The European Research Council has awarded a €150,000 ‘proof of concept’ grant to principal investigator at CRANN Prof Jonathan Coleman to help bring his research to market.
This is the latest honour for Coleman, who has recently been named the Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year for 2011.
Coleman’s research investigates how to produce “nanosheets”, flat sheets of materials that are just one atom thick, or about one hundred-thousandth the size of a human hair. These materials have potential in the development of thermoelectric devices and next-generation batteries.
The latest stage of the research involves developing a method to scale the technique for industrial use by simply using soap and water. This research contributed to Coleman being named the Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year 2011.
Coleman said the grant will help develop the latest stage of the research, adding it “is a crucial step towards the commercialisation of our technique to exfoliate layered compounds.
“There are hundreds of these layered materials, such as boron nitride and molybdenum disulphide, and being able to inexpensively arrange them into atom-thick layers would allow us to access their extraordinary electronic and thermoelectric properties.
“Potentially, we can use these materials to produce energy storage devices, such as advanced batteries, which have the potential to transform the way we think about energy,” Coleman added. “The application of nanoscience in improving everyday items essentially has no bounds. I am delighted to continue this research and look forward to even more new discoveries.”
International recognition of Irish science
Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, executive director of CRANN, said Coleman being awarded the grant is further evidence of the international recognition being given to Irish science.
“Ireland is in the top 10 countries worldwide for nanoscience research and CRANN is at the fore of this, having published more than 150 papers since 2010,” said O’Brien, adding that the reach of nanoscience in terms of its application in industry is hugely significant.
“It will be a crucial factor in attracting continued foreign direct investment and expanding our industry engagement programme, which already includes the likes of Intel and Hewlett Packard,” he said.
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