Graphene commercialisation
Graphene is 200-times stronger than steel, more conductive than copper and as flexible as rubberCC

Two world-leading organisations in graphene research have signed a deal to help better bring the benefits of the material to practical use.

Graphene's unique properties have been hailed as holding the potential for a materials revolution, however attempts to commercialise it have proved difficult.

The partnership between the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the University of Manchester, reached at the Graphene and 2D Materials conference this week, is aimed squarely at accelerating the realisation of graphene's real-world applications.

"With its many amazing properties, graphene has the ability to totally transform entire industries," said Robin Hart, director of programmes at NPL.

What is graphene?

Graphene is a one-atom-thick material made of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice that is 200-times stronger than steel, more conductive than copper and as flexible as rubber.

"Manchester is widely regarded as the home of graphene R&D and by working with them in efforts to speed up the commercialisation of research, we can start to reap the benefits to industry and society that graphene can offer much sooner."

From smartphone screens to artificial retinas

The discovery of graphene at the University of Manchester in 2003 by scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov earned the pair a Nobel prize and has led to significant interest in the substance from the fields of both academia and industry.

The list of graphene's commercial applications is vast and ranges from flexible smartphone screens, to artificial retinas. For such uses to be realised on a wide scale, however, industry standards that assure the quality and properties of the material are needed.

"With this new partnership The University of Manchester and NPL are showing joint determination to lead the way in graphene applications," said James Baker, business director at the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester."Industry leaders need to be confident in the material they are dealing with.

"By working with academics at The University of Manchester and at the National Graphene Institute, companies can be confident in approaching graphene applications with the best possible understanding through comprehensive standards, characterisation and testing."