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Goodbye silicon chips - and hello graphene

Reputed to be 200 times stronger than structural steel, graphene is tipped as the replacement for the silicon chips that power today's information technology. According to a Wikipedia description citing research reports, graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice resembling chicken wire.

Its versatility has been compared to plastics since research teams including scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2010 for proving that single layers of the material could be isolated. It is an excellent thermal and electronic conductor that can be used to develop semiconductor circuits and computer parts.

This 21st-century technology now looks set to dominate the coming decades in information technology (IT) and will transform the communications industry. But, unlike in previous technology revolutions, the West is not in the lead in this instance.

The companies that are working hardest to incorporate the new material into future products are based thousands of miles away from California's Silicon Valley.

Samsung, for example, is already using graphene to enhance its existing product range while investing heavily in more-advanced future use. The South Korean company is understood to be working on producing graphene-based flexible transparent screens for the consumer electronics market.

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