iFriday on 29 June focused on how using nanotechnology and graphene can enable hitherto unattainable realities in areas such as energy, medicine, water treatment and the resistance of materials.
José M. González, a Juan de la Cierva researcher at the CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, the Spanish National Research Council), explained how nanoscience changed his life and his professional approach, focusing on studying the behaviour of materials on a microscopic scale and, in particular, carbon nanostructures.
Sacyr's recent iFriday focused on new uses and properties of the materials which can be obtained thanks to nanoscience. The discipline of nanoscience, which studies elements on a microscopic scale, has discovered new properties capable of being of great use in many different fields, such as medicine, energy storage, treating drinking water and resistance of materials applied to infrastructure construction.
Carbon is a special element on the periodic table. It has small-scale applications in unidirectional structures, such as nanotubes, and bidirectional structures, such as graphene. It is already present in multiple products like sports clothing, mobile telephones and LED-screen televisions.
Graphene can also be seen as the leading agent in nanotechnological fusions. It is the last element in which the effects of nanoparticles were discovered, forming part of highly complex structures by combining with other chemical elements.
At the present time, monolayer graphene production is linked to major centres of research such as Houston and Braga. However, thicker structures are used for industrial uses. Spain is one of the leading countries in this industry, producing 17% of the world's graphene.
Graphene is a light element which is more conductive than copper and stronger than steel. These properties will enable it to be used in the short term in water purification and desalination, activities Sacyr engages in through its subsidiary Sacyr Servicios Agua.
Jose M. González is currently immersed in research which links the use of nanotechnology and graphene to treat cancer through nanotubes, carbon nanostructures and nanocellulose.
He considers his biggest personal challenge is to foster scientific learning, so that researchers’ work does not remain merely inside their laboratories, as the road of nanotechnology is long and we will need truly enthusiastic professionals to achieve it.