University hosts world’s first graphene hackathon

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) will host the 24-hour event this weekend, where teams will be challenged to develop prototype produces using graphene inks.

Now fully subscribed, the event was open to staff and students from The University of Manchester, as well as external applicants.

Competitors will work in teams of four to six, to design and prototype a product idea which uses conductive graphene inks. Teams will then showcase their innovations in front of a panel of expert judges for the chance to win investment and cash prizes.

The judges are Prof Irina Grigorieva, from the National Graphene Institute (NGI), Dr Simon Howell, Head of Innovation at Graphene@Manchester, and Rob Whielden, Operations Director at Nixene Publishing and John Brennan, Director of the Biointerfaces Institute.

The student team leader is Vicente Ortsmercadillo, a PhD student with the Advanced Nanomaterials Group. He previously studied an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at the University, and is now in the second year of a PhD working on graphene enhanced composite materials.

Talking about the hackathon, Vicente said; “The scientific graphene community here at Manchester is among the largest and brightest. Our goal is to expand the impact we have by making graphene more accessible to communities outside the lab.”

He added; “We want to encourage as diverse a skillset as possible to engage with the material, bringing fresh perspectives and ideas.”

A key aim of the hackathon is to make graphene innovation more accessible to all those looking to explore its potential.

To meet this goal, the hackathon will not only provide access to graphene-based technology and screen printing facilities at the GEIC, but each team will be given a ‘hackathon kit’, containing more commonly found items, such as paints and brushes, as well as a Raspberry Pi microcomputer.

“Screen printing is a mainstream technique used widely in industry to pattern clothes and textiles,” says Vicente, adding; “By incorporating graphene inks you immediately have a scalable way of patterning conductive circuitry onto wearables. It’s a great example of advanced materials enhancing a tried and tested process.”

The event is being supported by industry and education sponsors including Versarien, Google, Mewburn EllisManchester Nanomaterials, Graphene NOWNANOUMIPMasood Enterprise CentreNovalia, and Potter Clarkson.

The event can be followed on Twitter via the account @GrapheneHack.

Launched in 2018, the GEIC serves as the natural complement to the NGI, housing facilities and staff who can help develop concepts into industrial and commercial graphene products.

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