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Beyond chip-and-PIN: graphene’s quick, hygienic solution to restaurant payment

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, August 26, 2020
A new graphene-based contactless payment system, developed in collaboration with the University of Manchester, has begun a restaurant pilot that could pave the way for the end of chip-and-PIN, cutting customer wait-time and reducing the risk of infectious transmission.

‘Payper’ allows the customer to tap their phone on a smart till receipt that features a printed electronic antenna. The smartphone reads data from the antenna, triggering the bill, which is shown via the customer’s default browser. Android or Apple Pay checkout is then completed with two clicks, in less than five seconds with no app required.

Strength and flexibility

The role of graphene in the antenna is to provide high flexibility, conductivity and mechanical strength, which can be imparted onto the tight and variable curvature of the till roll.

The project is led by Manchester start-up Payper Technologies, co-founded by Dr Thanasis Georgiou and Renate Kalnina (pictured right). Thanasis said: “Payper’s antennas combines graphene with metals and other components to realise a near-field communication device that can used as a direct swap for existing restaurant till rolls. 

“By introducing just a small amount of graphene in the manufacturing process, we can translate its unique range of benefits into our ‘smart’ receipt rolls,” he added.

Lowry trial

The team has begun a live trial of the system at the River Restaurant of The Lowry Hotel in Salford.

 “We are delighted to be the flagship hotel in the UK trialling this new enhanced safety payment method to our customers,” said Adrian Ellis, General Manager at The Lowry Hotel.

“The University of Manchester first isolated graphene, so it really is a privilege to be using a product that not only makes the customer journey safer and more convenient, but is also supportive of the city in which the product was founded.”

Thanasis added: “The trial will be used to demonstrate the technology and provide validation of this pay-at-table solution, along with potentially demonstrating other benefits for restaurants, including increasing customer lifetime value, repeat visits and tips, and reducing table-turn time”.

Bridging the gap

Concurrent with the Lowry Hotel trial, the team is conducting further research and development on the system at the University’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme. This will include moves towards an ‘all-graphene’ system, removing the metal components to make the product more sustainable and recyclable.

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester said: “This is a great example of how we can help industry partners - including local SMEs - to accelerate graphene products towards the marketplace and deliver real-world benefits.

“Payper isn’t just about convenience,” he added. “The card machine is the one thing that all the waiting staff and at least one person from every table will touch over the course of a shift in a restaurant. If you can reduce those touchpoints with a truly contactless system, you have an elegant solution to reducing the risk of Covid transmission.”

Tags:  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  Payper Technologies  Renate Kalnina  Thanasis Georgiou  University of Manchester 

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Graphene@Manchester labs reopen for research and business

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, July 23, 2020

World-class research and innovation at the ‘Home of Graphene’ is back on site, as The University of Manchester reopens its facilities following the campus-wide closure of buildings in March.

Staff at the National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) have spent a number of weeks carefully managing the process of reopening their laboratories and multi-user facilities.

NGI Director Professor Vladimir Falko (pictured right) said the graphene research community remained active throughout lockdown and, with researchers returning to their labs, they will rapidly reboot their fundamental and applied research programmes.

“During the COVID-19 closure, NGI researchers continued to work remotely, analysing data, developing theoretical models for 2D materials, planning new experiments and attending the popular Friday afternoon graphene seminars online – but everyone is more than eager to get back to action in their labs,” said Vladimir.

“Thanks to the effort of the NGI’s professional support staff, the building has been efficiently prepared for reopening - and special thanks must go to [technical managers] John Whittaker, Polly Greensmith and colleagues in Estates and Cleaning Services.”

Phased reopening
By the end of July, as part of a phased programme, all of the NGI labs will reopen and be operating at about 25% personnel capacity, with researchers keeping social distancing in the labs and throughout the building. This includes the world-first ultra-high vacuum 2D materials transfer system - the bespoke ‘UHV 2DM press’ - which has been designed for the research group led by Dr Roman Gorbachev.

