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The graphene revolution – changing the face of industry

Thinner, faster, stronger, more flexible – graphene has the potential to bring a new dimension to technologies in fields as varied as fashion, medicine and transport. EU funding is making sure Europe stays at the heart of the new developments.

Over ten years the Graphene Flagship will be funded by the European Commission, member states and associated countries to the tune of a billion euros making Europe a key player in the development of a new generation of materials, components and systems. Unveiling some of the results of ongoing research, the Flagship took to the floor at the Mobile World Congress held from 27 February to 2 March in Barcelona. Speaking in the event’s Graphene Zone, hosted by the Flagship, Nobel Laureate Konstantin Novoselov, from the University of Manchester, said, ‘Before, the number of prototypes we demonstrated was quite small. ‘But we learnt our lesson, we communicated with a number of companies we learned what was required by industry and we managed to adapt. This year we demonstrated many more relevant products.’ Practical applications and demonstration of 20 graphene based technologies covered five areas: the internet of things (IoT) and sensors, wearables and health, datacom, energy and composites. From their lab to your home Wide Hogenhout, the European Union’s project officer for the Graphene Flagship, explains, ‘The aim of the project (….) is to make a difference for European industry, to create jobs and to improve the lives of European citizens.’ Some concrete examples of the improvements that are on the way include developments which will impact on the IoT, from environmental monitoring of dangerous chemicals to collision avoidance for self-driving vehicles. The Graphene Experience Zone demonstrated how the technology can combine visible and infrared light to combat the risk of collision even in dense fog. A range of full colour mechanical pixel systems for low power displays and e-ink were also on view, along with a variety of high performance touch and pressure sensors for tomorrow’s devices and smart objects. Graphene is far lighter than the materials it can replace, something the British-built BAC Mono supercar takes advantage of. Its rear wheel arches are made from a graphene composite and the resulting reduction in weight provides a noticeable performance benefit for the driver. Biologically compatible graphene to play important role in medical sensors The Flagship also demonstrated the importance of graphene to the medical sector: being stable and biocompatible, the material is useful in implantable technologies. Smart therapeutics, DNA and many different analytes, like glucose, glutamate, cholesterol and haemoglobin, all can benefit from the material’s properties. Researchers were also able to demonstrate a retinal implant, which converts light into electrical signals and passes those signals onto the brain through the optic nerve using a graphene interface. For more information, please see: Project website



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