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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N007131/1
Title: Nanoelectromechanics in van der Waals heterostructures
Principal Investigator: Mishchenko, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 February 2016 Ends: 31 December 2021 Value (£): 1,207,767
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Sep 2015 EPSRC Physical Sciences Fellowships Interview Panel 9, 10 and 11 Sept 2015 Announced
22 Jul 2015 EPSRC Physical Sciences Materials - July 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
One of the greatest physicists Richard Feynman more than 50 years ago explored the immense possibilities of miniaturisation and presented them concisely in his talk "Plenty of Room at the Bottom". His vision becomes reality now - thanks to the advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology. The size of electronic compounds has been reduced exponentially over the past 40 years, which has brought us to a modern, globally interconnected world of mobile devices. Furthermore, miniaturisation of electrified machinery (microelectromechanical systems) has revolutionised the field of sensors and actuators. Further miniaturisation might lead to futuristic applications such as medical and industrial nanorobots in the long term. On a shorter time scale, disruptive technologies in the fields of wearable computers, self-powered devices, and smart materials are foreseen.

Although extremely appealing for both academia and industry, further progress in nanomachinery depends on solving the significant technological challenges, such as device reliability, motion control at the nanoscale, manufacturing scalability and so on. I am convinced that 2D materials and van der Waals heterostructures will revolutionize science and technology of nanoelectromechanical systems and will help to overcome these challenges.

This fellowship aims to deepen fundamental understanding of coupling of mechanical and electronic degrees of freedom at the nanoscale, and to design and fabricate electrified nanomachines using recently discovered graphene and a new class of synthetic materials - van der Waals heterostructures - layer-by-layer assembled stacks of individual atomic planes.

Van der Waals heterostructures are the ideal candidates for the next generation of nanoelectromechanical systems because (i) their mechanical strength and the crystal quality are exceptionally good; (ii) 2D materials are atomically thin, hence they represent an ultimate limit of miniaturisation and (iii) friction in this system can be controlled, leading at the right conditions to superlubricity - frictionless and wearless motion at high speed and so on.

With this fellowship a new research field in graphene/2D materials will be started at The University of Manchester. The research will be focused on coupling mechanical response of 2D materials with electrical excitation, and vice versa. The University of Manchester currently leads graphene and other 2D materials research worldwide, but the competition in this field is growing rapidly (especially in USA and China), thus making it more challenging for UK researchers to compete later. Starting this work as soon as possible provides the unique opportunity not to be missed. Moreover, close collaboration with National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester will strengthen this research and will help with delivering the prototype devices and technologies to forthcoming industrial partners.
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk