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New Turnkey System to Provide Solutions for Nanoscience, Nanotechnology Applications

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The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with Oxford Instruments and the National Graphene Institute (NGI), is involved in a new collaborative project for the development of a commercial measurement system that can be used for various nanotechnology applications. The research organizations are based at the University of Manchester and has been partially funded by Innovate UK.

This collaborative study is headed by Oxford Instruments, and the proposed turnkey system is expected to be developed at its Tubney Woods UK site. The new measurement system will save time and complexity, and also minimize operational costs.

In industrial companies and national metrology laboratories, this measurement system will enable primary resistance calibrations with unexpected accuracy and will operate at cryogen-free low magnetic fields.

Oxford Instruments is determined to provide our customers and partners with state-of-the-art tools and solutions for nanoscience and nanotechnology applications. Working with leading graphene researchers at the NGI and metrology specialists at NPL, Oxford Instruments will bring this smart material to the factory floor and science laboratories. This will accelerate commercial applications of graphene's use in standard measurements and 2D materials characterization.

Dr Ziad Melhem, Alliances Manager, Oxford Instruments NanoScience

Dr JT Janssen, Head of Science at NPL, said: "In the previous decade we have demonstrated that graphene is the best ever material for realizing the quantum Hall effect and that it is ideally suited for resistance calibrations. The challenge of the present exciting Innovate UK project is to take this research and turn it into a real-life application which can be used on the factory floor where it is needed, outside highly-specialized laboratories like NPL. If we succeed in this, many more people can use it or use the system to characterize their own graphene."

Professor Vladimir Falko, Director of the NGI, added: "The graphene-based quantum resistance standard device is going to be a unique example of how blue-sky science finds its way into commercial applications specifically due to its fundamental nature. I am proud that this work, initially funded by the European Commission, is now on track to deliver a practical tool for metrology services worldwide."

Graphene is a two-dimensional, atomic-scale carbon wonder material that has the potential to revolutionize various consumer products and industry products in the future. As the need for accurate measurements at the nanoscale will continue to increase, the quantum resistance system that is graphene-enabled will offer the high-end electronics instrumentation industry with a primary resistance standard for the first time.

The measurement system was developed with the idea of using it directly on the factory floor, to drastically reduce the calibration traceability chain, and to enhance the precision of electronics instrumentation. Observation of quantum Hall effect - one of the most fundamental phenomena in solid-state physics - in graphene has paved the way for a completely new class of electrical metrology tools.

Ever since graphene was discovered at the University of Manchester, the UK has been a global leader in graphene research. Graphene research programs have received funds of more than £80million from the UK government.

Additionally, £2.5million will be invested for technical feasibility studies by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to attain greatest commercial potential of graphene in various applications. A grant from Innovate UK has been awarded to NPL, Oxford Instruments NanoScience, and the NGI in order to study a turnkey quantum Hall system in an industrial setup.

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