Graphene material gets big investment from Britain

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne tours labs at the University of Manchester on October 3, 2011 where he saw research into the use of Graphene.

The British government is plowing more public money into a miracle new substance. Graphene is said to be the lightest, thinnest  and strongest material known to man. It was developed in Britain and could revolutionize high-tech manufacturing.

Graphene is pure carbon formed in the laboratory into sheets only one atom thick -- so thin it’s described as only two-dimensional. The material is also incredibly strong and highly conductive, a million times more conductive than copper.

Two Russian-born scientists at the University won a Nobel Prize for developing graphene and discovering its properties.

The U.K. government funded the research and, as finance chief George Osborn told the BBC, he’s putting up more cash to keep the economic benefits of the breakthrough in Britain.

“There was enormous competition from places like Singapore and the U.S. to get those two scientists over to the those countries," he said. “We had to act quickly to step in and say: you know what? We’re going to provide funding in Britain for that activity.”

The government is handing over an extra $35 million to British universities to develop commercial applications for Graphene which could  be patented. There’s a huge array of possible uses: from touch screens to aircraft components.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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