AMBER (Advanced Materials and Bio-Engineering Research Centre), the Science Foundation Ireland-funded National Materials Science Research Centre, based in Trinity, is today hosting leading international scientists at a one-day gathering focused on the wonder material graphene.
Graphene is both the thinnest and the strongest material known to science and its discovery has been crucial for our ability to (among other things) create extremely sensitive sensors for medical devices, build incredibly durable cycling helmets, make our touch phone screens more sensitive, and even grow healthy tissue for the heart.
The graphene workshop, held in the Science Gallery, will mark the 10th anniversary of the Liquid Phase Exfoliation (LPE) technique pioneered by Professors Jonathan Coleman and Valeria Nicolosi from AMBER and Trinity’s School of Physics. This revolutionary LPE technique essentially unlocked the material graphene for use in industry – previously it was not cost-efficient to produce large amounts of the material. Graphene conducts electricity better than copper and so the mass production of this material has had massive implications for industry and further research of the material.
It is forecast that an approximately $300 million market, at the graphene supply level, will be formed within the next ten years. This means that we will find graphene, of different types, in numerous volume applications in the years to come. The LPE technique pioneered by AMBER researchers is now the biggest global graphene production method worldwide.
Professor Vincenzo Palermo, Vice director of Graphene Flagship, said: “The Graphene Flagship is tasked with bringing together academic and industrial researchers to take graphene from the realm of academic laboratories into European society in the space of 10 years. The LPE technique, as developed by Professor Jonathan Coleman and Professor Valeria Nicolosi, was an incredible breakthrough in the area of materials science, and particularly for the Flagship. This technique has opened many doors for cross collaboration with industry and academia.”
Professor Jonathan Coleman, Principal Investigator in AMBER and Trinity’s School of Physics, and recent 2018 ACS Nano Award Lecture Laureate awardee, said: “Our anniversary event marks some of the wonderful research breakthroughs we in AMBER, and researchers worldwide, have achieved over the last 10 years. For scientists who are working in the area of graphene, their key focus is to take graphene research out of their labs and translate it into tangible applications for industry and society. We are honoured that internationally leading researchers in the field have accepted our invitation to share their insights at our event.”
Harry Swan, Managing Director Thomas Swan & Co Ltd, said: “We collaborated with AMBER and its researchers for a number of years and they were a major contributor to the successful development of our 20 tons per year graphene plant in the UK. I’m delighted to be part of this anniversary event, there is no doubt that graphene continues to be an exciting material with far reaching implications for a wide range of applications.”
Professor Valeria Nicolosi, Principal Investigator in AMBER, said: “In the next decade nanoscience and materials science in Ireland will lead on the international stage and we remain committed to making a difference to the social and economic well-being of Ireland and beyond through the quality of our research. Ten years ago, August 2008, we published a paper in Nature Nanotechnology describing a new method to produce defect-free graphene nanosheets in liquids. Dubbed liquid phase exfoliation (LPE), this method used ultrasonic energy to separate few-layer graphene nanosheets from their parent crystal in certain stabilising solvents. We showed that the resultant dispersions could be used for further study or processed into functional structures. Little did we know how far this curiosity-driven, side project would go over the subsequent decade. At this point, it is worthwhile pausing to take stock of what LPE has achieved, where it is today and how best it can be developed into the future. Over the course of the day speakers will show us a roadmap for possible applications of graphene, showing how it is a disruptive technology, and also we will get an exclusive glimpse into some new research developments.”
The one day anniversary event will cover leading international speakers including: Andrea Ferrari, University of Cambridge on ‘Graphene – the material for future technology’, Professor Valeria Nicolosi, AMBER, ’10 years down the road…what has LPE enabled us to do so far’, Jonathan Coleman, AMBER ‘Splitting layers – an overview of LPE’, and Thomas Heine, TU Dresden – ‘Two-dimensional materials in three dimensions’ and Vincenzo Palermo, Chalmers University – ‘Graphene exfoliation for large-scale applications: ideal nanosheets vs. real commercial products’.