Several characterisation laboratories have now reopened, including the metrology-class magneto-transport suite hosting a 10 milli-Kelvin cryostat and a 14 Tesla magnet, optical characterisation facilities, and the nanocomposites laboratories.

“I am sure that the NGI groups will be able to deliver on the international collaboration projects such as European Graphene Flagship and European Quantum Technology Flagship, collaborations with partners in the US, Singapore and Japan, and multiple projects with industry,” added Vladimir.

“We will also do our best to support PhD students and several students from our Centre of Doctorial Training, Graphene NOWNANO, are already making samples for their projects on 2D materials.”

Safe systems of working
Meanwhile, all labs at the GEIC are now open, with similarly limited personnel capacity and distancing protocols, allowing staff and industry partners to resume operations.

GEIC Technical Services Manager Philip Hirst said: “The re-opening of the GEIC has been a learning process for all of us. Our aim has been to get to full operation for our industrial and academic partners in a safe manner, following the government guidance closely.

"The process has been measured and iterative to ensure that we are doing what we can to protect our staff and partners. All of the labs are now operational with tight controls over numbers and safe systems of working. It is great to see the GEIC working again.”

Laboratories now open include facilities for rapid development of graphene and 2D materials towards commercialisation in fields such as coatings and composites, batteries, printed electronics and more.

Brazilian steel giant Gerdau - a Tier 1 GEIC partner - has been working in the Masdar Building on anti-corrosion coatings, composites for the automotive industry, membranes and energy storage materials.

Danilo Mariano, Head of Graphene R&D for Gerdau, said: “We were in the first wave of people to get back in the GEIC [in early July]. It’s a different experience, with all the COVID protocols in place, but it feels so good to be back in – talking to the technicians, getting things done. It feels like coming out of a coma.”

Tags:  2D materials  Danilo Mariano  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Graphene Flagship  John Whittaker  National Graphene Institute  Philip Hirst  Polly Greensmith  Vladimir Falko 

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GKN Aerospace joins Graphene@Manchester as Tier 1 partner

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, July 2, 2020
GKN Aerospace - one of the world’s leading suppliers of manufacturing to the aerospace industry - is the latest company to join the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester as a Tier 1 partner.

The collaboration will explore multiple areas of graphene application, including the use of graphene in innovative coatings for aerospace applications, and development of new composite materials.

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, said: “We are pleased to welcome GKN as our latest Tier 1 partner. My background is in aerospace, so I’m really excited about the potential for a collaboration with such an influential player in the industry.

“GKN supplies products to 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers, so we have an opportunity to make a genuine difference to the next generation of lighter, more sustainable aircraft through innovation in 2D materials.”

GKN Aerospace CTO and Head of Strategy Russ Dunn (pictured) said: “The GEIC’s core capabilities and wealth of knowledge in 2D materials and manufacturing make it an excellent partner for GKN Aerospace. It offers a practical path from the development of materials science all the way to industrial application. This includes support to establish new supply chains and collaboration to increase the speed of development, maintaining the UK’s global leadership position in research and development.

“Graphene has the ability to increase the life of products in-service and reduce cost, for example by reducing the need for platinum in fuel cells,” Russ added. “We look forward to working with the University and the local ecosystem to explore commercial applications that meet the growing demand for more sustainable, lighter-weight technology, with increased functionality.”

Partnership model
The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) is a £60 million, industry-led facility, designed to work in collaboration with commercial partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market, along with the processes required for scale up and supply chain integration.

Tier 1 membership of the GEIC offers partners a dedicated laboratory within the GEIC facility, plus access to our unique application labs and specialist equipment, and the chance to work with our academic partners.

Tier 2 membership provides a lower-cost route to rapid feasibility studies, with access to a specific application area, designed for SMEs and start-up companies or larger firms looking to investigate the opportunities for incorporating graphene into their business.

