According to a study in Nature Communications, the nano-carbon-derived material graphene could be used to create fiberoptic networking cables that carry data hundreds of times faster than current cabling.
Graphene – a cool-looking but bizarre material whose 'natural' state is as two-dimensional sheets a single atom thick, all bound tightly together in a hexagonal honeycomb pattern – is the strongest material ever tested. Even when it's used in layers more thin than any other material, the result is far more impermeable, flexible and conductive of electricity than current alternatives.
Samsung has demonstrated a 25-inch flexible touchscreen using a graphene base; IBM demonstrated high-speed switches in February, 2010 able to operate at 100 Ghz.
The problem for fiberoptic networking is that graphene is able to capture only a fraction of the light glass can, a weakness researchers overcame by running copper wires down the fiber, creating a basic solar cell that can capture the light graphene alone cannot.
Many electronics manufacturers have announced the intention to work graphene into future editions of their products, but the difficulty working with it means it will be several years before it leaves the lab and enters a product specification.
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