As a tennis player and fan, the word “graphene” has become somewhat familiar to me over the past few months since HEAD began incorporating it into their new racquets—including those used by Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova. Graphene is a super-thin, lightweight material composed of a single, two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms. Originally discovered in 2004, this lightweight “super material” has a breaking strength far greater than steel. HEAD has leveraged the extraordinary attributes of graphene to strengthen the shaft of their racquets, allowing them to redistribute weight to more critical areas of the racquet. The end result is racquets with greater stability and power than previous models.
Although tennis players seem to be enjoying the new graphene-enhanced racquets, the material’s application isn’t just limited to the tennis world. This super material seems to have myriad real-world uses and now there might be one more. Researchers at Georgia Tech’s broadband wireless networking laboratory have created plans for a wireless antenna made from graphene that could potentially revolutionize the speed of wireless networks. Georgia Tech’s researchers estimate that the graphene antenna could allow wireless speeds of up to a terabit per second within a range of about one meter—which translates into an ability to download about ten HD movies within a one second window. Even higher speeds (up to 100 terabits per second) might be possible at shorter ranges.
The group at Georgia Tech is hoping to have a prototype antenna within a year, but experts emphasize that there are still technical hurdles that need to be conquered before the technology can be fully completed. It’s definitely exciting news, but for now, the best place to enjoy graphene is still the tennis court.