Graphene: The real deal, or overhyped?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: March 10, 2013

 

Making headlines all over the mobile industry lately is the dubbed “super material” graphene, which is an atomic structure measuring only one atom thick – making it the thinnest material ever created. Not only is the material thin, but it’s also incredibly strong and flexible. We’ve seen a lot of ideas for newer and stronger technologies stem from the use of this new material, but without seeing just how well the use of the material can be applied will really tell whether graphene is the real deal or significantly overhyped.

The material itself has a ton of potential, but potential hardly means anything if you don’t have the investment or the creative minds to put it to work. However, it seems that as of late many companies are interested in making something out of graphene. Almost every day when I browse technological news there is another headliner boasting about the newest potential that graphene can gives us – stronger device, bendable phones, longer battery life, and better wireless signal. It’s like this material can virtually do anything considering the amazing properties it manifests.

But this kind of thing is easier said than done, and this wouldn’t be the first time a promising technology was hyped up to the utmost proportion only to come crashing down as one big disappointment. Even the pending success of graphene could fail because although the material has the potential, it’s only going to work the way we want it to by using the highest grade of graphene – something that’s not yet able to be produced on an industrial level. It will be quite a few years to include all of the possibilities of graphene into our gadgets.

Graphene is expected to start showing up in mobile phones later this year from big name manufacturers like Samsung and Nokia, although this has not officially been confirmed. However, Samsung did have a flexible display prototype on demo at CES 2013, so even if the finished product is not completed this year we can at least confirm that at least one of the companies is working on the technology.

Flexible displays are only the beginning of what graphene is supposedly able to do, though.

While bendy cell phones are the talk of the town at the moment, it’s only because it looks to be available in the near future. Beyond that, graphene is said to hold a lot of potential that extends beyond cell phones. Other potential uses for graphene include solar panels for environment-friendly charging, bionic devices, and overall better battery life for a multitude of devices. For the first time in a long time, this is a technology that is so versatile it can actually be a game changer in most technologies we see today. I see nothing gimmicky or tacky about graphene – if anything is going to be called innovative these days, it should be graphene.

There is a huge hype surrounding this product, and it was nothing but a whisper of a word only a few years ago. I myself hadn’t even heard about the material until a couple of months ago. Just by the understanding that this material which is said to be stronger than diamonds, more flexible than rubber, and more conductive than copper is enough to spark anybody’s interest as it could benefit us all if used correctly. If companies like Samsung and Nokia are already seeing the benefits of the material, I imagine it won’t take long for it to start gaining infinite momentum geared towards improving all of those things that we want to see improved upon.

Do I think graphene is overhyped? I don’t think so. The potential of this material is great and I find it extremely interesting to learn about. How it’s constructed, how it’s improved since scientists and inventors have started working on it – it’s an intriguing thing to learn about and if you have the time I highly suggest reading up on it. I really think that graphene is the real deal as long as people approach the use of the material in the correct manner.

Then again, I thought the BlackBerry Z10 was too at first so maybe my opinion isn’t always on point.

Readers, how do you feel about future products incorporating the use of graphene? Is it something you could benefit from (bendable screens, potentially better battery life, faster download speeds)? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Image via AndroidPit

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