The wonder material could lead to a major breakthrough in telecommunications – dramatically accelerate internet speeds by up to a hundred times, according to new research by scientists in the University of Bath‘s Department of Physics.

Artistic representation of graphene. Source.

Artistic representation of graphene. Source.

According to their research, which was published in Physical Review Letters, an incredibly short optical response rate can be obtained using graphene instead of conventional materials. Every day, huge amounts of data are sent and processed through optoelectronic devices such as optical fibres, photodetectors and lasers.

Information is sent through photons working at infrared wavelength, and then converted into a series of light pulses; on average, today’s optical devices switches respond at rate of a few picoseconds – about a trillionth of a second – very fast! But is we were to use graphene, that response would be even shorted, at one hundred femtoseconds – almost 100 times faster.

Speaking on this discovery, lead author Dr Enrico Da Como said:

“We’ve seen an ultrafast optical response rate, using ‘few-layer graphene’, which has exciting applications for the development of high speed optoelectronic components based on graphene. This fast response is in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, where many applications in telecommunications, security and also medicine are currently developing and affecting our society.”

Already dubbed a wonder material, graphene is praised for its sturdiness, lightness, electromagnetic properties, and many more. It has been used to develop a light sensor 1000 times more sensitive than current options, some awesome ear buds, it can be magnetically turned on and off – graphene is the stuff of the future, today.

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Co-Director of the Centre for Graphene Science at Bath, Professor Simon Bending added:

“The more we find out about graphene the more remarkable its properties seem to be. This research shows that it also has unique optical properties which could find important new applications.”

Of course, one could argue that optical speed is not the only bottleneck when it comes to the internet – but it’s definitely a huge step forward.

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