Known predominantly for its production of mobile phones and other portable devices, Nokia will now work to develop graphene - the world's hardest material. The Finnish communications company announced Thursday their receipt of a $1.35 billion grant from the European Union that will allow research to be made into the new 2D crystal substance that is 300 times stronger than steel.
Nokia plans on investing the next ten years into research and development of graphene, which, in addition to its unique durability, is also the thinnest and lightest material known to man. With a remarkable thickness of only one atom, graphene is bendable, transparent, and a far better conductor than copper, as reported by CNET's Debra Kerr.
Practical applications for the carbon-based honeycomb structure include those that would allow for smaller and faster electronic devices, as well as what researchers working on graphene at Rice University have referred to as "chemical sensors." Such sensors change chemical data into analytically useful signals.
"We have come to identify multiple areas where this material can be applied in modern computing environments," said Nokia CTO Henry Tirri in a statement made on the company's official blog.
Continuing that Nokia is "proud to be involved in this project" and has "deep roots in this field" with their having begun researching graphene in 2006, Tirri assures that "we've done some very promising work so far, but I believe the greatest innovations have yet to be discovered."
In a statement of his own, Nokia Research Leader Jani Kivioja points to the economic advantages for the entirety of Europe inherent to EU's funding of graphene research. Kivioja looks forward to the bolstering of the European job market to which this research consortium will contribute thanks to the "investment in the people" the EU has herewith made with their grant.
Nokia's Research Center - out of which Kivioja and team members work - is based in Cambridge, UK, and has been engaged in nanotechnology studies for the last seven years. Teams from Russia and Finland have supported these efforts with the result of what Tapani Ryhänen, Head of the Sensor and Material Technologies Laboratory at Nokia, hopes will "bring immediate impact to our products over the coming years in some way or another."
From 1998 to 2012, Nokia produced more mobile phones than its competitors, despite experiencing a recent decline in market shares.