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storage, and valuable support to the Canadian researchers, mainly

through the resource allocation grants.

In another case, we have shown that the edges of another 2D

material, MoS

2

monolayer, are highly reactive for photocatalysis for

purposes of water splitting for hydrogen production. The United States

has led the way by injecting $250m (~€222m) of funding and

resources through the Materials Genome Initiative, which has the aim

“to discover, manufacture, and deploy advanced materials twice as

fast, at a fraction of the cost”. Canada, a past manufacturing hub,

especially the province of Ontario, needs such a concentrated push

to rediscover its past competitiveness.

Ongoing challenges

Overall, the growth of graphene research in Canada is more of a ‘natural’

outcome, rather than ‘designed’ growth. Unlike the UK, other European

countries, China and the United States, the foremost reason for this is

that there is no dedicated funding initiative from the Government of

Canada as of yet that is solely focused on graphene. Invariably, graphene

research forms just part of ongoing research programmes; hence, there

is an urgent need for the Natural Science and Engineering Research

Council of Canada and other funding agencies to fill this gap with

financial support for this extremely important research field.

A significant quantity of the research cited above has been possible due

to important infrastructural funding through the Canada Foundation for

Innovation, in co-ordination with provincial agency funds such as the

Ontario Research Fund. These funds allow researchers to build state-of-

the-art experimental facilities such as the recently unveiled Ontario

Centre for the Characterization of Advanced Materials at the University

of Toronto. This centre will allow the study of forces at the atomic level,

which will be the key to developing innovative new materials. The centre,

co-led by Professor Charles Mims and Professor Doug Perovic, houses

a collection of cutting-edge analytical instruments for surface and

structural studies that are arguably the best in Canada.

Overall, infrastructural funding in Canada can be rated as ‘good’. Yet

ongoing support for running this infrastructure in the form of funding for

long term technicians and research associates for user facilities is poor.

There are no programmes to fund these ongoing technical support

needs, and there are also limited opportunities for jobs for highly skilled

and Professor Hani Naguib’s group has

developed nanocomposites with graphene

nanoplatelets for multifunctional applications.

At the same university, a multidisciplinary

‘Solar Fuels’ team, led by Professor G A Ozin,

has been assembled to discover and develop

novel nanostructured catalysts for converting

carbon dioxide into useful chemicals such as

methanol using sunlight.

In the field of nanoelectronics, the research

groups led by Professor Thomas Szkopek at

McGill University, and Professor Joshua Folk

and Professor Peyman Servati at the University

of British Columbia, are exploiting 2D materials

to create tuneable electronic devices. Not cited

here are groups working on healthcare, but for

sure the number of research groups focusing

their efforts on these material systems is

growing quickly. Within a few years, it is

anticipated that Canada will be an important

player in this research field.

Computational modelling

The traditional materials design process is

based on extensive laboratory testing, which

is time-consuming and expensive. For

understanding the fundamental structure-

property relationships in nanomaterials,

computer-assisted modelling is proving to be

a valuable scientific tool as it allows atomic

scale understanding with high precision,

without conducting very expensive and time-

consuming experimental testing.

In addition to the research cited above, accurate

atomistic simulations conducted by our lab at

the University of Toronto have shown that the

strength of a polycrystalline graphene sheet is

highly dependent on the grain character,

temperature and loading rate, providing a

reasonable explanation of the large

experimental scatter reported by other

researchers. We have also shown that it is

theoretically possible to store more than

7.0wt% hydrogen on the graphene’s surface

by careful defect engineering, briefly surpassing

the target set by the United States Department

of Energy. The high performance computing

infrastructure required for such theoretical

research is attributed to Compute Canada,

which performs the critical role of providing

state-of-the-art computational facilities, data

www.horizon2020projects.com

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 E V E N

35

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

Two-dimensional

structure of graphene

oxide: ultra-strong

and ultra-thin