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A first glimpse of Manchester's world-leading Graphene Institute

14 January 2013

An artist's impression of the new £61m National Graphene Institute (NGI), a centre of research into this material to be built at The University of Manchester.

It is hoped the centre will initially create around 100 jobs, with the long-term expectation of many thousands more in the North West and more widely in the UK.

The 7,600 square metre building will house state-of-the-art facilities, including two cleanrooms, one of which will take up the whole of the lower ground floor. 

The Institute will also feature a 1,500 square metre research lab for University of Manchester graphene scientists to collaborate with their colleagues from industry and other UK universities. 

Funding for the NGI will comprise £38m from the government (part of the £50m allocated for graphene research) and a £23m grant, which the university is seeking from the European Research and Development Fund (ERDF). The NGI will operate as a ‘hub and spoke’ model, working with other UK institutions involved in graphene research.

Some of the world’s leading companies are also expected to sign up to work at the NGI, where they will be offered the chance to work on cutting edge projects, across various sectors, with Nobel Laureates and other leading members of the graphene team. 

Graphene was isolated for the first time in 2004 at The University of Manchester by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov.

Work is set to start on the five-story NGI, which will have its entrance on Booth Street East, in March next year, and is expected to be completed in early 2015.

Graphene could help detect the presence of drugs or toxins in the body or dramatically improve airport security, University of Manchester researchers have found. Working with colleagues from Aix-Marseille University, they have created a device which potentially can see one molecule though a simple optical system and can analyse its components within minutes. The technique is based on plasmonics – the study of vibrations of electrons in different materials

The breakthrough could allow for rapid and more accurate drug testing for professional athletes as it could detect the presence of even trace amounts of a substance. It could also be used at airports or other high-security locations to prevent would-be terrorists from concealing explosives or traffickers from smuggling drugs. Another possible use could be detecting viruses people may be carrying.

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