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  1. ITV Report

£885m award for Manchester University graphene research

University of Manchester Photo: ITV Granada

A "wonder material" first developed at the University of Manchester has shared in the largest financial prize ever awarded for research excellence today.

The inventors of graphene received the £925,000 Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010. Graphene is known as the world's thinnest material.

It can be used for circuits and is set to revolutionise the future of electronics and communications technology.

Today, they saw their work acknowledged again by an £855 million (one billion euro) European Union award to fund 10 years' more work to explore and exploit what the European Commission today called "the unique properties of a revolutionary carbon-based material".

The European Commission statement described "graphene" as:

"an extraordinary combination of physical and chemical properties: it is the thinnest material, it conducts electricity much better than copper, it is 100-300 times stronger than steel and it has unique optical properties... the substance is set to become the wonder material of the 21st century, as plastics were to the 20th century, including by replacing silicon in information and communications technology products."

– European Commission

Work on graphene, although originating in the UK in 2004, is now led by Sweden and includes more than 170 academic and industrial research groups in 17 European countries.

The UK authorities have been criticised for lagging behind in the drive to benefit from its potential.

Russian-born graphene pioneers Andre Geim, 54, and Konstantin Novoselov, 38, both moved to Manchester University in 2001, where they remain at the School of Physics and Astronomy.

They received the 2010 Nobel Physics Prize for "groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene".