The Experimental Weekender: Graphene

This week Manchester is going to get a little geeky.

It’s Graphene Week – around 700 academics coming to Manchester to explore, learn, talk and collaborate. 

Graphene was discovered by two professors at the University of Manchester and it got the world excited. So much so that they were awarded the Nobel Prize. It’s light, incredibly thin, and strong. If you’re interested, more information can be found in a section I wrote for the National Graphene Institute, which explains it pretty well, if I do say so myself. 

Graphene nanofabric. SEM micrograph of a strongly crumpled graphene sheet on a Si wafer. Note that it looks just like silk thrown over a surface. Lateral size of the image is 20 microns. Si wafer is at the bottom-right corner.
Graphene nanofabric. SEM micrograph of a strongly crumpled graphene sheet on a Si wafer. Note that it looks just like silk thrown over a surface. Lateral size of the image is 20 microns. Si wafer is at the bottom-right corner.

 

Science wise, it’s a game changer. It opens up possibilities for use in our day to day lives – from electronics such as mobile phones, wearable technology, televisions through to coatings, batteries and light bulbs. And similar elements, those with a similar structure, are now being looked at with fresh eyes. 

It should make Manchester proud and to help everyone explore, understand, and get just as excited, the Museum of Science and Industry have themed an Experimental Weekender all around it. 

Everything kicks off as the academic week ends. Friday evening (26th) sees the Museum open for the grown ups with the Friday Night Experiment. 

I’m not missing this for the world.

To demonstrate the strength and flexibility of graphene, Circus House Manchester are on hand with their acrobatics, there’s screen-printing, carbon close-ups, science selfies, beaded molecule making and an art project, the Great Wall of Graphene.

And it will see a the Graphene Suite, a six movement composition from Sara Lowes who was commissioned to devise a piece of music inspired by graphene and the relationship between science and music. Having met Sara through the day job, I’m very excited to hear this performed. 

GrapheneQuantumCapacitance

It’s not all about the grown ups. Over the weekend, the regular Pi: Platform for Investigation will be back, with scientists from The University of Manchester will also be on hand to shed light on and demystify this new wonder material.

Circus House will be back in the Power Hall and there’ll be the opportunity for mini jugglers and tiny tumblers to discover the Science of Circus in their new show, created specially for the museum’s Experimental Weekender.

researchers use electron-beam lithography to microfabricate graphene devices
researchers use electron-beam lithography to microfabricate graphene devices

 

The Wall of Art will again allow visitors to get creative and for the more hands on, there are drop-in graphite circuit board workshops and you can get up close and personal with the world of graphene in a “Clean Room” photo booth. 

If you’ve ever wondered what graphene is, what it’s about, and why we are quite so excited about it, this is the perfect weekend to get involved. It’ll change our lives, but more importantly, it’ll change those of the younger generation.

As for me, it’s the day job, and even though I’m no scientist, it still intrigues and excite me. 

I want to learn how it’s going to change my world.

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