Graphene appointed an EU Future Emerging Technology flagship

Story supplied by LU Press Office

Atomic force microscope image of a graphene molecule - only one atom thick but containing many billions of carbon atoms (image: University of Manchester) Atomic force microscope image of a graphene molecule - only one atom thick but containing many billions of carbon atoms (image: University of Manchester)

The European Commission has chosen Graphene as one of Europe's first 10-year, £1,000m Future Emerging Technologies flagships - a project that aims to take graphene and related layered materials from academic laboratories to society, revolutionize multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe.

With today's announcement Europe is launching a new form of joint, coordinated research initiative of unprecedented scale. The Graphene Flagship brings together an academic-industrial consortium aimed at a breakthrough for technological innovation. The research effort will cover the entire value chain from materials production to components and system integration, and targets a number of specific goals that exploit the unique properties of graphene.

Key applications may include fast electronic and optical devices, flexible electronics, functional lightweight components and advanced batteries. New products made possible by graphene research might include electronic paper, bendable personal communication devices and lighter and more energy efficient aeroplanes. In the longer term, graphene is expected to give rise to new computational paradigms and revolutionary medical applications such as artificial retinas.

Lancaster Physics played an important role in the preparation of this initiative. In 2010-2011, Lancaster's Vladimir Falko was among the key proposers of the Graphene Flagship idea, together with J Kinaret (Chalmers) and Nobel Prize winners A Fert (Thales) and Sir A Geim (Manchester).

In 2011-2012, together with A Ferrari and Nobel Laureate Sir K Novoselov, Falko developed the 'Graphene Science and Technology Roadmap' (summary published in Nature 490, 192 (2012)). In the unfolding Flagship, Falko will act as one of two national contacts in the UK, leading an 11-strong work-package team on 'Fundamentals of graphene, new 2D materials, and hybrid structures'. A team of Lancaster University physicists will work on modelling graphene-based devices and other novel two-dimensional materials.

From its start, in 2013, the Flagship project 'Graphene-Driven Revolutions in ICT and Beyond' will bring together 76 academic institutions (including Manchester, Cambridge, UCL, Oxford, and Lancaster in the UK) and industrial groups in 17 European countries, with an initial 30-month-budget of £54M.

This consortium, coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), will be extended with 20-30 more groups through an open call, which will further strengthen the engineering aspects of the flagship. During the initial, 30 month ramp-up phase, the Graphene Flagship will focus on the area of communications, concentrating on ICT and on the physical transport sector, and supporting applications in the fields of energy technology and sensors. The details of the Flagship expansion after the ramp-up phase are a part of the discussions on the Horizon 2020 research program of the European Union.

Flagship Coordinator Professor Jari Kinaret (Chalmers) says "Although the flagship is extremely extensive, it cannot cover all areas. For example, we don't intend to compete with Korea on graphene screens. Graphene production, however, is obviously central to our project."

Professor Falko said: "It is thrilling to see how fast research in graphene progresses. With hundreds of groups entering the worldwide race to develop graphene-based technologies, a large European project became a necessity. Our Flagship is good news for all researchers in Europe, demonstrating that the European Commission recognizes importance of research in advance materials for the European competitiveness."

Professor Mark Smith, Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University said: "It is a great achievement for Lancaster to be a key player in this Europe-wide Flagship project. The pivotal role of Lancaster under Prof. Falko's leadership alongside partner universities, in what could be a key society changing technology in Graphene, adds to our longstanding reputation for world class physics research."

Mon 28 January 2013