Fundamental Research and Applications in Nano-Electronics, Photonics, Engineering and Bio-Sciences

Project: Research council

Project Details


Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms discovered in 2004 in the UK, is the thinnest known conducting material with unique mechanical, electrical and optical properties governed by unusual and fascinating physics. The discovery of graphene has launched a new era in nanotechnology - the unique properties of graphene can have a vast range of practical applications, from all carbon-based nanoelectronics, which could rival and possibly even replace Si, to medicine and healthcare. We propose to create a UK centre of excellence for graphene research by building on the combined experimental and theoretical expertise of Exeter and Bath Universities, two universities in the South West of England that share strong regional links. Together we have a unique combination of expertise and resources in a broad range of disciplines covering materials physics research: nanoelectronics (including graphene and a range of other carbon-based electronic materials), photonics, nanomagnetism and superconductivity. The 'core' collaboration between Physics and Engineering will expand to embrace Chemistry, Bio-Sciences, and Pharmacy & Pharmacology. Graphene research has already shown itself to be inherently interdisciplinary and the involvement of these additional departments will add a crucial new dimension to the work.The Centre will act as an international focus for graphene science, supporting both academic and industrial research activities. It will create new academic positions and provide a state-of-the-art equipment base, equal to that found in any laboratory worldwide, to attract leading researchers from around the globe. Both Universities have a long term commitment to the development of multi-disciplinary research, and both have set materials research as one of their main strategic directions, with multimillion-pound investments already made in it. Although graphene is a very new research field, we already have several groups with highly successful track-records in the area. New groups, with international standing in their respective domains, from both Institutions, are now being drawn into it and bring their accumulated resources and expertise. The Science and Innovation Award will be distributed between funding new permanent Researcher positions, Post-docs and PhD students, about 25 in total, and completing the infrastructure with top-of-the-range equipment for growth, nanofabrication and nanoscale characterization worth several million pounds. The new staff will be nurtured within a highly supportive environment via interactions with the core members of the centre.The main research directions of the Centre will cover:- all possible ways of producing graphene layers and nanostructures, ranging from chemical, mechanical, to direct growth methods;- exploring the full range of processing techniques to produce graphene structures and devices, ranging from 'bottom-up' atomic scale patterning by scanning probe-based techniques and self-assembly, to 'top-down' nanofabrication using advanced lithographic tools;- a broad spectrum of multi-disciplinary and complementary experiments, that will be supported in parallel by theoretical investigations. These will span from understanding the fundamental physics of graphene, to understanding the behaviour of complex systems and devices involving graphene;- coupling graphene with other topical disciplines in Nanoscience and at the life-sciences interface;- ensuring that there is knowledge transfer and industrial applications of graphene are generated. The Award will also support the creation of a network of International Associate Members of the Centre, including both those working on graphene as well as those in closely related domains that will promote cross-fertilization of ideas. A subset of the international associate members will be invited to sit on an Advisory Board which will meet annually to review the progress of the Centre and guide its development.
Effective start/end date1/10/0931/03/15

Collaborative partners

  • University of Bath (lead)
  • University of Exeter
  • National Physics Laboratory
  • Cardiff University
  • University of California
  • University of Oxford
  • Renishaw plc
  • Raith GmbH


  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council


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