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Atom-sized, bendable graphene touchscreen tech seen as potential key for future Apple devices

Rigid glass touchscreens may give way to bendable, foldable portable displays in the future, thanks to utilizing graphene — an advanced technology that has generated interest from Apple, Samsung and others.


A sheet of rippling graphene, via university of Texas at Austin.


A pair of reports in the last week have highlighted graphene as a material with the potential to revolutionize the technology industry. While graphene could power semiconductors and advanced circuitry decades in the future as technology improves, the most immediate implementation would be touchscreens.

Michael Patterson, CEO of Graphene Frontiers, said in an interview with Fortune that graphene in sheet or film form has "incredible potential for electronics" that will take time to develop. But in the short-term, he believes graphene could be used for basic touchscreens in the next six to 12 months.

In a separate piece, Bloomberg went a few steps further, and suggested that graphene could be used to create flexible displays for portable devices. Author Jungah Lee noted that Apple specifically mentions the use of graphene in at least two patent applications, while its chief rival Samsung has 38 patents and at least 17 applications that make note of using graphene.


Graphene device concept, via Inmesol.


The report suggested that graphene could be a key technology if Apple or some other company were to develop "bendable smartwatches or tablets that fold up into smartphones."

In sheet form, graphene is just one atom thick and is made of pure carbon. It's an excellent conductor of electricity and is especially strong for its light weight, estimated at 100 times more durable than steel.

In addition to being strong and conductive, it's also flexible and transparent. That's why the material could be "ideal for bendable touchscreen displays," according to Bloomberg.