UK failing to capitalise on graphene

A new policy statement from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) warns that while UK universities lead the world in graphene development, the country’s poor commercialisation of the material could see it fall behind.

Graphene is a flat sheet of carbon atoms, a single atomic layer arranged in a hexagonal arrangement reminiscent of chicken wire. Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester first produced the material in 2004, and received the 2010 Nobel prize for physics for their discovery.

Scientists have since discovered graphene has a number of impressive optical, electronic and mechanical properties that could lead to numerous new applications. However, IMechE has found that while over 7500 graphene-based patents had been filed worldwide, only 54 are from the UK. In comparison, over 2200 are from China and 1754 from South Korea – Korea’s Samsung alone holds 407 patents. The institute warns that UK government and industry must work collaboratively with academia to develop a coherent strategy if the country is to reap the benefits of graphene.

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