Research into the ‘super material’ graphene, a derivative of graphite, that could revolutionise the electronic manufacturing industry, will be led by a professor at Queen Mary, University of London after he joins the board of the new Cambridge Graphene Centre.
Professor Yang Hao from the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at Queen Mary, an expert in wireless sensor technology, will study how to harness the potential of graphene - a one-atom thick layer of graphite with remarkable, record breaking properties.
It is hoped the work might lead to numerous new devices and applications, which could then be commercialised by numerous industries ranging from healthcare to electronics and help to boost economic growth.
Professor Hao will lead the Centre’s research activities targeting connectivity, with the ultimate vision of creating an “Internet of things”. The research will attempt to integrate graphene into networked devices, such as household objects or vehicles, to allow them to communicate with each other through a self-configuring wireless network.
He commented: “If correctly exploited, graphene could present us with tremendous new opportunities in improving communication technology. This can only be achieved through dedicated research, which the Centre and its academics involved will be well-placed to provide. It’s a huge honour to be involved from the outset and I look forward to working with the University of Cambridge.”
The Cambridge Graphene Centre will start its activities on 1 Feb 2013, with a dedicated state-of-the art shared facility (due to open at the end of the year), which any scientist researching graphene will have the opportunity to use. Its will focus on taking graphene from a state of raw potential to a point where it can revolutionise flexible, wearable and transparent electronics. It will target the manufacture of graphene films, inks, dispersions and composites on an industrial scale, and applications in the areas of flexible electronics, energy, and connectivity.
Professor Andrea Ferrari, who will be the Centre’s Director, said: “We are now in the second phase of graphene research, following the award of the Nobel Prize to Geim and Novoselov. That means we are targeting applications and manufacturing processes, and broadening research to other two-dimensional materials and hybrid systems.”
“The integration of these new materials could bring a new dimension to future technologies, creating faster, thinner, stronger, more flexible broadband devices.”
Professor Bill Milne, who will be part of the Centre’s management group, said: “Graphene has amazing fundamental properties but at the moment we cannot produce it in a perfect form over large areas. Our first aim is to look at ways of making graphene that ensure it is still useful at the end of the process. We have to find modes of production that are consistently effective – and there is still a lot of work to be done in this respect.”
Professor Clare Grey, from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry, will lead the activities targeting the use of graphene in super-capacitors and batteries for energy storage. The research could, ultimately, provide a more effective energy supply for parts of the world which are currently “off-grid”, as well as boosting the energy storage possibilities of personal devices such as MP3 players and mobile phones.
The Centre’s activities will be funded by a Government grant worth over £12m, awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and complemented by strong industrial support, worth an additional £13m, from over 20 partners, including Nokia, Dyson, Plastic Logic, Philips and BaE systems.
Further details can be found at: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/ourportfolio/researchareas/Pages/graphene.aspx
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