Graphene: Potential of one carbon atom-thick wonder material has not escaped industry's radar

October 23, 2013 by Anthony King,
Graphene: Potential of one carbon atom-thick wonder material has not escaped industry's radar

Graphene FET Flagship is an ambitious European project focused on the eponymous new wonder material. Graphene, a one-atom thick layer of carbon, is light, transparent and strong, whose characteristics have yet to be fully discovered. The flagship project will receive one billion euros over a ten -year period to move graphene out of academic labs and into society, where its applications are expected to have a strong technological and economic impact.

Jani Kivioja, a Finnish scientist, who is a research leader at the Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge, UK, is leading the industrial activities within the project. His group looks to solve scientific challenges in order to transform the converging Internet and communications industry. Here, he talks to about what can do for European citizens.

How was graphene discovered and by whom?

Graphene has in the scientific limelight since the first ground-breaking experiments in 2004. Andre Geim and Kostantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester are pioneers in graphene. They were recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. The first also saw daylight in 2010.

Nokia's research with graphene dates back to 2006. Our work has focused on both experimental and theoretical work on based batteries and supercapacitors, transparent flexible films, graphene transistors and sensors.

What applications may come from graphene?

Graphene is transparent but it is also extremely flexible yet still rigid and a very good conductor. It could be used to create products that are lighter, more robust, transparent, flexible and stretchable. And to make novel electronic and photonic devices possible. Key potential applications are, for instance, fast electronic and optical devices, flexible electronics, functional lightweight components and advanced batteries.

Examples of new products that could be enabled by graphene technologies include fast, flexible and strong consumer electronics such as electronic paper and bendable personal communication devices, and lighter and more energy-efficient airplanes. In the longer term, graphene is expected to give rise to new computational paradigms and revolutionary medical applications, with one possibility being artificial retinas. It also has potential in spintronics, an emerging technology exploiting both the intrinsic degree of freedom of electrons, called spin, and its associated magnetic moment.

How can graphene be considered a platform technology?

Graphene has superior mechanical, electrical, thermal and optical properties versus any other known materials. Moreover, graphene has truly unique combinations of superior properties. All this will enable a multitude of applications in different fields. Furthermore, different applications could be realised by using the very same material, graphene, and graphene-related processes. This is what we mean when we say graphene is a platform technology.

What is the purpose of the FLAGSHIP project?

The mission of Graphene Flagship is to take graphene and related layered materials from academic laboratories and into society. Its objective is to revolutionise multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe.

This research effort will cover the entire value chain from materials production to components and system integration. It also targets a number of specific goals that exploit the unique properties of graphene. For now there are lots of gaps in graphene manufacturing industries, but this will change.

There are some promising applications already. You can print electronics using graphene inks, for example. But the technology will really have a big impact in future, five to ten years from now.

What potential benefits does this project offer to industry?

It is a unique opportunity for many businesses, allowing them to engage with academia to jointly create European graphene industries, offering the prospect of increased and new employment opportunities.

Nokia is interested in graphene, but cannot do everything by itself and we and other industries can benefit from an improved . Also, Nokia can give a lot to this project. Often large publicly funded projects tend to be quite academic where applications and impact is not so clear. But my role and Nokia's role here is to makes sure that the impacts the whole of Europe through its future applications.

Are there challenges to using graphene industrially on a mass product like this?

Graphene technology is still in its infancy and coordinated large-scale research is needed, but if the same progress continues we expect to see some pretty amazing things in the not-too-distant future. Global investments in graphene are in the billions of dollars, but the supply chain structure is still developing. And proper standardisation of graphene-derived applications is also needed before mass products reach the market.

Explore further: Understanding interface properties of graphene paves way for new applications

Related Stories

Photonics: Graphene boosts on-chip light detectors

September 16, 2013

The fabrication of high-performance light detectors—important for computers and mobile devices—using graphene integrated onto a chip is reported in three independent studies published online this week in Nature Photonics.

Express tool for graphene quality control

August 29, 2013

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has collaborated with Chalmers University of Technology and Linköping University in Sweden to help develop a fast and inexpensive tool for quality control of graphene grown on silicon ...

Recommended for you

Two new planets discovered using artificial intelligence

March 26, 2019

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with Google, have used artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover two more hidden planets in the Kepler space telescope archive. The technique shows promise for ...

Infertility's roots in DNA packaging

March 26, 2019

Pathological infertility is a condition affecting roughly 7 percent of human males, and among those afflicted, 10 to 15 percent are thought to have a genetic cause. However, pinpointing the precise genes responsible for the ...

Facebook is free, but should it count toward GDP anyway?

March 26, 2019

For several decades, gross domestic product (GDP), a sum of the value of purchased goods, has been a ubiquitous yardstick of economic activity. More recently, some observers have suggested that GDP falls short because it ...

Droughts could hit aging power plants hard

March 26, 2019

Older power plants with once-through cooling systems generate about a third of all U.S. electricity, but their future generating capacity will be undercut by droughts and rising water temperatures linked to climate change. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.