Graphene Flagship says material’s potential will exceed demands of future Internet

Created October 19, 2018
Applications and Research

European research and development group the Graphene Flagship says the recently discovered material – a crystalline form of carbon with two-dimensional properties – has “unique potential to exceed bandwidth demands of future telecommunications”.

Often described as a “wonder material” due to its unusual structural and conductive properties, graphene was discovered in 2003 by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at The University of Manchester, UK. New applications are published on a regular basis and it is often linked with novel types of communications devices and techniques.

The Flagship’s new paper, published in the journal Nature, analyses the possibilities of graphene in the emerging Internet of Everything market. Nokia and Bell Labs researchers have contributed to this vision for the future of graphene photonic integration, with Nokia being a Graphene Flagship partner.

Researchers and companies across Europe have demonstrated the ultra-wide bandwidth communications and low power consumption that graphene-integrated devices possess.

The Flagship says that these properties “will radically change the way that data is transmitted across the optical communications system. Graphene-integrated devices may become the key element of the future in IoT, the evolution of 5G and Industry 4.0.”

So how will this mysterious material do all of this? The paper explains: “Graphene enables ultra-wide bandwidth communications coupled with low power consumption, with potential to surpass the needs of 5G, IoT and Industry 4.0.”

Ultra-wide bandwidth

Researchers within the Graphene Flagship project have shown that integrated graphene-based photonic devices offer a unique solution for the next generation of optical communications. The properties of graphene enable ultra-wide bandwidth communications coupled with low power consumption, which will “radically change the way data is transmitted across the optical communications systems,” says the Flagship.

As conventional semiconductor technologies are approaching their physical limitations we need to explore entirely new technologies to realise our most ambitious visions of a future networked global society,” explains Wolfgang Templ, Department Head of Transceiver Research at Nokia Bell Labs in Germany, which is a Graphene Flagship partner.

“Graphene promises a significant step in performance of key components for optical and radio communications beyond the performance limits of today’s conventional semiconductor-based component technologies.”

Paola Galli, Nokia IP and Optical networks Member of Technical Staff, agrees: “Graphene photonics offer a combination of advantages to become the game changer. We need to explore new materials to go beyond the limits of current technologies and meet the capacity needs of future networks.”

The Graphene Flagship presents a vision for the future of graphene-based integrated photonics, and provides strategies for improving power consumption, manufacturability and wafer-scale integration. With this new publication, the Graphene Flagship partners also provide a roadmap for graphene-based photonics devices surpassing the technological requirement for the evolution of datacom and telecom markets driven by 5G, IoT, and the Industry 4.0.

“Graphene integrated in a photonic circuit is a low cost, scalable technology that can operate fibre links at a very high data rates,” said Marco Romagnoli, from Graphene Flagship partner CNIT, the National Interuniversity Consortium for Telecommunications in Italy.

Antonio D’Errico from Graphene Flagship partner Ericsson Research explains how “graphene for photonics has the potential to change the perspective of information and communications technology in a disruptive way.”

“This paper published on Nature Reviews Materials explains how to enable new feature rich optical networks. I am pleased to say that this fundamental information is now available to anyone interested around the globe,” he adds.

This industrial and academic partnership, comprising companies and research centres in five different European countries, has developed a compelling vision for the future of graphene photonic integration. The team involves researchers from CNIT, Ericsson, IMEC, Nokia, Nokia Bell Labs, AMO, ICFO and the University of Cambridge. These collaborations are at the heart of the Graphene Flagship, set up by the European Commission to support the commercialisation of graphene and related materials until 2023.

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This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.