Scientists in the UK have demonstrated that next-generation wonder-material graphene could be used to provide secure wireless connections and improve the efficiency of communication devices.

Until now, graphene’s ability to absorb electromagnetic radiation – energy from across the radio frequency spectrum – was not known.

However, a team from Queen Mary University of London and the newly-established Cambridge Graphene Centre published findings in the journal Scientific Reports today detailing how the one-atom thick material increased the absorption of electromagnetic energy by 90 per cent at a wide bandwidth.

The findings were based on experiments in which graphene successfully absorbed signals from a millimetre wave source after it was placed next to a metal plate and the mineral quartz. 

“The transparent material could be added as a coating to car windows or buildings to stop radio waves from travelling through the structure,” claimed Yang Hao, co-author of the study and professor of antennas and electromagnetics at Queen Mary. “This, in turn, could be used to improve secure wireless network environments, for example.”

The group is now developing prototypes like wireless networks, which are aimed to take the graphene from lab-based research to engineering applications.

The Cambridge Graphene Centre was opened last January to help commercialise graphene, after receiving over £12 million in government funding and backing from major companies such as Nokia, Philips, Dyson and BAE. 

IBM claimed last month that it had made a graphene breakthrough of its own by producing the "world's most advanced" graphene chip.