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Major research grant for Nobel laureate

19 Oct 2015

University of Manchester Nobel laureate Sir Kostya Novoselov has been awarded a major grant to research two-dimensional materials

The £4m grant will allow a team of UK academics, led by Sir Kostya, to further investigate the remarkable properties of 2D materials, which could pave the way for designer materials to meet the demands of industry, and build devices suitable for the applications of tomorrow.

The funding has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of £21m worth of grants aimed at tackling some of the major challenges facing science and engineering.

Developed in answer to a call entitled ‘Towards Engineering Grand Challenges: Network and Multidisciplinary Research Consortia’, a total of 20 UK universities and 80 partners will carry out research.

The projects were announced today by Science Minister Jo Johnson. He said: “As a One Nation Government we are investing in world-class science and engineering across our country.

“We want the UK to be the best place in Europe to innovate and this £21 million investment will bring together the nation’s researchers to address some of the most pressing engineering challenges we face.”

Sir Kostya will lead a team including Professor Vladimir Falko, the newly-appointed Research Director of the National Graphene Institute at the University, as well as Sir Andre Geim, Professor Steve Yeates, Professor Brian Derby, Dr Cinzia Casiraghi and Dr Zhirun Hu, and Professor Andrea Ferrari from The University of Cambridge.

Two dimensional materials are one-atom thick and display a range of properties. The best-known is graphene, which was isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004, and is the world’s strongest, thinnest and most conductive material.

Combining graphene and other 2D materials in nano-stacks called heterostructures can deliver precise, finely-tuned structures which can be engineered design specific applications.

A key element of this grant is to easily print the materials on much more complex large structures. These materials will have use in a number of areas – a key target will be the electronic devices industries as they will able to develop much smaller and adaptable sensors, resulting in a better connected nation through the internet of things.

Sir Kostya said: “Two-dimensional materials is a growing and fascinating area of research, and this grant will help further our understanding of how these materials function.

“Combining a range of 2D materials in heterostructures could allow us to engineer applications and products that are as yet beyond our comprehension.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said; “Economic and political forces will shape the world of the future but these are often led and influenced by advances in science and engineering. The projects announced today will help us plan and maintain our cities, reduce our energy consumption and develop new materials, innovative devices and technology.

“The UK has world-leading academic talent to enlist in the challenges we face as a country and as a species. Investing in research is investing in the UK’s future.”