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Graphene research centre to open

A 25 million centre to research how "wonder material" graphene could be used in everyday life is to be created at the University of Cambridge.

Graphene - a lightweight one-atom thick layer of graphite credited with remarkable strength - is regarded by experts as the future of manufacturing.

The Cambridge Graphene Centre will start work next month, with a dedicated facility due to open at the end of the year.

Its objective is to take graphene to the next level, bridging the gap between academia and industry, the university said. Work will focus on producing graphene on an industrial scale and taking it from a state of raw potential to a point where it can revolutionise flexible, wearable and transparent electronics.

Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: "Graphene's potential is beyond doubt, but much more research is needed if we are to develop it to a point where it proves of benefit to society as a whole. The pioneering work of Cambridge engineers and scientists in fields such as carbon nanotechnology and flexible electronics, coupled with our record working with industry and launching spin-out firms based on our research, means that we are in a unique position to take graphene to that next level."

Funded with a 12 million Government grant and 13 million from industry, the centre will also be a shared research facility with state-of-the-art equipment, which any scientist researching graphene will have the opportunity to use.

The first job will be finding ways of manufacturing and optimising graphene films, dispersions and inks so it can be used to good effect.

Professor Andrea Ferrari, who will be the centre's director, said: "We are targeting applications and manufacturing processes, and broadening research to other two-dimensional materials and hybrid systems. The integration of these new materials could bring a new dimension to future technologies, creating faster, thinner, stronger, more flexible broadband devices."

Firms supporting the centre include Nokia, Dyson, Plastic Logic, Philips and BAE Systems, which all hope graphene could be used in future production.

Manchester University academics Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for isolating the material and measuring some of its astounding properties.

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