About GraphCAT

The ultimate vision of the GraphCAT Community is to establish Catalonia as an international reference in graphene research, development and innovation, with multiple local industries deriving strong competitive advantage in the global marketplace through the integration of proprietary graphene technologies into their products and services.

GraphCAT will achieve this by cultivating a strong community of international graphene researchers, practitioners and businesses, bringing their combined expertise to the development of cutting-edge graphene technologies for and by Catalan industry. It will also provide support for the transfer of technology to industry, as well as the creation of spin-off companies.

Specifically, it will do so through GraphCAT projects, led by Community members and co-funded through the Catalan regional research and innovation strategy for smart specialisation, RIS3CAT.

What is RIS3CAT?

RIS3CAT is the regional research and innovation strategy for smart specialisation, approved by the Catalan Government on 4 February 2014. RIS3CAT is highlighted in the Catalonia 2020 Strategy (ECAT 2020) as a roadmap for the reactivation of the economy and reorientation of the productive sector towards a smarter, more sustainable and integrated economic model.RIS3CAT establishes four strategic objectives and inter-related pillars of action:

KPIs Pillars
To modernise the business fabric by improving the efficiency of production processes, internationalisation and the reorientation of consolidated sectors towards activities with greater added value Pillar 1 Leading sectors
To promote new emerging economic activities through research and innovation to create and develop new market niches Pillar 2 Emerging activities
To consolidate Catalonia as a European knowledge hub, and link technological and creative capacities to existing and emerging regional sectors Pillar 3 Cross-cutting enabling
technologies
To improve the overall Catalan innovation system, increasing the competitiveness of companies and steering public policies towards the promotion of innovation, internationalisation and entrepreneurship Pillar 4 Innovation environment

Graphene sits squarely at the intersection of two of these pillars: Pillar 2 Emerging activities and Pillar 3 Cross-cutting enabling technologies, representing an emerging sector in which Catalonia is well-positioned to play a defining role. With its strong research base, top-class infrastructures and entrepreneurial activity, the region has all of the building blocks to become a hub for graphene and graphene-based technologies and innovation in Europe.

The GraphCAT Community will serve to represent before the Generalitat the graphene community in Catalonia for these and related funding opportunities.

Why Graphene?

Graphene has huge potential to impact established industrial sectors in Catalonia. Some relevant areas of application in which Catalonia has great expertise in developing graphene related technologies include:

• Optoelectronics: The ability to detect light is central to many imaging, sensing and communication technologies. Graphene is an ultra-broadband, high-speed photodetector that can be assembled on flexible substrates and incorporated into CMOS integrated circuits. This makes it very suitable for such optoelectronic applications as LCD smartphone touchscreens, broadband cameras, data communication systems, wearables, displays, medical imaging, etc. These are expected to be among the first mass-produced applications of graphene.

• Biomedicine: Graphene has an inherently-large surface area and high electrical conductivity. It is thin, strong and biocompatible. These qualities make it a good candidate for use in novel medical devices with electrically-functional neural interfaces and implants. More long-term developments may include its use advanced anticancer treatments or as scaffolding for tissue regeneration.

• Biosensors: The optical and electrical properties of graphene (whether exfoliated, or in quantum dot or CVD form) mean that it can be easily incorporated into a variety of different sensors and biosensors for use in health and environment monitoring, and food safety and security, among other applications.

• Packaging: Graphene can also be incorporated into plastics and other packaging materials to improve barrier control, especially in the food industry.

• Composite Materials: Graphene is much stronger and lighter than carbon fibre, the material currently used in the production of aircraft and road vehicles, sporting goods and a range of everyday devices. It is expected that graphene will be incorporated into a wide range of composite materials for use in the aviation, automotive, construction and consumer goods industries.

• Energy Storage: Graphene shows strong potential in the manufacture of supercapacitors that are able to be charged very quickly, and yet also store a large amount of electricity. Graphene- based “micro-supercapacitors” for use in low-energy applications such as smartphones and portable computing devices could potentially become commercially available within the next 5-10 years. Graphene-enhanced lithium-ion batteries could find use in much higher energy applications, such as electrically-powered vehicles. Or they might be used in place of existing lithium-ion batteries, in smartphones, laptops and tablets, except significantly smaller and lighter.

• Photovoltaic Cells: Presenting high physical flexibility and electron mobility, and very a low light absorption rate (around 3% of white light), graphene can be used as an alternative to indium tin oxide (ITO) to complement silicon in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells, promising significant gains in efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

• Spintronics: Graphene holds much promise in a number of areas of spintronics. Current figures of merit already point to its potential for transporting spin information in spintronic circuits and for use in reprogrammable magnetologic devices. Indeed, its subtle interaction with magnetic materials and spin filter properties make it a very attractive material for use in magnetic sensors and next-generation spin-transfer-torque magnetic random access memories (STT-MRAM). This is particularly relevant, since STT-MRAM is broadly considered to be the most promising new non-volatile memory technology, being very well suited for mainstream and mobile applications.

Governance

Scientific and Technical Coordination Team:
  • ICREA Prof. Jose A. Garrido (Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia, ICN2)
  • ICREA Prof. Frank Koppens (Institut de Ciències Fotòniques, ICFO)