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University collaboration reveals world’s first-ever graphene sports shoes

20 Jun 2018

The world’s first-ever sports shoes to utilise graphene – the strongest material on the planet – have been unveiled by the University and British brand inov-8

Graphene sports shoes

Collaborating with experts at the National Graphene Institute, the brand has been able to develop a graphene-enhanced rubber. They have developed rubber outsoles for running and fitness shoes that in testing have outlasted 1,000 miles and are scientifically proven to be 50% harder wearing.

Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and at only a single atom thick it is the thinnest possible material, meaning it has many unique properties. inov-8 is the first brand in the world to use the Nobel Prize winning material in sports footwear, with its G-SERIES shoes available to pre-order from 22 June ahead of going on sale from 12 July.

Michael Price, inov-8 product and marketing director, said: “Over the last 18 months we have worked with the National Graphene Institute to bring the world’s toughest grip to the sports footwear market.

“Prior to this innovation, off-road runners and fitness athletes had to choose between a sticky rubber that works well in wet or sweaty conditions but wears down quicker and a harder rubber that is more durable but not quite as grippy. Through intensive research, hundreds of prototypes and thousands of hours of testing in both the field and laboratory, athletes now no longer need to compromise.”

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader in Nanomaterials, said: “Using graphene we have developed G-SERIES outsole rubbers that are scientifically tested to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.

"Graphene is a versatile material with limitless potential and in coming years we expect to deliver graphene technologies in composites, coatings and sensors, many of which will further revolutionise sports products.”

The G-SERIES range is made up of three different shoes, each meticulously designed to meet the needs of athletes. THE MUDCLAW G 260 is for running over muddy mountains and obstacle courses, the TERRAULTRA G 260 for running long distances on hard-packed trails and the F-LITE G 290 for crossfitters working out in gyms. Each includes graphene-enhanced rubber outsoles and Kevlar – a material used in bulletproof vests – on the uppers.

Commenting on the patent-pending technology and the collaboration with the University, inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey said: “This powerhouse forged in Northern England is going to take the world of sports footwear by storm. 

"We’re combining science and innovation together with entrepreneurial speed and agility to go up against the major sports brands – and we’re going to win."

The scientists who first isolated graphene from graphite were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Building on their revolutionary work, a team of over 300 staff at the University has pioneered projects into graphene-enhanced prototypes, from sports cars and medical devices to aeroplanes. 

Now the University can add graphene-enhanced sports footwear to its list of world-firsts.

The collaborative research was made possible via the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account and Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership.