Posted: August 9, 2010

Irish nanotechnology researcher receives major European research grant to develop graphene nanomaterials

(Nanowerk News) Professor Jonathan Coleman, Professor of Physics, Trinity College Dublin has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starter Grant of €1.5 million. He is one of Irelands' leading nanoscientists and is a Principal Investigator at CRANN, the TCD and UCC based nanoscience research institute.
The awards are given to only 300 top scientists across Europe, less than 10% of those who apply. The awards recognise scientists who are working on research with major potential so that they will have the funding and encouragement to develop cutting edge science.
Professor John Donegan, Head of the School of Physics commented, "Johnny Coleman is a scientist of great international repute. His publication record is extraordinary and he is a gifted communicator. The School is rightly proud of his achieving the ERC award and we fully expect great new science will arise from this research".
Professor John Boland, Director of CRANN said, "These awards are only made to Europe's top scientists and it is great recognition of the work being done by Professor Coleman and his team to develop next-generation materials. Ireland has built up its expertise in the area of nanoscience which is globally recognised, as evidenced by the increasing number of international research grants we are attracting. Ireland is beginning to take a globally recognised leadership position in Nanoscience and scientists of the calibre of Professor Coleman are critical to building our reputation."
The research grant is based on Professor Coleman's work with graphene and his team's novel method of being able to split graphite (millions of graphene sheets stuck tightly together) down into individual layers of graphene, which could be used to make stronger and lighter materials. They could be incorporated into products that uses plastic, making composites which are stronger, lighter and more environmentally friendly e.g. aircraft parts, car parts, sport and household goods.
Two of the materials that Professor Coleman is currently researching are Bismuth Telluride and Molybdenum Disulfide. Bismuth Telluride is used to generate energy from waste heat, for example from car engines or in nuclear plants. Professor Coleman's method of separating graphene using a liquid process could be applied to bismuth telluride, which could then be coated onto thin films and attached to the side of a car to capture the lost heat energy and convert it into usable electrical energy.
Molybolenum disulfide is currently being evaluated for use in batteries. However production of this is currently time consuming and complicated. Using the methods developed by Professor Coleman's group, one would be able to produce and apply the films in a simpler and faster way, allowing industrialisation of the process.
Source: Trinity College Dublin