Tech Industry

Samsung graphene breakthrough set to turn 'wonder material' into wearable tech

Samsung's future-gazing scientists claim to have cooked up a way of developing atom-thin silicon alternative graphene on a commercial scale.

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Samsung has made a breakthrough in a new 'wonder material' poised to build the next generation of wearable technology. The company's biggest brains have cooked up a technique for growing graphene on a larger scale that could take the atom-thin material from the lab to the real world.

Waving smoke from their blackened faces as they emerge from behind singed doors, the wild-haired white coats at Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology and Sungkyunkwan University say they've synthesised a crystal of graphene that retains its charge across a larger area. As published in Science Magazine and ScienceXpress, the research could lead to graphene production on a commercial or industrial scale.

Graphene, which is just one atom thick, has enormous potential for various revolutionary ideas, from flexible or unbreakable touchscreens to bionic implants or Bill Gates' condoms.

But research is still in the relatively early stages, with limits on the size of the graphene particles that current techniques can come up with. At the moment, the only way to synthesise a usable amount of the substance is to lump multiple graphene crystals together, but the result doesn't conduct electricity as well.

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Graphene is more conductive to electrical charge and heat than silicon, which is used in semiconductors today. At the same time, it manages to be stronger than steel while still remaining flexible, which according to Samsung makes it "the perfect material for use in flexible displays, wearables and other next generation electronic devices."

Is there anything this stuff can't do? It probably tastes amazing.

Graphene was first isolated in Manchester, Great Britain, in 2004, earning a Nobel Prize for its pioneers Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov. In the recent UK government budget, state cash was set aside to research the material, while companies like Samsung, Nokia and IBM are racing to develop it.