Graphite as it occurs in pencils is a brittle material that does not exactly spur the imagination, but modified into a two-dimensional web of hexagonal structures, it gains extraordinary superpowers. Graphene, a nanomaterial discovered in 2004, is 200 times stronger than steel, conducts both electricity and heat, and is almost invisible. Over the years, this new class of supermaterials has led to a multitude of new applications and experiments. One of the world’s leading experts in 2D nanomaterials, Valeria Nicolosi of Trinity College, is driven to take this development even further. With her Dublin-based research team, the Italian chemist is working on the radical reinvention of energy storage as we know it. Funded by the European Research Council, her 3D2DPrint project aims to develop 3D-printed batteries that can form part of any product, last 1,000 times longer than conventional batteries, and recharge within a few minutes. As efficient energy storage is a key technology in realising the next level of renewable energy systems, Valeria considers her work to be part of a larger progression towards sustainable societies. At Falling Walls, she illustrates the breathtaking potential of new nanomaterials and the important role they will have in the future.
Valeria Nicolosi is a European Research Council Professor at Trinity College Dublin and internationally regarded as a leading expert in the field of adaptive nanostructures and nanodevices. In her research she focuses on novel materials such as graphene, a one-atom thick carbon sheet which is super strong, lightweight and electrically conductive, properties which form the basis for new technologies that can enable next generation semiconductor and energy storage devices. Next to faster and lighter smartphones, tablets and other electronics, her recent research holds the potential to impact the development of 3D printed, long lasting batteries that can be embedded within any type of material, from smart watches to clothes and implanted cardiac devices.