The University of Manchester is involved in two exciting flagship research projects today given funding of 1bn euros by the European Commission.
Winners of the ten-year Future Emerging Technology research programs were announced at a press conference in Brussels this morning.
The first project selected is Graphene: the wonder material first isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004 by Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov. Their ground-breaking experiments won them the 2010 Nobel prize for Physics.
The second is the Human Brian Project – an ambitious plan to aggregate everything known about the human brain and to construct large-scale computer models of the brain.
Led by neuroscientist Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Manchester’s research is led by Professor Steve Furber, whose revolutionary SpiNNaker project provides one of the platforms for the modelling of the brain.
The Graphene Flagship will coordinate 126 academic and industrial research groups in 17 European countries with an initial 30-month-budget of 54 million euro.
Key applications include fast electronic and optical devices, flexible electronics, functional lightweight components and advanced batteries. Examples of new products enabled by graphene technologies include fast, flexible and strong consumer electronics such as electronic paper and bendable personal communication devices, and lighter and more energy efficient airplanes.
In the longer term, graphene is expected to give rise to new computational paradigms and revolutionary medical applications such as artificial retinas.
The flagship will be coordinated by Chalmers University of Technology based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Director is Professor Jari Kinaret who will lead the research activities together with the leaders of the 15 work packages.
The management team is supported by a Strategic Advisory Council that includes the European Nobel Laureates Professor Andre Geim (chairman), Albert Fert, Klaus von Klitzing and Professor Kostya Novoselov, industrial representatives from Nokia and Airbus, and two representatives of the global graphene research community.
Professor Novoselov said: “The Graphene Flagship funding is designed to strengthen European research in the area of novel materials and to build bridges between the best European scientists and industrialists. The hope is that the links that are to be developed within this project between the universities and the commercial companies will lead to many new innovations beyond the Flagship.”
“The University of Manchester has been at the forefront of graphene research for many years, thanks to the efforts of such brilliant scientists as Andre Geim, Irina Grigorieva, Sasha Grigorenko, Ian Kinloch and many others.
“However, the area of graphene and other 2D crystals has grown and widened dramatically, so we are happy to see hundreds of other university and industrial groups in Europe involved in this research. They bring unrivalled expertise to the story. It is great to see that the research which started and continues at The University of Manchester is now spreading across Europe.”
The goal of the Human Brain Project is to pull together all our existing knowledge about the human brain and to reconstruct it, piece by piece, in supercomputer-based models and simulations.
The models offer the prospect of a new understanding of the human brain and its diseases and of completely new computing and robotic technologies.
The EPSRC-funded SpiNNaker project, hosted at The University of Manchester in collaboration with the universities of Southampton, Cambridge and Sheffield, has been developing a machine ultimately to incorporate a million UK-designed ARM processor cores with the primary objective of supporting large-scale computer models of parts of the brain.
Professor Steve Furber said, "Understanding how the brain processes information remains as one of the great frontiers of science.
“Over the last decade we have been developing SpiNNaker to contribute to this great scientific quest, and the Human Brain Project creates a wonderful opportunity to work with experts across Europe and beyond to extract the maximum value from this investment, as well as to create an even more powerful successor to SpiNNaker."