Here at Hi-5, we are proud of both our Rochdale roots and location within Greater Manchester, especially when you consider the innovative and successful industrial history of this grand northern city. This was the city where Rutherford split the atom, where Turing helped invent the computer. And now it’s born witness to another incredibly exciting discovery, at least to the world of electronics and PCB manufacturers.
Back in 2004 two Russian scientists working at the university – Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov – discovered a new material, Graphene. Developed in the intervening years, it is now seems impossible to overemphasise the importance of this carbon-based material. Graphene is the thinnest, and yet at the same time the strongest, material known to man; imagine the lead of your pencil… only, one atom thick.
In 2010, the two scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, and they have both since been knighted, bringing huge attention to the city of Manchester. Only recently, the university was able to announce a brand new £61million National Graphene Institute, right in the heart of the campus, set to open its doors in 2015. Some voices even speak of a Graphene Valley appearing at the foot of the Pennines, just as Silicone Valley developed in California, creating thousands of new jobs for the region and bringing the electronics industry right to our doorstep.
A fantastic conductor of electricity, the uses for this new material are immediate and numerous, for instance with smart phones, broadband and even the health industry. It will certainly revolutionise the electronics industry, with wide scale implications for printed circuit boards. Patents involving Graphene are already being snapped up by the electronics and PCB manufacturers in South East Asia. For instance Samsung is looking at the potential of manufacturing flexible tablet screens… imagine an iPad, only one that bends like a book. Meanwhile, another Graphene hub has emerged at Cambridge University, where engineers are incorporating Graphene into printed electronics, and even digital paper. They believe their research could lead to “flexible” electronics, which could then be woven into everyday life… and even woven into clothing!
Here at Hi-5 we are dedicated to keeping our knowledge up-to-date and we will be monitoring developments of Graphene, within the PCB and wider electronics manufacturing industry, with keen interest. In the meantime we would like to extend our congratulations to our city’s pair of Russian scientists… another bulls-eye for Manchester and the North West of England!