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  • By: Siân Fogden
  • Graphene Flagship
  • Publishing date: 21 September 2016
  • By: Siân Fogden
  • Graphene Flagship
  • Publishing date: 21 September 2016

A visit to the Graphene and Beyond exhibition in Manchester

When visiting Manchester, take some time to immerse yourself in the fascinating science and technology of graphene and related materials. The exhibition Graphene and Beyond at the Museum of Science and Industry goes on until 25 June 2017.

Friday 22 July saw the world premiere of a groundbreaking exhibition at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry on Graphene and Beyond. Curated by the museum in partnership with the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester, this exhibition allows one to immerse in the fascinating science and technology of graphene and related materials.

“This exhibition spans the past, present and future of graphene with the aim to make the two dimensional three dimensional' was the message from the Director of the Museum of Science and Industry Sally MacDonald.

This exhibition not only takes you on a journey through the story of graphene but also gives insights into the two men who shared the Nobel Prize for their pioneering work on graphene physics: Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who both work at the University of Manchester.

Nobel Laureate Andrew Geim

The details of the experiments that led Professors Geim and Novoselov to exfoliate graphite into graphene and measure the fundamental two dimensional properties on which their Nobel prize winning experiments were based are fascinating. Their desire to push the boundaries of science comes across very clearly. Graphene scientists can't help but be fascinated by the original tape dispenser that was used in these initial experiments.

From the early documented uses of graphite and graphene (as a lubricant for machinery and as a lining for casting moulds used to produce coins and cannonballs) through to the high tech uses for graphene today, the exhibition tells the story of graphene in an interesting and insightful way.

At the centre of the exhibition is a 'Future Room' aimed at asking rather than answering questions about graphene. It includes videos from Professor Clare Grey (University of Cambridge) who talks about future applications for graphene, including graphene-based batteries, and Professor Andrea Ferrari (University of Cambridge), one of the pioneers of graphene spectroscopy and technology, as well as the Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship, talking about the roadmap into society for graphene and related materials and the role of the Graphene Flagship. The Future Room also contains personal stories from graphene researchers such as Professor Kostas Kostarelos (University of Manchester), which are a fascinating addition to the display.

Award winning author and poet Lemn Sissay

While delving deep into the graphene world, this exhibition also bridges the gap between science and art. A poem by Lemn Sissay (an award winning author, poet and playwright who has recently been elected as the next Chancellor of The University of Manchester), The World Wakes, commissioned especially for the exhibition, leads one through a wonderfully imagined graphene world.  A giant, mesmerising video installation piece shows how a procedure that is simple to a scientist can become art, with an inspiring illustration of raw graphite being crushed as a first step towards graphene production. The series of work tables encourages one to sit down and explore the structure of graphene while devising new two dimensional structures and visualising issues that graphene might be able to solve.

This exhibition has something for everyone and will hopefully inspire the next generation of graphene scientists.

The Manchester-based Museum of Science and Industry is the ideal institution to create this exhibition and it will be based there until 25 June, 2017. After this time it will tour the country, with a first stop at the Science Museum in London before its world tour.

Visit the Museum of Science and Industry website for more information


Image credt: Jason Lock Photography

Author bio

Siân Fogden