Nokia Developing World’s Strongest Material
A $1.35 billion dollar grant has been awarded to Nokia by the European Commission to research and develop graphene, the world’s strongest material, over the next ten years. The grant was part of the EC’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) multi-billion euro research award competition, and it was the largest research grant ever awarded by them.
Nokia’s CTO Henry Tirri said earlier in statement, “Nokia is proud to be involved with this project, and we have deep roots in the field… we first started working with graphene already in 2006… Since then, we have come to identify multiple areas where this material can be applied in modern computing environments. We’ve done some very promising work so far, but I believe the greatest innovations have yet to be discovered.“
Graphene, aside from being the hardest material on the planet, is also the thinnest object ever attained by mankind. It measures just one atom thick. It’s also transparent, conducts electricity 1,000 times better than silicon, is flexible enough for manufacturing and is 100 to 300 times stronger than steel (theoretically). Graphene is composed of pure carbon. On an atomic scale, it looks like a sheet of honeycombs, or chicken wire.
This move forward with graphene mass production has a few researchers speculating that this could very well be the beginning of a new revolution. It’s possible that graphene could become as important as plastics were in the 20th Century.
If Nokia meets their goals and develops the material successfully, we very well may see the development of extremely lightweight, durable material unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. There are many potential applications for the material including, but not limited to, display screen production, electrical circuitry, greater battery capacity, single-molecule gas detection and desalination. We could even begin to see production of advanced aircraft materials, synthetic retinas and graphene computer chips. (check out Dr. Leonid Ponomarenko’s work at Manchester University.) It’s a really exciting step in industrial evolution, but we’re only at the beginning.
Jani Kivioja, a Nokia Research Center researcher, said, “When we talk about graphene, we’ve reached a tipping point. We’re now looking at the beginning of a graphene revolution… Before this point in time, we figured out a way to manufacture cheap iron that led to the Industrial Revolution. Then there was silicon. Now, it’s time for graphene.“
I would keep an eye on Nokia, their success with this material might mean serious business over the next decade.
The EC has said that continually funding for the full duration of this project will come principally from the Horizon 2020 program which begins next year. It seems that the EC’s FET was designed over a longer period of time to ensure that substantial progress was made in graphene production sciences.
EC Vice President Neelie Kroes said in a statement, “Europe’s position as a knowledge superpower depends on thinking the unthinkable and exploiting the best ideas. This multi-billion competition rewards home-grown scientific breakthroughs and shows that when we are ambitious we can develop the best research in Europe.”
Kroes further said that she expected a “graphene valley” to emerge in Europe and drive this new era of innovation.
Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground on this one. Graphene manufacturing could change everything.
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