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For massive companies like Apple and Samsung, continued success often depends on pioneering new technologies and staying ahead of the curve. Graphene, an ultra-thin and ultra-strong arrangement of carbon atoms is one of the front runners for the category of "next big thing" in tech. A graphene sheet is as thin as a single atom and still retains its electrically conductive and heat dissipating properties, making it a fantastic material for the ever-slimmer world of mobile gadgets.

When it comes to graphene, Samsung has been snatching up patents like crazy, filing over 400 (with some duplicates between regions) with mentions of graphene, worldwide. The filings range from manufacturing processes to methods of applying graphene on different surfaces, but the most interesting patents relate to touchscreens (an image from one touchscreen filing is shown below). If the future of smart devices include flexible screens, graphene would be a fantastic material for such an application, as it's bendable, conductive, and extremely durable.

Apple thus far has filed exactly two patents mentioning graphene -- one for a graphene heat dissipation system and one for a "graphene current collector." That's it.

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