Abu Dhabi: The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, The University of Manchester and the Defence Services Marketing Council (DSMC) have announced the successful gathering of defence and aerospace professionals to discuss cutting-edge research on promising new ‘super materials’.

The Partnering to Achieve Innovation in Defence and Aerospace (PAIDA) Working Group meeting also highlighted the emerging research collaboration between Masdar Institute and the University of Manchester on graphene and two-dimensional (2D) materials.

The PAIDA Working Group meeting, titled ‘Graphene: UAE’s Masdar Institute and University of Manchester Advanced Materials Centre of Excellence for Energy and Aerospace and Defence Applications’, held recently at the Masdar Institute campus, provided industry and government stakeholders the unique opportunity to discuss the graphene and 2D materials research collaboration being established between the two institutions and explore opportunities to engage in the development of these exciting technologies.

The new generation of 2D materials has the potential to revolutionise future technologies in the defence and aerospace sectors. Graphene, which is considered a ‘super material’, is 200 times stronger than steel yet incredibly lightweight and flexible with excellent thermal and electrical conductivity. It may find commercial application in the aviation, energy and defence industries, as well as water purification and treatment and more efficient desalination.

Market intelligence firm IDTechEx Research predicts graphene markets will grow from around $20 million (Dh73.46 million) in 2014 to more than $390 million in 2024 at the material level.

Speaking at the event, Dr Steve Griffiths, Executive Director, Office of Institute Initiatives, Masdar Institute, said, “Masdar Institute is privileged to attract this esteemed array of experts to Abu Dhabi with the support of stakeholders including the University of Manchester and the DSMC.”

As a headline speaker at the event, Dr.Abdelqader Abusafieh, Head of R&D, Mubadala Aerospace, provided a top-level perspective of how graphene can improve electrical, thermal and mechanical applications in aerospace, expressing particular interest in the potential impact that graphene could have on protecting aircraft from lightning strikes.

He also touched on the challenges facing the commercialisation of graphene and other 2D materials, and emphasised the important role industry-university collaborations play in getting these applications to the market.

“In order to speed up the commercialisation of these graphene-based products, we need to think about specific graphene applications, and align research and development efforts towards these products, keeping the university-industry relationship strong from conception through to manufacturing,” Dr Abusafieh said.

Another headline speaker, James Baker, Business Director, Graphene, The University of Manchester, said, “We are pleased to work with Masdar Institute from the academic side, and we are continuously looking for industries that we can partner with in order to produce commercially valuable applications of graphene and advanced 2D materials.”

John Devine, First Secretary (Defence and Security), British Embassy Abu Dhabi, remarked, “We are pleased to see the continued collaboration at this working group level between the UAE and UK in advanced R&D with Masdar Institute and The University of Manchester on the cutting edge of the defence and aerospace sectors with this graphene super material.”

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Lecturer in Nanomaterials and Nano-functional Materials Group Leader at The University of Manchester, also addressed the gathering.