Tags:  Aerospace  GKN Aerospace  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  Russ Dunn 

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Manchester MBAs identify opportunities for graphene

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, June 29, 2020
The International Business Consultancy Project is the capstone of the Full-time MBA. Our MBAs work in multinational teams to pitch for a client with a global business challenge, then undertake three months of full-time consultancy with international travel. This year, one team worked with the University's Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) to identify new opportunities in the energy storage market.

Graphene was first isolated in 2004 by two researchers at The University of Manchester, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov. Andre and Kostya won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work. Graphene is the lightest, most conductable material on earth with potential applications across many fields - from medicine to energy. The project took our MBAs overseas to Germany, France, the USA and India. We caught up with them to find out more.

Why did you choose this client brief?

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) is an R&D facility at The University of Manchester, which focuses on driving the commercialisation of graphene and other 2D materials. The project aimed to provide a strategic market study to find potential market opportunities for GEIC in the Energy Storage Device (ESD) space (supercapacitors and batteries in particular).

We chose this project because it was very comprehensive: it included market research, partnership identification, financial modelling and projection. The team members could therefore utilise their different skill sets to contribute to the project. In addition, the energy storage device industry presented a new market for the team to explore and develop knowledge of.

How did you approach the brief?

The team used a 'bottom-up' approach instead of the traditional 'top down' methodology to analyse the key findings and provide recommendations. This idea came from our supervisor, Dr. Mike Arundale, who gave us a lot of support during the project. To be specific, the team produced a detailed case study of one specific company for each market segment, then made a projection for that segment and finally analysed the whole industry.

Which countries did you travel to and why?

Based on the secondary research, the team identified the USA, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Germany and France as the potential markets for GEIC to focus on and explore future partnership opportunities in. 45 interviews were held across Germany, France, the USA, China and India between February 6 and March 13, 2020. 

Due to the unexpected Coronavirus situation, in the end the team was only able to travel to the USA, India, Germany and France. This meant that 30 of the interviews were held face-to-face and 15 were conducted by conference call with Chinese, Japanese and South Korean companies.

What was the biggest challenge and what was the biggest achievement? 

 "At the initial stage, the biggest challenge was understanding the technical information and benefits of graphene. The biggest achievement was that we were able to understand the industry and reach the goal of finding potential partnerships for the client. It was a collaborative effort." - Lissete Flores, Peruvian

"The most challenging task was getting connections for primary research. My project was to search for partnerships for the client in three major markets: the USA, Europe and India. As we needed to build connections from scratch for face-to-face interviews or site visits, my team discussed how to ‘tackle’ interviewees strategically with the best professional practice in order to build professional relationships and get appointments for in-person interviews." 

"The biggest achievement was reaching out to potential partners for our client. Since our client's business is based on the licensing fee from partners, the potential deals are red blood being pumped to the heart of the business." - Pann Boonyavanich, Thai

"The biggest challenges were developing a good technical understanding of graphene as a 2D material and its numerous applications, which span multiple industries, and understanding the advantages of graphene and how it can be used in real-life applications. These elements were key to delivering the commercial aspects of the project. This became further challenging because the technology is quite nascent and there is not a lot of in-depth information available on the internet, which resulted in the team having to rely mostly on primary research."

"The biggest achievement was the team being able to successfully navigate the uncertainty brought on by the Covid-19 crisis and deliver on all the deliverables outlined in the project." - Ritwick Mukherjee, Indian

"For me, the biggest challenge was finding the relevant people to interview, getting them to agree to an interview and then fitting this into our travelling window. Some people were on annual leave and some could not meet with us for reasons related to Covid-19. Others did not reply till we were actually in the US, and a couple of companies worked with the US military and therefore most of their operational information was classified. Pann and I were on the east coast of the US and had to manage travelling and interviews in Boston, New York, Tennessee, Detroit and Chicago. Memorable journeys to interview potential partners include taking four flights in one day (a round trip from New York to Tennessee); and driving for six hours through a snowstorm to get to an interview in Chicago."

