HOW DOES THE FASTEST COMPUTER IN THE WORLD ORIGINATE FROM A PENCIL? If you strip off the top layer of carbon atoms from a pencil lead (graphite), you end up with graphene. This material conducts electricity and heat better than copper, and it’s considerably thinner (0.3 nanometers). If it were possible to make a transistor (see above)— a component that controls the voltage in electrical appliances— out of graphene, our communication technology could be revolutionized. And we’re actually not too far from this.
In 2012, researchers at the University of California, Riverside used graphene transistors to build a computer with a computing speed of 427 gigahertz— about 200 times faster than a modern laptop. The technology could one day be ready for market. Another possible application of graphene is the construction of new highperformance batteries— with a storage capacity that exceeds that of conventional batteries by a factor of 10— which can be recharged in a matter of minutes. This technology could prove especially useful in the manufacture of electric cars.