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January 2, 2013

Graphene Production Funded by British Chancellor George Osborne




Graphene


 Nanotech
The British Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently funded the commercialization of graphene production. Just one atom thick, the honeycomb-shaped material has several remarkable properties combining mechanical toughness with superior electrical and thermal conductivity.
Graphene, the so called super material, has been making headlines everywhere, but now it’s received a funding check of 34.7 million U.S. dollars (21.5 million Great British Pounds) for use in researching commercial purposes. The check was written by Chancellor George Osborne (Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury in the UK) as part of an effort to move graphene technology from the lab, to factory production.

graphene honeycomb

What is Graphene?

Graphene is a pure carbon based material with atoms arranged in similar honeycomb patterns to graphite, hence the name. The material is unique in that it is only one atom thick, and constructed by stacking many sheets in a crystalline type structure, giving the material incredible strength. 

Graphene was originally described, and named, in 1962 by Hanns-Peter Boehm, and has now been researched and expanded on to include a silicone type of graphene called silocene. The material was also responsible for winning Manchester University researchers Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov the Nobel Prize in 2010 for experiments with the material. 

Graphene is also incredibly light, allowing the material to be used to create anything from 3D cubes to rolls that can be implemented in building incredibly light, yet strong objects.

Flexible circuits made with Graphene

What is Graphene Used for?


Graphene can be used for a variety of applications because it is not only lightweight and resilient, it is also electrically conductive. The material has been cited for use in transistors, sensors, inert coatings, support membranes, and more. For example, graphene is electrically conductive but incredibly thin which makes it excellent for use in transistors. 

The material is able to transmit higher frequencies than the silicon transistors currently in use, but not yet feasible for mass production. Graphene gas sensors could sound an alarm at the presence of a single gas atom or molecule, or could be programmed to sound an alert at a mass presence. Graphene is also the thinnest material that scientists can make at the moment. Because it is also a carbide metal, it can be used to coat, protect, and strengthen a variety of objects. 

Resistant to ammonia and other harsh chemicals, the miracle material can be used to protect almost anything with an atom thick layer of material. Graphene companies are working on all of these industries, although research is still in the works.

Government Funding for Graphene Research


Graphene research in the UK has recently been funded by government operatives including the very recent donation by Chancellor Osborne. In fact, most of the funding for graphene research in the UK results directly from government funding, meaning that the UK has a high stake of apparently more than $50 million USD in graphene.

This is expected to be in part due to the high priority and many applications of the material. As it was technically invented in Manchester University, the pressure to complete the material and apply it to real world applications could be enormous. And while most don’t assume that scientists are in competition with one another, many of them are, and the competition for creating a useable graphene model is quite large.

The UK has also sometimes struggled to keep native scientists ‘at home’ with their research, but recent endeavors to provide more government based funding have begun, mostly as part of a program to help expand scientific study and research in the UK.

Colleges in the UK currently studying Graphene include the Manchester University, University of Cambridge, London’s Imperial College, and more with funding from the likes of Nokia, BAE Systems, Procter & Gamble, Qinetiq, Rolls-Royce, Dyson, Sharp and Philips Research, and of course the British government.

Graphene truly could be a ‘miracle material’ with literally hundreds of applications inside of computers, sensors, wires, devices, and even microscopy if applied correctly. The only current barrier is the ability to cheaply and easily produce and form graphene elements in ways that could be implemented into everyday applications.


IMAGE SOURCES  Image One showing the honeycomb structure of graphene: http://www.ornl.gov/info/press_releases/photos/PRL_ART.jpg
Image two showing a circuit built using a graphene layer 
http://graphene-tech.org/cart/images/High-Speed%20Graphene%20Circuits.jpg



By Brandy CrossSubscribe to 33rd Square

Bio: Brandy Cross is a full time freelance writer and SEO expert who specializes in tech and science at the High Tech Society. She loves tea, zombies, and all things tech.
Twitter: MissBCross
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