"The biggest achievement was realising during an interview that the company had synergies, problems or solutions that would match well with our client. It was very rewarding to be able to provide partnerships that would generate new revenue streams for our client and therefore justify their faith and investment in our team. Getting closer to each other and working well as a team was also a big achievement." - Timeyin Akerele, British-Nigerian

"Apart from the above mentioned by my team members, I also want to highlight that we had to change our interview plan entirely from China to Europe within just one week. We did the research again and identified Germany and France to replace the original destination, China, due to the unexpected Coronavirus situation. It was intensive to replan the interview travel and redo the budget, but it was also a valuable learning experience. This has motivated me to always be resilient when faced with uncertainties."

"The biggest achievements were, firstly, the team successfully helped the client find potential partners with detailed contacts for further discussion by using a new approach, the 'bottom-up' approach. Secondly, the team had a great chance to gain knowledge of the energy storage devices industry, and the value that advanced materials such as graphene can bring to the industry. Personally, I had no knowledge of this before." - Xingbo Wu, Chinese

What were the results and recommendations? 

The total market size of supercapacitor applications globally is worth around £2.27 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of ~20% between 2020-2030 and three key application industry segments: consumer electronics, automotive and power grid.

Companies that have an R&D gap that could be filled by graphene, in order to better meet customer demands, are potential partners for GEIC. For example, large manufacturers who lack supercapacitor product lines, or small manufacturers.

When targeting potential partnerships, the team recommended that GEIC should highlight its competitive position. GEIC is the only establishment offering capabilities in graphene, batteries, supercapacitors and biomedical fields, with a focus on both research and the commercialisation and scale-up of new technologies. 

How would you sum up your experience in three words?   

Lissete: Challenging - Teamwork - Fun

Pann: Dynamic - VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) - Exciting

Ritwick: Pushing - New - Frontiers

Timeyin: Amazing - Unpredictable - Teamwork

Xingbo: Uncertain - Unforgettable - United

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Lissete Flores  Pann Boonyavanich  Ritwick Mukherjee  Supercapacitor  Timeyin Akerele  University of Manchester  Xingbo Wu 

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Manchester launches spin-out to bring innovative water-filtration technology to market

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, June 20, 2020
Scientists and innovation experts from The University of Manchester have worked together to successfully develop a new, market-ready technology using 2D materials that could be a game-changer for the water filtration sector.
ollowing an 18-month technical development and business planning programme - funded by the University - the team of innovators has launched a spin-out company called Molymem Limited to help take the new membrane product into the marketplace. The technology has applications in the pharmaceutical, wastewater management and food and beverage sectors.

The breakthrough development of a high-performing membrane coating is based around a new class of 2D materials, pioneered by Manchester researchers Professor Rob Dryfe and Dr Mark Bissett (pictured right), working with Clive Rowland, team leader for the Molymem project and the University’s Associate Vice-President for Intellectual Property.

Clive explained that membranes are used globally for separation applications in a wide range of valuable markets. “But all of these applications can be expensive,” he added. “They consume high energy and are prone to fouling - and, as a result, require frequent deep cleaning with corrosive chemicals. This causes lost production time and, due to the harsh nature of chemicals being used, it also leads to a deterioration in membrane quality over time.”

Using chemically modified molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), which is widely available at low cost and easily processed, Molymem has developed an energy-efficient and highly versatile membrane coating.

Fast-track innovation
Much of the lab-to-market work was carried out at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), which is dedicated to the fast-tracking of pilot innovation around graphene and other 2D materials. Graphene is the world’s first man-made 2D material and offers a range of disruptive capabilities.

Molymem is now ideally placed to raise investment capital to embark on its commercial journey – and interest has already been shown by industrial partners.

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester, said: “The Molymem project demonstrates how the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre can help to accelerate a breakthrough development in materials science into a brand-new, market-ready product.

