Graphene – The next revolution in smartphone touchscreen

Graphene is a pure carbon in the
form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet, one atom thick. It is remarkably
strong for its very low weight (100 times stronger than steel) and it conducts
heat and electricity with great efficiency.While scientists had theorized about
graphene for decades, it was first produced in the lab in 2003.Because it is
virtually two-dimensional, it interacts oddly with light and with other
materials. Researchers have identified the bipolar transistor effect, ballistic
transport of charges and large quantum oscillations, as mentioned in Wikipedia.

Graphene, an emerging material that
could change the way electronic components are made and help computing
performance continue to grow, is everywhere in the research world these days.
could boost internet speeds, serve as a touch sensitive coating and extend the
lives of computers. It is stronger than diamond and conducts electricity and
heat better than any material ever discovered, and it will likely play an
important role in many products and processes in the future.

The wonder material Graphene is set
to revolutionize the smartphone industry by replacing current touchscreen
technology, researchers have claimed.Currently, the majority of tablets and
smartphones are made using indium tin oxide, which is both expensive and
inflexible. Crack a screen and you’ll know about the first of those problems.
The second might start to become apparent if the industry starts to produce
bendable communications devices, perhaps in the form of smartwatches which
could clearly benefit from a bit of flexibility.Graphene is considerably
cheaper than the materials used in most modern smartphones.

Graphene Crystal (Photo credit:

Dr Alan Dalton of the University of
Surrey led the investigation into the new material. Working alongside
researchers at the University of Dublin, he oversaw the production of hybrid
electrodes, the “building blocks of touchscreen technology”, using silver
nanowires and graphene.“The growing market in devices such as wearable
technology and bendable smart displays poses a challenge to manufacturers. They
want to offer consumers flexible, touchscreen technology but at an affordable
and realistic price. At the moment, this market is severely limited in the
materials to hand, which are both very expensive to make and designed for
rigid, flat devices.”

Dr IzabelaJurewicz of the University
of Surrey said, “Our work has cut the amount of expensive nanowires required to
build such touchscreens by more than fifty times as well as simplifying the
production process. We achieved this using graphene, a material that can
conduct electricity and interpret touch commands whilst still being
transparent.”The team is currently working with industrial partners to
“implement the research into future devices”.Don’t expect to be buying a
smartphone with a graphene screen any time though, because truly scalable
production of the material is still little more than an ambition.

The use of graphene in everyday life
is not far off, due in part to existing research into carbon nanotubes — the
rolled, cylindrical version of graphene. The tubes were popularized by a 1991
paper (subscription required) and touted for their incredible physical
qualities, most of which are very similar to graphene. But it is easier to
produce large sheets of graphene and it can be made in a similar way to
silicon. Many of the current and planned applications for carbon nanotubes are
now being adapted to graphene.

Graphene is transparent (it
transmits up to 97.7% of light), and it also has low electrical resistance and
is flexible. Therefore, it’s a good candidate for flexible electronics and
screens. Samsung, for example, is developing the transparent graphene
electrodes to serve as smartphone touchscreens.Researchers out of Gwangju
Institute of Science and Technology have developed highly porous graphene-based
super capacitors that they, “can fully charge in just 16 seconds and have
repeated this some 10,000 times without a significant reduction in
capacitance.” Imagine charging your iPhone in 30 seconds, or your Tesla in a
few minutes.Graphene could be used in many applications such as energy storage,
desalinization, filtration, medical applications, solar cells, material
composites, computing, electronics and many more. 


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