SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- The country took its first step Tuesday toward commercialization of products using graphene, a move also aimed at developing dozens of global companies.

Graphene is an atom-thin sheet of carbon that can conduct electrons 100 times faster than silicon and has twice the strength of diamonds. The material can be used in various applications, including touch-screen panels and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV panels, though such an end-product has yet to be fully developed.

To this end, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Tuesday named six consortia made up of 45 companies and research institutes to develop indigenous products using graphene.

The ministry will invest 47 billion won (US$42.2 million) over the next six years to help commercialize graphene-applied products and related technologies.

"All advanced countries are currently working to set up national programs to help develop related technologies and take leadership in the global market," it said in a press release. "Our country, too, has secured a technological advantage under government leadership and is moving to take a leading position in the global market through early commercialization of such technologies."

The ministry said the new program will lead to the development of 32 technologies necessary for the commercialization of graphene-applied products that will help create 17 trillion won in annual sales and 34,000 new jobs along with 25 new global companies.

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