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Posted: Feb 28, 2012
EPSRC issues Graphene Engineering call
(Nanowerk News) The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is issuing a call for proposals in graphene engineering research. The aim of the call, where there will be up to £20 million of funding available, is to focus research on manufacturing processes and technologies linked to graphene in order to accelerate the development and generation of novel devices, applications technologies and systems.
Dave Delpy, Chief Executive of the EPSRC said, "This call is hugely exciting. There is an increasing awareness among the global research community of the opportunities and the need to exploit and commercialise technology based on graphene and related nanomaterials. With a firm foundation of graphene science, the UK is in a prime position to build on its strength in this field to lead the commercialisation of this material."
Graphene is the strongest, thinnest material ever measured. Among its incredible qualities, graphene is an excellent electrical conductor which could lead to dramatically faster electronic devices, including super-fast mobile phones and computers. Other potential uses include flexible touch screens, sensors and in composite materials.
In 2010 the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to UK researchers Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester, who demonstrated graphene in 2004. EPSRC has funded their work for over a decade.
The call is divided into two parts: research programmes and equipment bids. EPSRC is committing £10 million to the call, with up to £10 million more available by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to fund the capital equipment as part of either research programmes or for equipment-only bids.
Part of graphene's appeal is that it is highly versatile. It is a crystal, a solid, a surface and a molecule and reflects the characteristics of all of these. It is the stiffest known material; it is optically transparent; it can stretch up to 20 times its length and appears to be the most impermeable material ever discovered. It is also an extremely good electrical conductor (can conduct electricity faster and with more precision than any other material) and has superb thermal conductivity (outperforming diamond).
By mixing graphene with other substances, such as plastics, scientists believe that they can make stronger, electrically conductive, heat resistant materials, which could be used to create strong, lightweight materials that could potentially be applied to a range of applications.
Proposals for research programmes should range between £1.5 million and £3 million and should seek to understand how to commercialise and enhance the 'manufacturability' of graphene as the material of choice. Programmes should have an emphasis on applications, strongly align with industry needs and foster an environment of collaboration across the UK. The programmes of research should also focus on developing people to stimulate the future sustainability of UK graphene engineering research and future commercialisation opportunities across a variety of sectors.
Proposals for equipment are to allow groups with existing capability in graphene research to help researchers advance the commercialisation of graphene and improve the emphasis on applications.
In October 2011 Chancellor George Osborne pledged a £50 million investment to establish the UK as a graphene research and technology 'hub' with the aim to capture its commercial benefits.
Part of the Government's investment is contributing to the funding of this call.
About Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.