Programme overview

Graphene NOWNANO is a four-year doctoral training programme leading to the award of a PhD in Nanoscience. Our aim is to train the next generation of scientists who will be able to realise the huge potential of graphene and related two-dimensional (2D) materials, driving innovation in the UK, Europe and beyond. Graphene has been dubbed a miracle material due to the unique combination of superior electronic, mechanical, optical, chemical and biocompatible properties suitable for a large number of applications. The potential of other 2D materials (e.g. boron nitride, transition metal and gallium dichalcogenides) has become clear more recently and is now leading to the development of the so-called ‘materials on demand’, i.e. materials with desired properties, not readily available in nature. There has been an explosion of research and development activity in these two areas all over the world in the last few years, with an average of 173 research papers and 154 recorded patents coming out every week in 2013.

The University of Manchester (UoM) is the birthplace of graphene research and has led the huge expansion from fundamental physics of graphene and related (2D) materials into chemistry, engineering, characterisation and bioapplications. Lancaster University (LU) has been an important UoM partner in research on physics and device applications of graphene/2D materials, providing complementary expertise in theoretical modelling and niche experimental techniques.

Graphene NOWNANO is run jointly with its predecessor, North-West Nanoscience Doctoral Training Centre (NOWNANO), providing a wide ranging interdisciplinary PhD programme that teaches the students to think and work across traditional discipline boundaries. The close involvement of the medical/life sciences with the physical sciences is an essential feature of the CDT that has been developed in the framework of NOWNANO and continues in the new CDT.

In addition to interdisciplinarity, an important feature of Graphene NOWNANO is its close engagement with a number of partners, academic and industrial, including our close partnership with the newly established National Graphene Institute in Manchester. 

Programme structure

September to March Year 1:

Taught component of the programme. Students complete four lecture courses that have been custom developed to cover different aspects of the science and technology of nanomaterials and their applications. Two enquiry-based learning (EBL) projects are set and all students complete two extended lab projects. All projects are done in small groups comprising students with different undergraduate backgrounds, which facilitates peer-to-peer learning and provides experience of working as part of a research team. For more information about the taught aspects of the course, see the course syllabus.

PhD research project

During this time students decide on a project which they will undertake for the rest of the programme. See the project selection page for details. 

April Year 1 to end of Year 4:

Students work on their main research projects while taking part in CDT-wide events and further skills training:

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