Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 75

encourages the creation of new devices, as well;
it can therefore be used by companies, too.
There are still some issues relating to
production, particularly in terms of quality;
presently, a lot of graphene we use for research
is done using tape. However, there has still been
progress in this area – for example, with the
introduction of liquid phase exfoliation – and
though it is not the highest quality material for
electronics, it is quite good quality and ideal for
certain applications such as coatings.
The transfer process is an especially significant
achievement when considering the processing
and manipulation of graphene to make a
new device.
We can now really do what we want with
graphene, place it where we want and place
other materials on top of it; it is also quite easy
to make heterostructures with different
crystals. We now have a flexibility that we
never had before.
How do you see the development in
regards to creating new products?
Graphene has been in circulation since 2004,
and though that is ten years, it is a very short
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
I S S U E S I X
75
G R A P H E N E R E S E A R C H
Graphene was isolated
at the University of
Manchester in 2004
© Pete Birkinshaw
time to develop a product. Other materials, for example, have taken
between 30 and 40 years before they were used in commercial products.
In the case of graphene, we have really moved fast: ten years ago we
were just a small group of people working on graphene; the focus was
on fundamental properties such as graphene’s very exotic electrons.
However, the material has really moved out from a niche and there is a
lot of interest in using graphene for energy applications and for
composites, for example, and currently there is a lot of work in progress.
At the moment, there are very few products on the market, though I know,
for instance, that there is a tennis racket that has been manufactured that
contains graphene. Ten years is a very short time, but the research is
really focused on developing applications; therefore hopefully in the next
ten years we will see more products coming to market.
To what extent do you think the UK Government and
the EU are suitably supporting new breakthroughs
in graphene?
The attention of both the UK and the EU on developing products is quite
clear, particularly due to the economic crisis, which has sparked more
interest in developing products due to their potential to help the economy
grow. Consequently, there are many schemes supporting graphene.
In the UK, there have been research calls concerning graphene
engineering. The University of Manchester has received funding for
two major projects: £3.5m of funding has been secured for the
development of graphene-based membranes, mainly for filtration and
the desalination of water, whilst £2.2m will fund the development of
batteries based on graphene.
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