Made in Manchester: Graphene

Some of the best discoveries and inventions of the last few centuries have been made right here in Manchester.

In recent times, none have been more significant or unique than graphene.

Discovered at The University of Manchester in 2004, this 2D material has been touted as the ‘miracle material of the 21st century’ and is set to revolutionise every part of our everyday life.

What is graphene?

Graphene is made of a single layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a repeating pattern of hexagons.

It is the thinnest known material in the universe – a million times slimmer than a stand of hair and the strongest ever measured – 200 times stronger than steel.

It stretches like rubber, and conducts electricity and heat better than any copper wire.

Graphene’s amazing and unique properties make it useful to a wide range of fields and industries, such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, energy storage, cooking, paints, communications, solar power, oil and many more.

The potential of graphene is endless…

Clean drinking water for millions with graphene membranes used in water purification technology in developing countries.

A revolution in electronics and energy storage, including more flexible, durable, semi-transparent mobile phones, wearable technology, electric cars and lightweight planes. Batteries will be more efficient, communications faster and biomedical prostheses will have a reduced rejection risk..

The discovery of graphene

Graphene existed only in theory in 1962, but in 2003, Russian physicist Andre Geim, who was studying at the University of Manchester, set about to produce it. He used scotch tape to pull up progressively thinner layers of graphite, and then dissolved the tape, which eventually left him with the first instances of Graphene.

In 2004, Geim and his research colleague Kostantin Novoselov, published an academic paper on the discovery, which has since become one of the most widely cited papers in the field of physics. For this work, they jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

Manchester is proud to house the world-class £61m National Graphene Institute, one of the biggest graphene research hubs in the world, where academics and industry work side-by-side on the graphene applications of the future.

You can learn more about the ground-breaking discovery here:

This pioneering development is helping to shape Manchester’s future prosperity and global standing in attracting and retaining the best skills, knowledge and talent.