Changing our material future, layer by layer
Story supplied by LU Press Office
A proposal involving researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Cambridge and Lancaster, has been awarded 13.4 million Euros (around £11m) to form a "Synergy Group" by the European Research Council (ERC).
It will aim to utilise two-dimensional substances, such as wonder material graphene, to engineer new types of materials which are just a few atoms thick, but nevertheless have the power to revolutionise the future development of devices such as solar cells, and flexible and transparent electronics.
Starting with one atom-thick substances which possess remarkable properties, the group will focus on ways in which they can be layered up to form 'heterostructures'. These heterostructures will still be just a few atoms thick, but will combine the properties of the different two-dimensional materials which comprise them, effectively enabling developers to embed the functions of a device into its very fabric.
For example, the research team envisage combining an atomic layer which functions as a sensor, with layers that function variously as an amplifier, transistor, or solar cell, for power generation. The resulting material, still just a few atomic layers in thickness, would be capable of running a whole circuit.
The award - part of ERC's first competition for Synergy Grants - will bring together the talents of the Nobel Prize-winner, Professor Kostya Novoselov at Manchester, Professor Andrea Ferrari at Cambridge, and Professor Vladimir Falko at Lancaster.
The team will be part of the UK's Graphene Global Research and Technology Hub, including the £61m National Graphene Institute, which is being developed at The University of Manchester to continue its world-leading and collaborative work in the field.
Widely regarded as a wonder material on account of its numerous capabilities, graphene is a two-dimensional structure consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure. It was first isolated by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov at The University of Manchester in 2004.
It is the thinnest material in the world and yet also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat.
The Synergy Group will aim to combine these properties with those of other, two-dimensional materials for the sake of creating an amazing range of applications and devices, among them new types of transistors, solar cells and other optoelectronic components.
Professor Falko said: "Our project is challenging, both at the technical and conceptual level. We aim to extend science and technology of atomically thin films into materials far beyond graphene, where properties of atomically thin crystals are not known, yet."
"This project offers excellent opportunities for the early career researchers, who, thanks to the ERC, will be able to join our team - theorists, experimentalist and engineers - to enjoy surprises and make discoveries."
Thu 20 December 2012
Lancaster University physicists have welcomed the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert.
Story supplied by LU Press Office
Tue 08 October 2013
The Space Plasma Environment and Radio Science (SPEARS) group in Physics ran the biennial EISCAT radar symposium on campus 12-16 August 2013.
Thu 22 August 2013
A Lancaster University physics graduate has been selected for the European Space Agency's Young Graduate Trainee Programme.
Mon 12 August 2013
Professor Henning Schomerus is quoted in The Guardian (26 July) on writing a personal statement for admissions.
Many physics undergrad hopefuls mention a lot of the same books, or say they read the New Scientist, says Professor Henning Schomerus, physics admissions tutor at Lancaster University. "This wouldn't put me off, but I would probably more or less ignore it," he says. If you want to talk about a journal you read, pick out an article and discuss why it interests you.
Be specific. If The Big Bang Theory sparked your interest in physics, explain why. Schomerus, for instance, likes the episode where Sheldon takes a job as an unpaid waiter to try to discover how electrons move through graphene - it's an area he's done research in.
"Make the statement truly personal," he says.
Fri 26 July 2013