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the mechanical properties of graphene and

related materials. The nanomechanics and

materials laboratory, led by Professor Tobin

Filleter, utilises atomic force microscopy

techniques to probe the strength and wear

resistance of graphene and related thin

materials. Together with Professor Yu Sun, who

leads the advanced micro and nanosystems

lab at the same university, it has also

developed

in situ

electron microscopy devices

to measure the tensile stress-strain behaviour

and directly visualise fracture.

At Toronto, our computational materials

engineering lab has combined with these two

groups to take our individual graphene research

to the next level. Our collaborative work has

shown that the intrinsic strength of monolayer

graphene oxide is approximately 50% of the 2D

intrinsic strength of pristine graphene; it was

well supported by our first principles theoretical

calculations. This is a promising result

considering that graphene oxide can be

manufactured at much lower cost from bulk

graphite and has excellent dispersibility in many

solvents, permitting low cost engineering

applications. Such synergistic collaboration of

experimental and computational groups can

accelerate the discovery and design of

innovative novel materials and devices.

Energy and nanoelectronics

Excellent research is being conducted in

Canadian universities on graphene and related

materials for sustainable energy applications.

Research groups led by Professor Andy

(Xueliang) Sun at the University of Western

Ontario and Professor Aiping Yu at the

University of Waterloo, Ontario, have

developed graphene-based devices for Li-ion

battery and supercapacitor applications.

Meanwhile, at the University of Toronto,

Professor Keryn Lian’s laboratory has focused

on alternative carbon nanomaterials for

developing high performance supercapacitors,

IN

1947, Professor P RWallace of McGill University, Montréal,

Canada, wrote a seminal paper on the electronic band

structure of graphite. Fast forward 68 years, and a

monolayer of this material, popularly known as graphene, forms the

trendiest material system for materials science research at the

international level.

Graphene is no more an overhyped material – not only will it live up

to its promises, but it has a real potential to provide important

applications in the electronics, sustainable energy, healthcare,

structural and sports sectors. Since the isolation of graphene, multiple

2D materials have been synthesised experimentally. Many more have

been theorised, with intriguing chemical, electronic, and mechanical

properties that expand the boundaries of existing structure-property

space. It is also now possible to create heterostructures of 2D

materials to suit a wider array of applications. In this article, we

provide an academic’s perspective on the opportunities and

challenges of graphene-related research in Canada.

Mechanical properties

Pristine graphene has a tensile strength of 130 gigapascals, about 200

times that of steel. Consequently, it has promising applications as a

strengthening constituent in polymer nanocomposites for wear-resistant

coatings and bulletproof armours. Exciting developments have taken

place at the University of Toronto, Ontario, in the past three years on

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

34

S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : M AT E R I A L S

Canada’s graphene story

The University of Toronto’s

Professor Chandra Veer Singh

provides a detailed

look into Canada’s investment in graphene, highlighting the need for greater

funding and international collaboration

Professor Chandra

Veer Singh

In Canada, the

University of Toronto is

dedicating particular

efforts to graphene

and computational

modelling research