“Molymem will now be mentored within the Graphene@Manchester innovation ecosystem as part our portfolio of graphene-based spin-outs. This includes bespoke support such as fundraising for future business development and rapid market development.”

Clive Rowland added: “Over the summer, I will hand-over the team leadership to Ray Gibbs, who is managing the University's graphene and 2D materials spin-out portfolio. Ray will look to fundraise and help take Molymem to the next stage of its exciting innovation journey.”

Tags:  2D materials  Clive Rowland  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  Mark Bissett  Rob Dryfe  University of Manchester  water purification 

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Graphene@Manchester teams up with Highways England

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Highways England has again joined forces with graphene experts at The University of Manchester to deliver a new package of innovations.

The research partnership will support a series of projects to investigate how graphene – the world’s first 2D material and boasting unique properties – can help Highways England overcome a number of challenges facing the nation’s motorways and highways.

The new package of work, which has been commissioned by the government company, follows previous research carried out in specialist labs at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester.

This latest programme will see how graphene applications can help improve the resilience and durability of many parts of the road network - and even 'blue-sky thinking' around improved inclusion of electrical circuitry in our road systems.

“We are delighted to be continuing our work with Highways England on what will be a wide range of exciting projects,” said Dr Craig Dawson, Applications Manager from Graphene@Manchester.

Paul Doney, Innovation Director at Highways England, added: “We are proud that Highways England is at the forefront of innovation changes in the transport industry.

Highways England is responsible for the motorways and major A roads in the country, which carry four million journeys over 4,300 miles of road.

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) specialises in the rapid development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications. The GEIC is an industry-led innovation centre, designed to work in collaboration with industry partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market.

Tags:  2D materials  Craig Dawson  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Highways England  Paul Doney  University of Manchester 

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First Graphene and Foster Plastics Industries to Commence Testing on EVA Products

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, May 12, 2020
First Graphene is pleased to advise Foster Plastics Industries Pty Ltd, an Australian versatile extrusion company, is collaborating with FGR to develop PureGRAPH® enhanced ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) materials for use in Foster’s range of solar tubes and plastic extrusion systems.  The PureGRAPH® 10 EVA masterbatch loaded with 30% graphene will be drawn down to the desired ultimate concentration of 0.25% to 1% within Foster’s proprietary black nitrile/PVC compound.

EVA is a versatile master-batching material which is used to incorporate functional additives into various compounds, in this case PVC.  Significant earlier work in collaboration with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) in the UK, demonstrated that PureGRAPH® can be effectively loaded into EVA even at these high levels of 30% weight per weight basis.  The incorporation of high performing PureGRAPH® graphene will seek to improve solar tubes for water heat conductivity, tensile strength, compression strength and longevity in UV exposure.

The successful incorporation of PureGRAPH® into Foster’s materials at their Yatala factory in Queensland will enable Fosters to evaluate the products within its business lines which will benefit from PureGRAPH®.  Masterbatches have been despatched for manufacturing and testing will commence immediately.

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director for First Graphene Ltd, said, “Working with Foster is a further example demonstrating the benefits PureGRAPH® may provide to material enhancement. It is also indicative of the industry diversity to which PureGRAPH® products can be applied”.

Glen Bracken, Managing Director for Foster Plastics Industries Pty Ltd, said, “We are looking forward to working with First   Graphene in testing the incorporation of PureGRAPH®, initially into our solar tube line of products.”

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Foster Plastics Industries Pty Ltd  Glen Bracken  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Plastic 

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Rolls-Royce chooses to partner with GEIC and 2-DTech

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, April 23, 2020
Versarien plc is pleased to announce that, following an open innovation call, multinational engineering company Rolls-Royce has selected to work with The University of Manchester's Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and its Tier 1 partner, Versarien subsidiary, 2-DTech Limited.

The initial programme of work will use the state-of-the-art chemical vapour deposition (CVD) equipment located within the GEIC. The collaboration will look to explore, understand and create technological advances surrounding the use of graphene and other 2D materials used in wiring for next-generation aerospace engine systems.

