Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, and nobel-The University of Manchester, which won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for preparing graphene and discovering its remarkable properties, and the largest single-site university in the UK, today launched a research collaborative research program covering three innovative projects in graphene/2D materials.

The three projects covering composites, sensors and membranes, will be led by faculty members from both research institutions. The projects will respectively explore the development of novel low-density graphene-based foams for various engineering applications, inkjet-printed graphene micro-sensors for energy and defense applications, and graphene-enabled ion exchange membranes for desalination.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms. Its unique structure – a repeating pattern of hexagons – lends it some unique characteristics. Among other attributes, it is said to be 200 times stronger than steel while being 1000 times lighter than a sheet of paper per unit area and possessing much better thermal and electrical conductivity than copper wire. These characteristics result in a material that has the power to transform energy, medicine, electronics, aerospace and many other sectors.

The announcement was made by James Baker, Graphene Business Director, The University of Manchester, and Dr. Steve Griffiths, Vice President of Research, Masdar Institute, on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit, which is being organized as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Week 2016 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC).

Officials and faculty from The University of Manchester and Masdar Institute attended the ceremony that was hosted at the Masdar Institute pavilion.

James Baker said, “Graphene has huge potential for applications in a large range of sectors, and we are delighted to be collaborating with The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology on these important areas of research.

“The University of Manchester has more than 235 researchers working on graphene and 2D materials and many will now have the opportunity to further their research by working with Masdar.

“Our partnership with Masdar Institute is crucial to the commercialization of graphene and we look forward to seeing ground-breaking research and into developing exciting applications with potential industrial partners as a result of this activity.”

Dr Steve Griffiths said: “The collaboration with The University of Manchester reflects Masdar Institute’s commitment to supporting the UAE’s innovation agenda for establishing knowledge-based industries that leverage materials advances. The projects cover a wide spectrum of applications, in which both universities have expertise. We believe the research program being launched will yield benefits for the UAE’s economic and strategic goals and ultimately achieve global impact.”

Faculty members from both institutions will lead the research projects. From Masdar Institute, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Rashid Abu Al Rub and Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering Dr. Ahmed Al Jaberi will be working with The University of Manchester’s Professor of Material Science Dr. Brian Derby and Lecturer in Structural Materials Dr. Suelen Barg. Their project seeks to develop novel low-density graphene-based nanocomposite foams for engineering applications that include energy..

Masdar Institute Assistant Professor of Microsystems Engineering Dr. Ibraheem Almansouri , Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, Dr. Amal Ghaferi, and Professor of Microsystems Engineering and Dr. Irfan Saadat are collaborating with University of Manchester Lecturer in Nanomaterials Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan, and Professor of Materials Chemistry Professor Michael Turner on a second project that seeks to develop inexpensive fabrication methods for sensor devices that can operate in challenging environments often associated with high temperature energy and military applications.

The Principal Investigators for the membranes research project includes Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and Dr. Linda Zou and Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Dr. Ahmed Al Hajaj from the Masdar Institute side, Dr. Gyorgy Szekely, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, and Chemistry Professor Peter Budd, from The University of Manchester. This work aims to conduct a systematic study of the potential benefits of graphene-enabled ion exchange membranes for water desalination purposes.

Meanwhile, work is progressing on schedule for the AED345 million (£60 million) Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) building being constructed as part of a collaboration between The University of Manchester and Masdar, and is set be completed by the end of 2017. The GEIC is partially funded by £15 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), £5 million from the Innovate UK and by £30 million from Masdar.

The GEIC is expected to accelerate the arrival of graphene products in the marketplace. Commercialization of graphene research has already begun from projects associated with the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute, including graphene light-bulb and graphene RFID tags. Therefore, current research projects may ultimately be targets for commercialization in the GEIC when it is completed in 2017.