Jonathan Coleman is one of the world’s leading research scientists in nanotechnology and materials science and an internationally acknowledged expert on graphene. Often hailed as a wonder material, graphene is an engineered single-atom-thick layer of carbon which has some extraordinary properties. Graphene is made of super-tough carbon-nanotube fibres, is 100 times stronger than steel, conducts electricity better than copper, and is exceedingly light. It’s also a great capacitor with many uses in energy storage. Potential applications graphene include aeroplane wings, flexible touch screens, bio-polymers in medicine, and 3D printing media.
The hardest part is actually making graphene in quantities usable by researchers, employing tools within practical reach of experimental research scientists. This is where Professor Coleman comes in. In 2008 he demonstrated a way of making large quantities of pure graphene by exfoliating it from graphite using ultrasound. Sonication as it’s called is effective, but nowhere near as good as the next innovation Coleman invented - the so-called shear mixing technique. This involves spinning blades in a graphite rich liquid and has proved remarkably effective - it’s even possible using a household food mixer.
Professor Coleman has been leading research in the field for the past ten years, he has published over 95 peer reviewed papers and is Professor of Physics and the AMBER center at Trinity College in Dublin. He was the recipient of a prestigious European Research Council Starter Grant in 2010 and his work is rated in the top 1% in the worlds of both chemistry and materials science.
In 2010, Prof. Coleman received an European Research Council grant to support his research on “Semiconducting and Metallic nanosheets: Two dimensional electronic and mechanical materials”.