By Marko Spasenovic on March 11, 2015
With a claim to be the largest European event in nanotechnology, ImagineNano merges Graphene 2015 with several other co-located events, including NanoSpain Chemistry, Bio&Med, Toxicology and PPM (Photonics, Plasmonics, Magneto-optics). The first two days of this event were packed to the brink with activity, which made for a tasteful blend of science, technology, and business.
Tuesday’s program started with introductory talks from the conference organizers and major sponsors, followed by two general scientific talks, including one by a Nobel Prize winner, Jean-Marie Lehn. The talks had little to do with graphene, but were rather of general interest to the scientists at hand.
During the first morning coffee break, participants were exposed to the rather vast expo co-located at the Bilbao Exhibition Center. Featuring at the expo are several graphene producers (albeit not as many as one might expect), various European graphene research centers, country pavilions, companies that market graphene-related lab equipment (Raman, AFM, CVD, and other), and a very thorough scientific poster session.
There was little chance to browse through the entire exhibit during the 45 minute break, but luckily there are two such breaks per day and a longer lunch break. The event quickly branched out into parallel sessions, which mostly focused on the science on Tuesday. If it was only hinted at a couple of years ago, it was certainly driven home this year that graphene was just the tip of an iceberg of ultrathin materials, with phosphorene the talk of the day, or as Antonio Castro Neto put it – the tiger in the zoo of 2D materials.
Wednesday was a slightly different story, with just the morning sessions dedicated to hardcore science, and the rest of the day (at least for the graphene part) branching out even further to cover applications, characterization, theory & simulation, standardization, and worldwide graphene initiatives, funding and priorities. The multitude of parallel sessions ensured that there was no lack of interesting talks, however it also meant that participants sometimes had to choose between two topics that they might have found both interesting. Perhaps next time the organizers could consider extending the conference to a full five days, to spread the talks out.
The most interesting workshop of the day for the Graphene Tracker audience was “Worldwide graphene initiatives, funding and priorities”. The session featured participation from the EC Graphene Flagship, followed by overviews from representatives of Spain, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Brazil, Denmark, UK, and Italy, all places where graphene research is being organized into larger coordinated efforts that include at least a dozen labs.
The largest of those initiatives is the Graphene Flagship, with a projected 1 billion euro investment in graphene over a period of ten years, and a current size of 142 participants in 23 countries. Jean-Marie Auger of the EC and Katarina Boustedt of the Graphene Flagship laid out the project’s organizational structure, which made clear that the Flagship is one of two pilot FET (Future and Emerging Technology) instruments, the success of which will determine whether the EU will continue funding such long-term projects in the future. The first 18 months were directed at forming the project backbone and planning out the rest of the effort, crowned by the recent publishing of the science and technology roadmap for graphene and related materials. The session offered a glimpse into the immense global push to commercialize graphene, probably unlike anything the world has ever seen before.
Perhaps tomorrow will be the most relevant day for graphene commercialization fans, with graphene taking over the “Industrial Forum” part of the conference, with talks from IDTechEx, Graphenea, BASF, Aixtron and others. Stay tuned for the full report at the end of the conference on Friday afternoon, but also keep following us on Twitter (@graphenetracker).