|Samsung potentially has a head-start in next-gen mobile technology, thanks to its development of a new way of synthesizing graphene.|
(CNN) -- No one ever expected the humble pencil to kickstart a revolution. But, by peeling apart pencil graphite into atom-thick layers using regular adhesive tape, two Russian-born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, earned a Nobel Prize in 2010. With it, they sparked the beginnings of a material that could change the world.
It is no exaggeration to say that graphene, the substance that the two scientists -- along with others -- discovered in 2004, is a miracle material. Now a Korean research lab may have made the leap from theoretical to practical with the development of a new way to synthesize it, potentially on a commercial scale.
The substance, "the perfect atomic lattice," boasts a number of hugely attractive properties, meaning it has the potential to be used in myriad industries, and for a huge range of purposes.
As well as being super-strong -- 20 times stronger than diamond, 200 stronger than steel and six times lighter -- it is also remarkably conductive, both electrically and thermally.
Graphene: The strongest material on earth
If that wasn't enough, it is also almost perfectly transparent, impermeable to gas, and its properties are, scientists say, easily alterable.
Graphene is one form -- an allotrope -- of carbon, the basis of all life on earth. More familiar carbon allotropes include diamonds and graphite. What makes it unique is its thinness -- at one atom thick it is as good as two-dimensional. Its flexibility means that it could potentially be used for flexible or wearable devices.
"Graphene has a lot of potential, especially in terms of industrial applications for optical and electronic devices," says Ping Sheng, a Professor of Nanoscience at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
"The caveat is really in the quality of the graphene that can be produced on a large scale ... If they can overcome that then it will be a big breakthrough."
CNN: 'Miracle material' graphene one step closer to commercial use, Euan McKirdy