Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Graphene and carbon nanotechnology

This research area focuses on the synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of graphene, carbon nanotubes and other carbon-based nanomaterials.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This research area focuses on the synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of graphene, graphene oxide, carbon nanotubes and other carbon-based nanomaterials. It includes:

  • understanding the fundamental properties of carbon nanomaterials
  • developing new growth methods
  • understanding the influence of defects on properties
    exploring possibilities for nanoscale carbon electronics.

Device fabrication, carbon composite materials and materials processing are covered in related research. Other 2D materials are captured in the Functional Ceramics and Inorganics research area.

Following significant EPSRC investment, this research area should consolidate and network current critical-mass investments. We will work with the community to establish significantly stronger links to the manufacturing portfolio through a focus on end-user-oriented research, by building relationships between the community and industry, and by continuing to further increase leverage.

In addition, following the large capital investment by the National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the Sir Henry Royce Institute, researchers should exploit this capability and any further investment should be complementary to avoid duplication and to maximise its benefits.

Advanced materials such as graphene and carbon nanotechnology are a cross-cutting theme for productive, resilient and healthy nation outcomes. Recognising this, links should be developed between researchers in this area and those in application-driven research areas – for example biomaterials and tissue engineering, manufacturing technologies, energy storage and microelectronics device technology.

We encourage ambitious projects that address the challenges identified by the Advanced Materials Leadership Council (AMLC) where they align with EPSRC priorities. AMLC themes relevant to researchers in this community are materials for functional systems, and materials for communications and electronics.

Why we're doing it

The UK has a strong international standing in this area due to pioneering work on graphene by UK-based researchers and the subsequent awarding of a Nobel Prize, through to EPSRC’s significant investment in the NGI at the University of Manchester. Also at Manchester, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) provides the UK with another world class international research and technology facility in this field.

Advanced materials have been identified as one of the ‘eight great technologies’, and a field where the UK’s world-leading potential could enable future development of emerging industries to provide a positive impact on the UK economy. The AMLC’s formation provided further confirmation of advanced materials’ importance. This potential is also recognised internationally for example by the €1 billion Future Emerging Technologies Graphene Flagship announced by the European Commission.

There is strong and growing industry interest in UK university-based research and development and the area is seen as business-critical across a range of sectors, including energy, chemicals, engineering, manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, pharma, agri-tech and information and communication technologies (ICT). Links with these should be strengthened and further exploited.

EPSRC has co-funded calls on graphene with Innovate UK, demonstrating the potential and the strategy to bring fundamental research through to application. This is further emphasised by 40% of EPSRC funding in this area coming from the Manufacturing the Future theme.

There is significant graphene research capacity, following the investment in the NGI and the Cambridge Graphene Centre and the formation of the Sir Henry Royce Institute, with the GEIC set to add even more. There is also a good balance of people across all career stages, including research and community leaders.

Students in this area are trained through our Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentship, providing a healthy balance that should be maintained.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Graphene and Carbon Nanotechnology.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 16 March 2023

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