The work conducted will seek to use the unique properties of these 2D materials to reduce the weight of electrical components, improve electrical performance and also increase resistance to corrosion of components in future engine systems.

The programme aims to present potential economic benefits, through the possibility of significant cost reductions, and global environmental benefits, through the reduction of energy use and lower emissions from electrification.

Neill Ricketts , Chief Executive of Versarien commented:
"The pursuit of sustainability has become an important goal for many companies in recent years. Rolls-Royce is one of the world's leading industrial technology companies and today, the size and impact of the markets its serves makes this task more urgent than ever. Taking advantage of advanced materials such as graphene, has the potential to revolutionise these markets and add real benefit.

" The partnership with Rolls-Royce is a significant endorsement to 2-DTech's work over the years and we are delighted it has been chosen by such a renowned business and look forward to working together."  

Dr Al Lambourne , Materials Specialist at Rolls - Royce, commented:
" Partnering with the GEIC and its members makes perfect sense to Rolls-Royce as we explore the opportunities and properties of a new class of 2D materials. Using the unique capabilities of 2-DTech and the GEIC we hope to address some of the challenges facing materials in the global aerospace industry , as we pioneer the electrification of future aircraft . "

James Baker, Graphene@Manchester CEO, commented:
"The GEIC is intended to act as an accelerator for graphene commercialisation, market penetration and in the creation of the material supply chain of graphene and 2D materials. It's great to see a company like Rolls-Royce partner with us and our other Tier 1 member, 2-DTech, to capitalise on our world-leading expertise and experience, along with specialist equipment, which will accelerate the product and process development and market entry."

Tags:  2D materials  2-DTech  Aerospace  Al Lambourne  chemical vapour deposition  corrosion  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  Neill Ricketts  Rolls-Royce  University of Manchester  Versarien 

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Prize fund available for novel applications of graphene and other 2D materials

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 31, 2020
The Masood Enterprise Centre has opened its annual Eli & Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award competition, which offers a £70,000 prize fund for novel ideas involving graphene and other 2D materials that have the potential to be commercialised.

This prestigious award, in association with Nobel Laureate Sir Andre Geim, is awarded each year to help the implementation of commercially-viable business proposals from students, post-doctoral researchers and recent graduates of The University of Manchester based on developing the commercial prospects of graphene and other 2D materials.

The award acts as seed funding to enable budding entrepreneurs to take the first steps towards turning their novel idea into a reality. It recognises the impact that high-level, flexible, early-stage financial support has in the successful development of a business.

Prizes of £50,000 and £20,000 will be awarded to the individuals or teams who can best demonstrate how their technology relating to graphene and other 2D materials can be applied to a viable commercial opportunity.

Last year saw winning teams address key societal challenges on future energy and food security. They sought breakthroughs by using 2D materials to produce hydrogen to generate energy, and by designing polymer hydrogels to increase food production.

As in previous years, winners will also receive valuable tailored support from groups across our University, including the new state-of-the-art R&D facility, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC); its leading support infrastructure for entrepreneurs, the Masood Enterprise Centre; as well as wider networks to help the winners take the first steps towards commercialising these early-stage ideas.

The award is co-funded by the North American Foundation for The University of Manchester through the support of one of our University’s former physics students, Dr Eli Harari, founder of global flash-memory giant, SanDisk, and his wife, Britt. It recognises the role that high-level, flexible, early-stage financial support can play in the successful development of a business targeting the full commercialisation of a product or technology related to research in graphene and 2D materials.

Tags:  2D materials  Eli Harari  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  SanDisk  The Masood Enterprise Centre  University of Manchester 

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The National Graphene Institute: Five years on

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, March 20, 2020
A day that not only saw a solar eclipse, Friday, 20 March 2015, marked the start of a materials revolution: the opening of the National Graphene Institute (NGI). Since it opened its doors the NGI has played host to some of the world’s most famous faces and set the ball rolling in the advancement of graphene and other two-dimensional materials.

