The USA and Asia are leading the battle to patent the super material graphene. But this is something Professor Jari Kinaret at Chalmers in Gothenburg, the project leader of Graphene-Coordinated Action, wants to change.
Jari Kinaret and Europe’s graphene researchers submitted their final proposal for graphene to be appointed as one of two scientific flagships worth 1 billion euros in research funds, in late October. A decision from the European Commission is expected in January.
According to the researchers at Chalmers, graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, may be the most amazing and versatile substance available to mankind. It's stronger than diamond, yet lightweight and flexible.
The project's initial budget spans 30 months. The researchers are looking for 54 million euros from the EU Commission to cover this period and expect to receive 20 million euros from other sources.
"In the first few years, we intend to focus our research in the field of communications, concentrating partly on ICT and partly on the physical transport sector and applications in the fields of energy technology and sensors," says Jari Kinaret in a press release from Chalmers.
The project involves over a hundred European research groups, among them four Nobel prize winners. Jari Kinaret says industry will also play a role by filling seats on the strategic advisory council, and getting involved as research partners.
“The whole idea is that academia and business will work better together. In Europe we are strong in research, but up to now we have been less successful in deriving financial benefit from research than our counterparts in Asia and the USA.”
Jari Kinaret thinks that the most rapid breakthroughs will be seen in the field of printable and flexile electronics.
"The advantages in this field are huge compared with existing technology," he says. "In the USA, graphene is already being used in packaging material which alerts when someone tries to break it open."
Should graphene not get flagship status, Jari says the researchers will find something else.
”But we have high hopes that this is the way forward,” he says in the press release.
According to Chalmers:
”Stronger than diamond, yet lightweight and flexible, graphene enables electrons to flow much faster than silicon. It is also a transparent conductor, combining electrical and optical functionalities in an exceptional way.”