18 February 2014
The potential for innovation exists in lots of things. Sometimes it comes from having a disappointing experience with a product or service, which is actually part of the reason why Gail and I formed UKFast back in 1999. Sometimes fresh ideas that can solve age old problems jump into our heads in the most unexpected places, as with Archimedes’ Eureka moment. It’s funny how it works but how many great ideas have you had in the bath? I’m willing to bet there have been a few.
Sometimes, however, innovation can hide in the things we use every day; we can be holding the possibility of change and creativity in our hands. Take graphene, for example, the wonder material discovered at the University of Manchester. It is layers of graphene, a single atom thick, that actually form graphite, the stuff inside pencil lead. Made up of a single layer of carbon atoms, graphene has some incredible properties, including its immense strength and conductivity.
Essentially, the potential of graphene is huge, but unlocking its potential and getting it to a commercially usable stage has proved difficult. So I was pleased to see a Greater Manchester company in the news recently for developing a conductive coating using graphene platelets. When applied to electronic equipment, the coating will act as a safeguard, which is especially useful in explosive environments.
Whilst it might not sound glamorous, it’s a significant advancement and it seems fitting that a Manchester-based business should benefit from it. There’s still much more to be done to maximise graphene’s potential, but the work taking place at the University’s National Graphene Institute means we’re making advancements all the time. Ultimately, the new conductive coating, which took millions to develop, is a step in the right direction and another Eureka moment to add to Manchester’s journey as a city of innovation.
What are your thoughts on the commercial potential of graphene? Which industries is it likely to benefit most in the future?