​Fenwick patent attorney Paul Smith spoke with Fortune about the hurdles that must be surmounted before graphene — a newer material praised by researchers for its exceptional strength, conductivity and flexibility — can be used as a replacement for silicon in semiconductors.

"Many of the challenges presented by graphene are common to most new materials," Smith toldFortune. "The trick is figuring out how to synthesize graphene in a way that first is manufacturable beyond lab scale; second, preserves the desirable properties of the material; and third, can be integrated into a product or technology."

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