Updated: Sunday, 12th July 2020 @ 9:02am

Miracle graphene could 'revolutionise' everything from internet to anti-cancer drugs, claims Manchester scientist

Miracle graphene could 'revolutionise' everything from internet to anti-cancer drugs, claims Manchester scientist

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson

Miracle material graphene could soon dominate the electronic market and lead to novel applications, a Nobel Prize-winning University of Manchester scientist has claimed.

Writing in science journal Nature, Professor Kostya Novoselov has produced a ‘Graphene Roadmap’; the inaugural investigation into what the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material can achieve.

Graphene, according to Professor Novoselov, could revolutionise numerous aspects of our lives simultaneously, ranging from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to anticancer drugs and computer chips.

However, he warned that whilst some groundbreaking applications may appear within a few years, others still require years of work.

Professor Novoselov said: “Different applications require different grades of graphene and those which use the lowest grade will be the first to appear, probably as soon as in a few years.

“Those which require the highest quality may well take decades. Because the developments in the last few years were truly explosive, graphene’s prospects continue to rapidly improve.”

Touchscreen devices, like Apple’s iPad, are a key example of where the material would prove a far superior alternative to current material indium tin oxide.

With outstanding mechanical flexibility and chemical durability, graphene touchscreen devices would prove far more long-lasting and could be marketed within three to five years.

However, devices such as photo-detectors and high-speed wireless communications, which require much higher quality graphene, would not be available until at least 2020.

And anticancer drugs and graphene as a replacement for silicon are unlikely to materialise until around 2030, given the immaculate quality required.

The paper also outlines three main methods of producing graphene, each catered specifically for the needs of different types of application.

Professor Novoselov, who first isolated the material with colleague Professor Andre Geim in 2004, said that prospects for scientists and engineers are certain to be rich.

He said: “Graphene is a unique crystal in a sense that it has singlehandedly usurped quite a number of superior properties: from mechanical to electronic.

“This suggests that its full power will only be realised in novel applications, which are designed specifically with this material in mind, rather than when it is called to substitute other materials in existing applications.”

“One thing is certain – scientists and engineers will continue looking into prospects offered by graphene and, along the way, many more ideas for new applications are likely to emerge.”

Stronger than diamond but as stretchable as rubber, graphene was first isolated by Professor Novoselov and University of Manchester colleague Andre Geim in 2004.

Both scientists won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics ‘for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene.’

Associates from Lancaster University, Texas Instruments Incorporated, AstraZeneca, BASF and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology also had a substantial input into the paper.