Telecommunications is a rapidly advancing technology. Keeping it up to speed, literally and figuratively, requires enormous resources and time. What if there were a way to expedite the process? Soon, this may be a reality, thanks to graphene.

The wonder material was officially discovered in 2004 by two researchers at the University of Manchester, which won them a Nobel prize. The material is formed of a single layer of carbon atoms in a hexagon shape. It is stronger than steel and thinner than a human hair, giving it superpower qualities that could replace many materials we currently use in daily life. It has already begun to impact farming, photodetection, water purification, solar panels, medical diagnostics, and more. For telecommunications, graphene may be able to replace the fiber-optic cable, speeding up communications and making them more reliable in the long term. How can this be done? By combining graphene with 5G.

5G performance has the capability for extremely high amounts of data, speed, and connectivity across devices. All the while, it reduces energy use, costs, and delays. Since the introduction of the mobile phone, there have been many iterations of performance systems. 2G, 3G, and 4G were once revolutionary for wireless communication. Now, 5G is changing the game altogether. 5G can be put to use in everything from virtual and augmented reality for live broadcasting, automotive advancements, manufacturing, healthcare, artificial intelligence, and smart cities, to name a few.

Communications of the future may be faster and easier than ever, as long as 5G works seamlessly, and graphene in its monolayer form can give 5G what it needs. Research is underway to see how graphene’s high conductivity and flexible monolayer can support the development of 5G wireless technology.

In 2017, a team at Sweden’s Chalmers University made a breakthrough in this research. When they combined terahertz detection with flexible graphene, a 5G mobile device controlled the Internet of Things (IoT). With progress like this, the future of electronic and optoelectronic technologies is bright thanks to the combination of graphene and 5G.

It is no wonder that mobile companies are perking up at the prospect of combining graphene with 5G. It can speed up their transmission of data much more efficiently than silicon. At some point, if things keep going in the direction they are, graphene will be cheaper than silicon too.

While the promise of graphene and 5G is heartening, there is a long way to go before it is mainstream in the manufacturing world. Graphene’s newness in the technology world makes more testing a necessity. Industry leaders are skeptical as to when it will make its official debut, but the need for 5G makes graphene’s potential more exciting than ever. With the right resources and work, it’s only a matter of time before we can benefit from graphene’s incorporation into 5G.