Graphene turns 15

Materials World magazine
28 Oct 2019

Celebrating the 15-year anniversary since graphene was first isolated.

The anniversary of graphene being isolated from shavings of graphite in a laboratory was celebrated at the event Graphene Turns 15 at The Royal Society, London, UK, on Thursday 17 October, 2019.

University of Manchester School of Physics & Astronomy, Professors Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim, isolated the material from graphite at the university in 2004. The nanomaterial is only one atom thick and has been prized for its strength, impermeability, transparency and electrical conductivity. Geim and Novoselov received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their experiments regarding the material.

At the event, Novoselov said graphene had offered numerous possibilities in areas including biotechnology, telecommunication and electronics. The development in 2D materials since graphene was isolated had increased, including through manipulation of van der Waals forces, plus the use of hexagonal boron nitride. The various ways to stack such atomically thin materials to create products with unique and customisable properties had enabled graphene and materials similar in depth had grown and become more diverse.

Other speakers at the event said the material had become a ‘teenager’, and Novoselov mentioned that graphene had not reached the tipping point where it was no longer considered special or seen as commonplace.

He said he did not realise the impact graphene would have when it was isolated. But as for the material’s market takeup over time, Novoselov said he had seen a number of companies enter production with graphene, only to fail. This was possibly as a result of producing the material without an end application and in turn, interest from and adaptation or adoption by buyers.

In terms of areas or applications for which 2D materials are growing in importance, Novoselov said applications in biology, in particular for delivering functional purposes such as artificial tissues or skin, are exciting and would lead to innovation, to which those technologies could be used elsewhere.

Novoselov has also been appointed chairman of the scientific advisor board at Schaffhausen Institute of Technology, Switzerland, where graphene will be one of the six specialist areas of study. He took up the position having previously worked with the institute’s Founder, Serguei Beloussov, one of the speakers at the event.

Novoselov is involved in coordinating and implementing the Graphene Flagship, a project that joins together academic and industrial researchers to maximise the material’s use across Europe. The flagship expects short-term applications in the materials sector, with graphene-enabled inks, composites, and coatings, for applications ranging from food packaging to textiles and sports goods.