The European Commission has today announced that CRANN, the Science Foundation Ireland funded nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), has secured a primary role in the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Graphene Flagship project. The EU Commission has committed €1 billion to the Graphene Flagship, the largest ever research project funded in the history of the European Union.
The aim of the Graphene Flagship is to realise the commercial potential of graphene, a ‘wonder material’ that is considered the future of manufacturing. 126 academics and industry groups from 17 countries will work on 15 work packages.
CRANN and TCD’s School of Physics Principal Investigator Professor Jonathan Coleman has been selected as Deputy Leader of one of these work packages. CRANN will hire three new researchers, to work with Professor Coleman and his CRANN colleagues, on the Flagship. The group will work with partners in Spain and other member states to research methods of growing graphene for the first time on a range of surfaces, including commercial silicon wafers.
Graphene is the strongest, most impermeable and most conductive material known to man. It is just one atom thick, but is 200 times stronger than steel. Products enabled by graphene technologies could include fast, flexible and strong consumer electronics such as foldable laptops and paper-thin smartphones, and lighter and more energy efficient cars and aeroplanes. In the future, medical devices such as artificial retinas could also be made from graphene.
Welcoming the announcement, the Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock TD said,
“It is particularly fitting, during Ireland’s Presidency of the EU, that CRANN, a leading Irish nanoscience institute of international renown for scientific excellence and direct relevance to industry with over 120 partners, is awarded such a position in the EU’s Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship.”
Minister Sherlock added “I am delighted to see that the Commission has established a research flagship of such ambition, scale and potential. The fact that Ireland is at the very core of this project, the largest ever research project in the history of the EU, is evidence of the tremendous esteem in which our scientific researchers are held and of the direct relevance of their work to Europe’s enterprise and societal development."
Professor Jonathan Coleman said, “It is no overestimation to state that graphene is one of the most exciting materials of our lifetime. It has the potential to provide answers to the questions that have so far eluded us. Technology, energy and aviation companies worldwide are racing to discover the full potential of graphene. Our research will be an important element in helping to realise that potential.”
Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI, said, “The European Commission has likened the scale of the Graphene Flagship to the USA Man on the Moon project in the 1960s or the Human Genome project in the 1990s. That CRANN is selected for such a prestigious role in this Flagship is a not only real validation of the excellent research that the Investigators there are carrying out, but it is proof that funding committed from industry and Government to nanoscience innovation has practical impact. I must commend Professor Coleman and his team on their success and look forward to the exciting first phase of the project.”