Graphene – Blah or Star?

At Graphene week in Manchester and the new National Graphene Institute. Its a great new building with lots of space and facility.  http://www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk I have visited a few of these faculties, such as the Center for Process Innovation and several Catapults. All are great examples of the UK government putting money into the knowledge economy and especially science and Technology. Graphene has been an odd story though. Since its discovery UK success stories have been a bit thin on the ground. I have begun to wonder if the truth will live up to the blah blah hype. More to the point – Has the UK missed the boat on Graphene? Was it really two academics playing with pencils and sticky tape on a friday afternoon?  Us Brits love stories of eccentric Men in Sheds making the eureka discovery – and that has been the popular image of Graphene – but we do ourselves a big disservice by promoting this as the academic norm. There are very good reasons why Manchester is the home to Graphene and they are modern rigorous and serious reasons. Manchester university is home to world class capability in materials science, electronics, composites and life sciences. In total 200+ research accademics across multiple departments are involved in defining, measuring testing and applying Grapene and other one and two dimensional materials. The National Graphene Institute will bring them together with industry partners to solve real problems.   And the Hype? Measured quantified and predictable results have been shown for membrane filters that purify water, supercapacitors with power storage densities of LiPo batteries and life sciences applications for drug delivery are all well advanced. Blah Blah?  Not this time.

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