Graphene inventor Konstantin Novoselov shows the world's first graphene lightbulb to UK Chancellor George Osborne

Graphene light bulb heads for shops

A light bulb made of graphene claimed by its UK developers to consume less energy, offer longer lifetime and be manufactured at a lower cost than a conventional LED bulb, will hit the market in a few months.

The bulb, developed at the University of Manchester, will be commercialised through Graphene Lighting, a spin-off company founded by the university’s researchers.

“This light bulb shows that graphene products are becoming a reality, just a little more than a decade after it was first isolated – a very short time in scientific terms,” said Professor Colin Bailey, deputy president and deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester.

“This is just the start. Our partners are looking at a range of exciting applications, all of which started right here in Manchester.”

The development of the light bulb, expected to be available in stores in only a few months and at a competitive price, was supported by the National Graphene Institute (NGI), established at the University of Manchester to foster development of innovative applications of the wonder material.

“The graphene light bulb is proof of how partnering with the NGI can deliver real-life products which could be used by millions of people,” said James Baker, the institute's business director.

“This shows how The University of Manchester is leading the way not only in world-class graphene research but in commercialisation as well.”

The graphene light bulb is the first UK commercial application of the material, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon whose properties including superb mechanical strength and electrical conductivity.

Long predicted in theory, the wonder material was isolated for the first time in Manchester in 2004 by researchers Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery in 2010.

Having developed into a major graphene research hub since, the university is now home to more than 200 researchers studying the material.

The University of Manchester has a stake in Graphene Lighting, the company commercialising the graphene light bulb, to ensure that the university benefits from commercial applications coming out of the NGI.

The £61m institute was only officially opened last week with the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) contributing £38m and additional £23m coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

There are currently more than 35 companies partnering with the NGI. In 2017, the University will open the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), aiming to accelerate the process of bringing products to market.
 

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