Graphene May be The Key to Meeting All Future Bandwidth Demands

Graphene is being embraced as an effective option for supporting the world's drastically rising bandwidth demands that will include 5G, IoT and Industry 4.0.
Mario L. Major

The projected urbanization increase anticipated throughout the world will bring with it a unique set of challenges, some easier than others to address.


For this reason, government and civil society have been engaging in a number of forward-looking initiatives which (1) identify challenges, and (2) put forward creative strategies. With everything from employing fleets of drones to carry out anti-deforestation measures to examining carbon dioxide extraction methods, a strong foundation is being put in place.

Part of this process involves taking a critical look at which resources will serve either a new purpose or an even greater purpose than before in the future. Researchers from the Graphene Flagship, the largest research initiative produced by the European Union (EU), are looking at the various ways in which the semimetal graphene can be used to accommodate the bandwidth communications challenges of fully developing 5G capabilities and other future networks which even exceed its reach.

According to the organization, graphene boasts:

--> a relatively lower power consumption

--> a potential to encompass and even surpass the needs of both Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IOT)

--> greater support for the expanding photonic communication infrastructure, which according to the researchers, will require 10-100 times for energy-efficient cells than those currently supporting 4G.

The team identified the three main areas in the telecommunication network as access, aggregation and core, concluding that graphene offers a viable means of addressing them all. 

The rapid emergence of graphene

Graphene offers a truly multifaceted range of applications which include everything from the processing and production of 2D crystals to assistance with DNA sequencing. The job of the researchers engaged in work with the Flagship is to develop knowledge that can be passed along to engineers working in various industries. 

Antonio D'Errico from Graphene Flagship partner Ericsson Research explained how "graphene for photonics has the potential to change the perspective of information and communications technology in a disruptive way," adding optimistically that the researchers work "explains how to enable new feature rich optical networks." He concluded: "I am pleased to say that this fundamental information is now available to anyone interested around the globe."

Wolfgang Templ, Department Head of Transceiver Research at Nokia Bell Labs in Germany, a partner of the Flagship, explained in even further detail about why the goal of the researcher is so essential in developing graphene technologies in the future. 

"Collaboration between industry and academia is key for explorative work towards entirely new component technology. Research in this phase bears significant risks, so it is important that academic research and industry research labs join the brightest minds to solve the fundamental problems. Industry can give perspective on the relevant research questions for potential in future systems."

He also feels that this will enable more dynamic and efficient research and development efforts (R&D). "Thanks to a mutual exchange of information we can then mature the technology and consider all the requirements for a future industrialization and mass production of graphene-based components," Templ added.

Details about the optoelectronic application of graphene appear in a paper, titled "Graphene-based integrated photonics for next-generation datacom and telecom", which was published October 1st in the Nature Reviews Materials journal. 

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