What might be considered the most exciting breakthrough in the world of materials is just around the corner.
Graphene, a material that was studied theoretically in the 1940s, is in the spotlight now as researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology and Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea said they are working on developing the wonder material.
Graphene is only a single atom thick, yet so pliable that a cell phone can fold and fit in a pocket like a piece of paper. A single ounce of the material could cover 28 football fields. It is a form of carbon that conducts heat and electricity and can also be submerged in liquid without oxidizing.
And get this: while it's light and pliable, it's also the hardest material in the world—some 200 times stronger than steel.
"This can really take it to the next level," said Mark Spoonauer, editor-in-chief of Laptop Magazine. "And also the building blocks of the next generation of gadgets could have this material inside that could make them super-strong but flexible—and not just smartphones but wearable gadgets like fitness trackers and smart watches could have this material."
Samsung, IBM, Nokia and SanDisk are researching possible uses of graphene. Spoonauer said it could be used in everything from condoms to car exteriors to airplanes. "The sky's the limit in terms of the possible applications of this. It could go much beyond gadgets," he said.
—By Christina Medici Scolaro