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LCN Researchers Receive Funds to Investigate 'Super Material' Graphene for Coatings & more

Published on 2013-02-14. Author : SpecialChem

London Centre for Nanotechnology scientists will receive £4.5 million public funds to investigate how 'super material' graphene can drive improvements in high-tech industry.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, has announced £21.5 million of capital investment to commercialize graphene, one of the thinnest, lightest, strongest and most conductive materials to have been discovered, marked by the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics as one of the world's most ground breaking scientific achievements.

Three research projects at the London Centre for Nanotechnology will share the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding as part of a new program with a number of industrial partners, including airplane manufacturer Airbus. The scientists receiving the grant hope to develop graphene technologies that will contribute to the UK economy and can be applied by industries around the world.

Professor Neil Alford, Deputy Principal for research in Imperial's Faculty of Engineering, who is playing a key role in one of the new projects, said: "This is a tremendous opportunity for UK science and industry. The new funding will enable us to bring graphene a step closer to useful applications, by helping us explore the physical and mechanical properties of this remarkable material, as well as its behavior at high frequency."

In one project worth £1.35 million, led by Professor Tony Kinloch from the Department of Mechanical Engineering with colleagues from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, researchers will explore how combining graphene with current materials can improve the properties of airplane parts, such as making them resistant to lightning-strikes. They hope the same technology can also be used to develop coatings for wind-turbine blades, to make them scratch resistant and physically tougher in extreme weather conditions.

Professor Eduardo Saiz, from the Department of Materials, will develop new manufacturing processes using liquids that contain tiny suspended particles of graphene, in order to reduce the cost of currently expensive industrial techniques. This project will receive £1.91 million funding and involves scientists from Imperial's Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, and Queen Mary, University of London.

£1.37 million of funding received by Professor Norbert Klein, also from the Department of Materials and shared with Imperial's Department of Physics, will pay for new equipment to deposit extremely thin sheets of graphene, so scientists can explore its electrical properties. They hope that new medical scanning technology may be developed as a result of how graphene responds to high frequency electromagnetic waves, from microwave to terahertz frequencies and all the way to the wavelengths of visible light.

Professor Alford said: "At Imperial we will use the funding to build on first class research that crosses several College departments to vastly improve current technologies such as catalysis, super capacitors, membranes, multifunctional polymer and ceramic composites and a whole range of applications at microwave and optical frequencies. We will work on improving the mechanical properties of composite materials, and addressing the electrical properties of devices, to develop exceptionally sensitive sensors for a range of applications in environmental monitoring and the medical sciences."

About London Centre for Nanotechnology

The London Centre for Nanotechnology is a UK-based multidisciplinary enterprise operating at the forefront of science and technology. Their purpose is to solve global problems in information processing, healthcare, energy and environment through the application of nanoscience and nanotechnology. Founded in 2003, the LCN is a joint venture between University College London and Imperial College London and based at the Bloomsbury and South Kensington sites.

Source: London Centre for Nanotechnology


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