With its unique architectural design the NGI was designed to allow industry and academics to work side by side on new and exciting ideas.

Five years on we take a look at some of the highlights.

2015

No sooner had the paint had dried, did we see the first graphene product: the launch of the graphene lightbulb. This demonstrated the practical uses of graphene and how it could be translated into everyday products.

In June, Manchester hosted the Graphene Flagship’s Graphene Week. The world’s largest graphene and related 2D materials conference. It also included the premiere of Graphene Suite, commissioned by Brighter Sound, the NGI’s composer in residence Sara Lowes collaborated with Professor Cinzia Casirgahi and fellow researchers to create a six-part piece which explored the relationship between science and music.

October saw President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China visit the NGI. He saw the some of the latest developments in graphene applications and took at tour of the world-class facilities.

To conclude the year, the NGI was crowned Major Building Project of the Year at the annual British Construction Industry Awards. Designed by Jestico & Whiles, the NGI fought off strong competition from six other shortlisted schemes including the Weston Library at Oxford University, Five Pancras Square at Kings Cross and the Brooks Building at Manchester Metropolitan University.

2016
The city of Manchester played host to the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) and held the title of European City of Science throughout 2016. To coincide with this, partnering with the Science and Industry Museum, the first graphene exhibition was launched: Wonder Materials: Graphene and beyond. Looking into the past, present and future, this turnkey exhibition brought graphene to life, taking visitors on an immersive journey inside laboratory clean rooms and stimulating learning environments. The exhibition then went tour to Hong Kong.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the NGI in October. Amongst visiting graphene researchers and taking a tour of the impressive cleanrooms, The Duke and Duchess also celebrated the University’s Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD).

2017
An ultralight high-performance mechanical watch made with graphene was unveiled in January thanks to a unique collaboration. The University of Manchester collaborated with watchmaking brand Richard Mille and McLaren F1 to create the world’s lightest mechanical chronograph by pairing leading graphene research with precision engineering.

April saw a scientific breakthrough when a team of researchers led by Professor Rahul Raveendran Nair, developed a graphene oxide membrane which was able to filter out common salts. Known as a ‘graphene sieve’ this demonstrated real-world potential of providing clean drinking water for millions of people who struggle to access adequate clean water sources. The team have gone on to turn whisky clear and produce membranes for oil separation.

2018
Sprinting into 2018 the first graphene running shoes were launched. Collaborating with inov-8, the brand has been able to develop a graphene-enhanced rubber. Rubber outsoles were developed that in testing outlasted 1,000 miles and were scientifically proven to be 50% harder wearing.

A new national graphene characterisation service was launched, in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory. The service, allows companies to understand the properties of graphene and was established to accelerate the industrialisation of graphene in the UK – forging the missing link between graphene research and development, and its application in next generation products.

The summer also saw Newcastle host the Great Exhibition of the North. Once again we partnered with Brighter Sound to launch The Hexagon Experiment. Music, art and science collided in an explosive celebration of women’s creativity. The Hexagon Experiment featured live music, conversations and original commissions from some of the North’s most exciting musicians and scientists.

2019
News of the ‘graphene sieve’ attracted global attention in 2017, which led to Lifesaver partnering with the NGI. The 18 month project focuses on developing graphene technology that can be used for enhanced water filtration, with the goal of creating a proprietary and patented, cutting-edge product capable of eliminating an even wider range of hazardous contaminants than currently removed by its existing high performance ultra-filtration process.

2019 also saw the first operational year of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre. Focusing on the rapid development and scale up of graphene and two dimensional materials. Together, the NGI and GEIC provide an unrivalled critical mass of graphene expertise and infrastructure. The two facilities reinforce Manchester's position as a globally leading knowledge-base in graphene research and commercialisation.

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Graphene Flagship  National Graphene Institute  University of Manchester 

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