SAMSUNG CLAIMS to have made a major breakthrough in graphene production, paving the way for truly flexible smartphones and wearables.
Graphene was first discovered in 2004, and is the world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive material. The material has long been heralded as having huge potential, as it is tougher than steel and more conductive to electrical charge and heat than silicon, despite measuring just one atom thick.
Since its discovery, manufacturing the material has been a problem, but Samsung claims to have found a better way.
Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), claims that, in partnership with Sungkyunkwan University, it has developed a way to produce graphene on a mass scale, boasting that it has synthesised a crystal of graphene that retains its charge across a larger area.
Samsung explains, "The new method developed by SAIT and Sungkyunkwan University synthesises large-area graphene into a single crystal on a semiconductor, maintaining its electric and mechanical properties. The new method repeatedly synthesises single crystal graphene on the current semiconductor wafer scale."
According to the firm, this breakthrough paves the way for truly flexible smartphones and wearable gadgets, as well as "next generation" electronic devices.
"This is one of the most significant breakthroughs in graphene research in history," said the laboratory leaders at SAIT Lab. "We expect this discovery to accelerate the commercializsation of graphene, which could unlock the next era of consumer electronic technology."
Samsung's research is still in the early stages, so graphene isn't likely to appear in devices anytime soon. Samsung is yet to cough on such details.
However, during discussion of the 2014 UK budget, George Osborne revealed plans for £74m in funding to exploit the commercial uses of graphene. This will see a graphene development centre set up in Manchester and investment into further research about the possible silicon replacement's capabilities. µ