These graphene products were all developed in Manchester

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Since it was first isolated by two professors working at the University of Manchester, graphene has been hailed as a kind of wonder material.

The 2D material is just one layer of atoms thick. Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov first isolated the material by peeling individual layers off graphite using Scotch Tape.

Their work, which was recognised with a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010, kickstarted a love affair between graphene and Manchester which has led to some remarkable discoveries and developments in the city.

Today, experts reckon that the market for Graphene-based products could be worth £500m by 2020.

The materials super-strength, super lightweight, super conductive properties make the material useful for lots of different applications, including in electronics, sensors, membranes, engineering and much more.

Manchester was the world’s first modern industrial city, now experts from the University of Manchester and local government are trying to create the world’s first Graphene City.

By attracting scientists, manufacturers, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs, the city hopes to cast itself on the forefront of these innovations.

The National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the soon to be built Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) form the backbone of the innovation ecosystem in Manchester. They will reinforce Manchester’s position as a global leading knowledge-base in research and commercialisation.

They have already been at the centre point of some hugely significant innovations as we shall see.

Graphene properties

Graphene is so attractive as an innovation material because it has some amazing properties that make it so useful in different products.

  • Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel
  • It is also lightweight and flexible
  • It conducts heat and electricity efficiently
  • And it is incredibly small and thin

Here are some of the best and most recent graphene innovations that have come out of Manchester.

Graphene light bulbs

A light bulb made with graphene was said to be the first commercially viable consumer product using the material. It was designed at the University of Manchester by a Canadian-financed company called Graphene Lighting. This company is part owned by the university.

The light bulbs have a longer lifespan and use less electricity than regular and LED lightbulbs. They can also be produced at a competitive cost.

The government raised questions about the lightbulbs when it was revealed that the Manchester developed bulbs would be manufactured in Taiwan, prompting Professor Geim to defend academics working with private firms.

Seawater sieve

Scientists from the University of Manchester found that they could use graphene membranes to sieve common salts from compound materials.

Their research demonstrates the real-world potential of providing clean drinking water for millions of people around the globe who struggle to access clean drinking water. The sieve could theoretically be used to sieve salt from seawater to leave fresh clean water sources.

Little Black Graphene Dress

Manchester shopping giant intu Trafford Centre teamed up with the NGI to create a revolutionary high-tech little black dress.

The fashionable dress showcases graphene’s potential to be used in wearable technology. It shows off the materials lightweight flexible properties. It also shows how the material can be used in sensors, with a tiny 2D sensor that measures the wearer’s heartbeat, this prompts LEDs to flash in time.