£21.5m fund to support graphene research

George Osborne announced £21.5m fund to support graphene research

George Osborne announced £21.5m fund to support graphene research

The Chancellor George Osborne declared additional financial backing to work out commercial uses for the “super-material” graphene. £21.5 investment funds will be granted to some of U.K. universities as they presented the most promising projects for development of the Nobel Prize-winning material.

Investment in graphene

On the 27th of December, the Chancellor George Osborne is due to disclose niceties of the £21.5 investment in popularizing and commercializing graphene which is expected to find practical uses in many businesses in the near future. Scientists have been researching ways of using graphene in sectors ranging from electronics and green energy to bioscience and mobile devices.

Even though the “super-material” graphene was discovered by at Manchester university in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, these days the United Kingdom is losing the race with other countries and research centers to benefit from material’s practical applications. Therefore the U.K. government decided to support universities in their efforts to find commercial uses of the “super-material” graphene.  Back in 2011, a £50 million fund was established for further development of the material, nearly £40 million of which was reserved for a research center at the University of Manchester.

The funds are being granted through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and physical sciences. An additional £12 million will come from companies such as Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Nokia and others, which are interested in practical applications of the “super-material” graphene. The 2012 fund is mainly aimed at taking the material from research labs to factories, as it was underlined by the Chancellor George Osborne .

The University of Cambridge is to be the biggest beneficiary of the announced fund as it will be granted as much as £12 million for research into “super-material” flexible electronics and optoelectronics. The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine will collect approximately £4.5 million to study how the material can be used in the aerospace industry. Also projects, which were designed at universities of Manchester, Exeter and Durham, will be granted funds.

“Super-material” graphene

The “super-material” graphene was discovered at University of Manchester by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov and not so long later it, their breakthrough was acknowledged and they won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. Graphene, which is often described as the “super-material” or “miracle material” is made of pure carbon and it is known for its strength, lightness and conductivity.

Due to its extraordinary features, many scientists believe that graphene is the material of future. Therefore it is not surprising that the U.K. government wants to invest in development of the material. Just in November, the Chancellor George Osborne had declared that the Treasury would support eight areas of technology including space industry, information technology, regenerative medicine, energy storage and advanced materials.

The Chancellor George Osborne believes that the recent investment in technology is a proof of deep interest in developing the science which might help the U.K. become a world leader not only in research but in practical and commercial uses of the latest breakthroughs such as the “super-material” graphene. But also other governments are interested in the applications of the “super-material,”  just to mention that South Korea will invest as much as $300 million in graphene research.

Aubrey Chang
Aubrey Chang, Associate Editor Industry Leaders Magazine (www.industryleadersmagazine.com)

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