A new page is turned in the Graphene Research Centre (GRC) history with the funding for the newly created Centre for Advanced 2D Materials which will be directed by Prof. Antonio H. Castro Neto. The National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore has awarded NUS with a S$ 50 M grant over the next 10 years in order to support the operational costs of GRC’s labs and micro and nano-fabrication facility and the exploration, synthesis, and development of new devices based on two-dimensional (2D) materials of which graphene is the most famous.
In fact, there is a multitude of other 2D materials with properties that are complementary to graphene’s. On one hand, graphene, an atomically thin flat sheet of carbon, is a semi-metal and hence a good electrical conductor that can be used in a multitude of applications such as for transparent conducting electrodes, for instance. Phospherene, on the other hand, is a layer of phosphorus atoms in the shape of an accordion with semiconductor properties: an electronic gap of a few electron volts that is perfect for digital applications such as atomically thin transistors. Transition metal dichalcogenides, such as niobium diselenide, are superconductors that conduct electricity without any energy loss and can be used as radio frequency and microwave filters and lossless electric motors and generators.
Besides the current Professors who are members of GRC, the new centre will count on many Engineering Professors leading to even stronger ties between the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering. This increase in numbers will be possible due to an internal restructuring of the operation with the creation of four groups: Graphene, lead by Prof. Barbaros Oezyilmaz; Beyond Graphene lead by Prof. Loh Kian Ping; 2D Devices lead by Prof. Lim Chwee Teck; and the Theory Group whose leader is being recruited.
Furthermore, in order to enhance intellectual property and spin-off generation, and explore industrial connections, the Office of Industry and Innovation (OII) was created with the support of NUS Enterprise. With OII embedded in the heart of the research and creation effort, the time between development and prototyping will be significantly reduced.
Deputy President for Research and Technology, Prof. Barry Halliwell, points out the directions to a bright future for 2D materials science and technology: “To stay ahead, you have to ask yourself, what’s after graphene? You have to develop new materials with completely new kinds of properties.”