Commentary

Mobile World Congress 2016: Graphene And The Future Of Mobility

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, March 3, 2016

Mobile World Congress took place last week in Barcelona. Every year this event offers a technology or company that provides a view of the future. This year, it was the Graphene Pavilion.

What is graphene and why should brands and marketers care? Graphene is one of the most versatile substances available to mankind. The first 2D atomic crystal -- a single layer of carbon atoms -- it is the thinnest object ever obtained (a million times thinner than a human hair). It is also the world’s strongest material (stronger than a diamond, 200 times stronger than steel), yet lightweight and flexible.

Graphene is impermeable to molecules, and is extremely electrically and thermally conductive -- graphene enables electrons to flow much faster than silicon. It is also a transparent conductor, combining electrical and optical functionalities in an exceptional way. The groundbreaking experiments on graphene resulted in European physicists Professor Sir Andre Geim and Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov winning the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics

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Brands and marketers need to be aware of the coming world of flexible smart screen technology. One particular area in which we will soon begin to see graphene used on a commercial scale is on liquid crystal displays (LCD). Graphene LCD touchscreens for smartphones, tablets and desktop computers and televisions are in the early stages of development. In terms of potential real-world electronic applications, we can eventually expect to see such devices as graphene based e-paper with the ability to display interactive and updatable information and flexible electronic devices including portable computers and televisions.

Imagine getting the Nieman Marcus graphene catalogue where the images and sale prices are updated in real-time. We have seen the impact of different media form factors from big radios to portable transistor radios to the Sony Walkman to the iPhone. The time to embrace the future is now, and wise brands and marketers should seek to further their knowledge on graphene and engage in trials in preparation for commercial deployment.

Graphene could have a significant impact across other industries and sectors such as electronics, medicine, aerospace, automotive, energy storage, water desalination, coatings and paints, solar technologies, oil and communications. 

Potential applications for graphene include:

New medical / living tissue technologies, including rapid DNA sequencing, targeted drug delivery, tissue regeneration and bionic implants such as artificial retinas

Light, ultra-efficient super capacitors, a thousand times faster than standard batteries

Light, flexible, shatter-proof touchscreens for mobile phones, tablets and wearable technology

A number of graphene-based and graphene-enhanced products are already on the market, including graphene-based touchscreens, lightweight tennis rackets and an anti-theft packaging system.  

Other devices including a flexible electrophoretic display for e-book readershave already reached prototype stage, and further prototypes of graphene-based display devices, such as flexible touchscreens, rollable e-paper and foldable OLEDs (optical light-emitting diodes) based on medium-quality graphene are likely to be rolled out over the next five years. 

In closing, it is no wonder that Mobile World Congress 2016 concluded last week with a record of 101,000 attendees, an increase of more than 6% from last year. What makes Mobile World Congress unique is the depth and diversity of the attendees whom came from 204 countries. The Mobile World Congress team carefully curates the technology and trends like graphene, which make this a dynamic event. 

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