Marko Spasenovic (Graphenea)
Taking graphene from the lab to the industry is advancing by the leaps, thanks to the coordinated pan-European effort undertaken by researchers in the Graphene Flagship. All 15 Work Packages (WPs) showcased their annual highlights in the result report recently published online. Even though it is undeniable that all research directions produced highly interesting and relevant results, the Flagship Director, Jari Kinarent, singles out two of these breakthroughs.
The first breakthrough was a planned one, a result of long-term, goal-oriented research. A prime embodiment of the Flagship goals and purpose, an optical photodetector and modulator showed record performance that will enable, for example, ultrafast data switches for 5G communications. The other breakthrough was a serendipitous discovery that few-layer graphene flakes destroy monocytes, which may find its use in the treatment of leukemia. The Director used this example to point out that research cannot always be planned in detail, and that a basic research component must remain even when the focus shifts towards higher technology readiness levels.
These fantastic achievements are a result of coordinated efforts of the 158 Flagship partners across Europe, however the Flagship continues to include new members through the Associated Members and Partnering Projects modules. Associated Members aid in widening participation and broadening horizons of this unprecedented network of industrial and academic partners.
This year phase Core 1 of the Flagship ends, approaching the half-way point of the ten-year project. The Flagship is now present at major trade shows, such as the Mobile World Congress, Medica, and Composites Europe. Licensing agreements are being signed, products propelled to the marketplace, and spin-offs being launched. Core 2 will see the Flagship organized around six Spearhead projects, with clear objectives designed to fulfill market needs. It is becoming clear that the Graphene Flagship is well on track on its main mission of streamlining the passage of graphene research from the lab floor to end-market products.