Graphene and carbon nanotechnology

Synthesis, characterisation and theoretical understanding of graphene, graphene oxide, carbon nanotubes and other carbon-based nanomaterials. This research area includes understanding of the fundamental properties of carbon nanomaterials, development of new growth methods, understanding of the influence of defects on properties and the exploring of possibilities for nanoscale carbon electronics. Device fabrication, carbon composite materials and materials processing are covered in related research; other 2D materials are captured in the Functional Ceramics and Inorganics research area.

Following significant EPSRC investment over the past decade, this research area should consolidate and network current critical-mass investments. We will work with the community to establish significantly stronger links to the manufacturing portfolio through a focus on end-user-oriented research, by building relationships between the community and industry, and to continue to further increase leverage.

In addition, following the large capital investment by the National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the Sir Henry Royce Institute, researchers should exploit this capability and any further investment should be complementary to avoid duplication and to maximise its benefits.

Advanced materials such as Graphene and Carbon Nanotechnology are a cross-cutting theme for Productive, Resilient and Healthy Nation Outcomes. Recognising this, links should be developed between researchers in this area and those in application-driven research areas (e.g. Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Manufacturing Technologies, Energy Storage and Microelectronics Device Technology).

We encourage ambitious projects that address the challenges identified by the Advanced Materials Leadership Council (AMLC) where they align with EPSRC priorities. AMLC themes relevant to researchers in this community are Materials for Functional Systems and Materials for Communications and Electronics.


The UK has a strong international standing in this area due to pioneering work on graphene by UK-based researchers and the subsequent awarding of a Nobel prize, through to EPSRC's significant investment in the NGI at the University of Manchester. (Evidence source 1) Also at Manchester and set to open in 2018, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) will provide the UK with another world-class international research and technology facility in this field.

Advanced materials have been identified as one of the 'eight great technologies', a field where the UK's world-leading potential could enable future development of emerging industries to provide a positive impact on the UK economy. The AMLC's formation provided further confirmation of advanced materials' importance. This potential is also recognised internationally (e.g. by the €1 billion Future Emerging Technologies Graphene Flagship announced by the European Commission). (Evidence source 2,3,4,5,6,7,8)

There is strong and growing industry interest in UK university-based research and development and the area is seen as business-critical across a range of sectors, including energy, chemicals, engineering, manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, pharma, agri-tech and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Links with these should be strengthened and further exploited. (Evidence source 9)

EPSRC has co-funded calls on graphene with Innovate UK, demonstrating the potential and the strategy to bring fundamental research through to application. This is further emphasized by 40% of EPSRC funding in this area coming from the Manufacturing the Future Theme. (Evidence source 10)

There is significant graphene research capacity, following the investment in the NGI and the Cambridge Graphene Centre and the formation of the Sir Henry Royce Institute, with the GEIC set to add even more. There is also a good balance of people across all career stages, including research and community leaders. Students in this area are trained through our Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentship, providing a healthy balance that should be maintained. (Evidence source 10)

This area will contribute to a number of Ambitions in the Resilient, Healthy and Productive Nation outcomes, specifically:

R4: Manage resources efficiently and sustainably

Graphene has potential to be a substitute for materials containing toxic and/or rare elements.

H3: Optimise diagnosis and treatment

Development of new sensor, diagnostic and imaging technologies will require use of advanced materials such as Graphene and Carbon Nanotechnology.

H5: Advance non-medicinal interventions

Graphene has potential as an advanced biocompatible material.

C3: Deliver intelligent technologies and systems

This research area will produce smart tools, intelligent technologies and next-generation 2D semiconductors.

P1: Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies

Advanced materials such as Graphene and Carbon Nanotechnology have potential to be instrumental in new disruptive technologies.

  1. EPSRC, Materially Better: Ensuring the UK is at the Forefront of Materials Science (PDF), (2013).
  2. European Science Foundation, Materials for Key Enabling Technologies, (2011).
  3. Knowledge Transfer Network, Advanced Materials Landscape Study, (2015).
  4. McKinsey & Company, Disruptive Technologies: Advances That Will Transform Life, Business, and the Global Economy, (2013).
  5. Government Office for Science, Technology and Innovation Futures: UK Growth Opportunities for the 2020s (PDF), (2012 refresh).
  6. CS3, Efficient Utilization of Elements (PDF), (2013).
  7. AMLC, Vision papers, (2016).
  8. A.C. Ferrari et al., (2015), Science and Technology Roadmap for Graphene, Related Two-dimensional Crystals, and Hybrid Systems (PDF), RSC Nanoscale, Volume 7, 11, 4587-5062.
  9. EPSRC, Sovereign capability report, (2015).
  10. EPSRC data: student numbers, large grants, fellowships and knowledge maps.

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC support by research area in Graphene and carbon nanotechnology (GoW)
Search EPSRC's research and training grants.

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Caitlin McAuley
Organisation: EPSRC