The Massachusetts Institute of Technology wants to give the development of graphene a boost.
The university is creating a new center that will focus on exploring strategies to create actual devices and applications for the nano-material.
Researchers have so far focused on studying the attributes of the material, but MIT wants to go a step further and coordinate the resources of its disparate departments and industrial partners to accelerate development of the nano-material that scientists say will have a revolutionary impact on everything from solar panels to the speed of the internet connections.
Graphene is an inexpensive, one-atom-thick, nano-material made up of carbon atoms arranged in honeycomb-shaped lattices when it is created in sheets. Scientists are excited by its attributes because as a material for building things it promises to be strong, flexible, and cheap.
“The unique structure and properties of graphene have the potential to impact numerous industries,” said Tomas Palacios, an electronics professor at MIT and the center’s first director in a press statement.
The new center will coordinate 15 groups already working at MIT under one research umbrella and is partially funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research with Harvard and Boston University.
According to the center’s still-under construction website: “The Center explores advanced technologies and strategies that enable graphene-based materials, devices and systems to provide discriminating or break-through capabilities for a variety of system applications ranging from energy generation and smart fabrics and materials, to [radio-frequency] communications and sensing. The MIT-CG supports the development of the science, technology, tools and analysis for the creation of a vision for the future of graphene-enabled systems.”
The material, which was first isolated in 2004, was the subject of study for two Russian scientists who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.
It is so promising that researchers have even resorted to whipping up artificial graphene to help unlock secrets of the real thing.
Researchers have noted that government and industry leaders in Europe and Asia are so excited about the material’s potential that they’ve poured millions into developing it as an industrial material. The European Union, South Korea and Singapore have made major investments.
We’ve reached out to the center for more info. on when research will begin in earnest and what specific projects are planned and will update when get a response.