest innovations have yet to be discovered."

Besides being the hardest substance in the world -- 300 times stronger than steel -- graphene has all sorts of other noteworthy qualities. It is also the thinnest object ever obtained by man -- measuring just one atom thick -- and the lightest. It is made of a 2D crystal and looks a bit like scotch tape, only infinitely thinner. Graphene is also transparent, bendable, and a far better conductor than copper.

If Nokia is successful in its development of the material, it will be able to build cell phones that are extremely light, durable, and less susceptible to overheating.

"When we talk about graphene, we've reached a tipping point. We're now looking at the beginning of a graphene revolution," Jani Kivioja, a research leader at Nokia Research Center, said in the statement. "Before this point in time, we figured out a way to manufacture cheap iron that led to the Industrial Revolution. Then there was silicon. Now it's time for graphene."

Here is a video by Cambridge University about the properties of graphene: