Graphene, the so-called wonder material, has been in the scientific limelight since its discovery and the first groundbreaking experiments on it in 2004. The pioneers of graphene, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their work on graphene. The industry has also been at work on graphene, with the Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge, UK, working on graphene since 2006. The first applications of graphene were first revealed back in 2010.
In light of the potential applications of graphene, the graphene FET flagship project was started. This ambitious European project focuses on studying graphene in order to move the material out of the academic-only environment and to provide means of making use of graphene for applications that would benefit the society at large, where it is projected to have a strong technological impact.
Jani Kivioja, a Finnish scientist at the Nokia Research Centre and who also leads the industrial activities within the graphene FET flagship, notes that most of their early work with graphene focused on both experimental and theoretical studies on potential applications of graphene in batteries, supercapacitors, transparent flexible films, sensors, and transistors. Graphene has many potential advantages due to its properties. The material is an excellent conductor, is transparent, extremely flexible and yet strong.
Graphene can be used to create devices that are lighter, transparent, flexible, robust and stretchable. Examples of such potential applications can be found in flexible electronics field: electronic paper and bendable communication devices, advanced batteries, lightweight components, and fast electronic and optical devices are just few examples.
Graphene is expected to give rise to revolutionary applications in other fields as well: in the medical market, we will see applications like artificial retinas, in the electronic field potential applications are with spintronics, an emerging technology that utilizes the intrinsic spin of electrons and its associated magnetic moment.
The Graphene FET Flagship project aims to study graphene further with the hope of create new potential applications, revolutionize multiple industries and create economic growth and new jobs in Europe. With a one billion euro funding over a ten-year period, the research efforts of the project will cover an entire value chain starting from materials production up to components and system integration. The project also aims to exploit the unique properties of graphene as well as solve the gaps in graphene manufacturing industries in Europe.
The project offers a unique opportunity for many European businesses, enabling them to join up with universities and laboratories all around Europe to create a European graphene industry therefore providing the potential of new employment opportunities and increased economic growth. There will be challenges in using graphene on an industrial scale, as graphene technology is still in its infancy and coordinated large-scale research is still needed for its full development. However, if the progress in research and development continues, it is hoped that graphene will have a huge impact in the electronic, medical and telecommunication markets the near future.
However, the supply chain is still developing and proper standardization of graphene-derived applications is required before mass-produced graphene-based products hit the market.