Graphene on the road to smart cities
How could graphene pave the way to next-generation urban life?
Digitalisation in its current form is rapidly expanding. High-tech materials such as graphene, which were once only available in laboratories, are now being used throughout cities in a variety of applications, to enable the effective deployment of smart city infrastructure.
Graphene will enable easier accessibility to renewable energy in smart cities. Researchers from the Graphene Flagship have developed hybrids of graphene and traditional solar cells, which are at least four times cheaper to manufacture than traditional silicone-based solar cells. Graphene-solar cells are set to be used in new locations — such as built into all surfaces of a building's facade.
Security will also be a lot tighter in smart cities. With the current advancements in facial recognition and AI, grainy CCTV images will soon be a thing of the past. Antennae enabled by graphene such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, will soon make current, insecure options like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, obsolete. These could be used in a variety of ways; retinal scans to pay for items in shops, proximity sensors that take a picture of intruders, drones to analyse faces and track offenders — the possibilities are endless.
With the uprising of the internet of things, industry 4.0 and applications for new materials like graphene, it is surprising to think that these technologies are just years away from being implemented in our cities and towns. Already, many of these products are scientifically and technically ready to be mass manufactured, for both industrial and commercial use.