UK invests $120M on graphene
A race is on the produce the first commercial products based on graphene, the two-dimensional form of crystalline carbon that has tremendous strength and much higher electron mobility than silicon. And the U.K. government is keen to capitalize on advantages the country enjoys as hosts to pioneering research into graphene and try and build up engineering and manufacturing expertise in the wonder material.
The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2012 was awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for their "groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene." The scientists are now both professors at the University of Manchester.
Graphene is the strongest and thinnest material ever measured, and also the world's most conductive material. It is expected to have a disruptive effect in many areas of electronics including semiconductors, flexible touch screens, sensors, and in composite materials.
The University of Manchester has been confirmed as the single supplier invited to submit a proposal for funding a new national institute worth around $71.17 million (£45 million), around $60 million (£38 million) of which will be provided by the U.K. government. This world-class shared facility for graphene research and commercialization activities will be accessible by both researchers and business and although based at Manchester, will be a resource for research groups and businesses across the U.K. and open to broader collaboration.
An additional $19 million (£12 million) is available from the U.K. government to invest in research equipment related to graphene. An additional ($16 million (£10 million) of investment is available from budgets to support graphene engineering research, and accelerate the generation of novel devices, technologies and systems. It will also strengthen the U.K.'s position in relation to European initiatives with potential for further financial leverage.
A further $16 million (£10 million) has been set aside to fund a separate graphene innovation center for which additional funding is expected to come from industry. The center is intended to help accelerate the development, application and exploitation of new graphene technologies.
South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is one company that is already collaborating with the University of Manchester on the application of graphene technology. Samsung is reportedly working on flexible displays that utilize the material.
"With a Nobel Prize and hundreds of published papers under their belts, scientists in the U.K. have already demonstrated that we have real strengths in this area. The graphene hub will build on this by taking this research through to commercial success," said David Willetts, the U.K. government minister for universities and science, in a statement.