A new-generation carbon material called Graphene has caught the interest of India's largest private sector steel company, Tata Steel. The company is currently considering about sponsoring a research being done by some meticulous IIT Madras scientists into graphene.

Graphene is one of the top most agendas on the agenda list of many corporations in their search for finding the material that can serve as the next building block for electronic devices and transform the manufacturing sector and its various processes.

Being lighter and stronger than steel, and just one-atom thick, the carbon material is nowadays being tested in a number of applications like substituting silicon being used in smartphones to the components in the bodies of the aircraft in an effort to make flying more fuel-efficient than it is currently.

Graphene's usage has already been successfully experimented in producing automotive lubricants and how the various memory devices (like hard drives in PCs) have the potential of being made much more stronger by the process of meticulously exploiting their special electrical properties.

According to industry sources, the deal between Tata Steel and IIT Madras is expected to be signed anytime next week at the IIT-Madras Research Park.

If the deal does go through, the partnership could end up opening further investment opportunities in next frontier technology spaces for IIT-Madras.

Sometime ago there were rumours floating in the media regarding IIT Madras' plans to open a Centre of Excellence for Graphene. But, now it has come to light, that the centre, which will be set up at the IIT-Madras Research Park, will be focusing on a number of other nano-materials but the primary focus will be on graphene.

Even though Tata Steel will be the anchor investor for the Centre of Excellence for Graphene, the research will also be done for a number of other Tata Group companies.

Some of the probable graphene applications for the Tata Group companies could be enhancements in coating, manufacturing processes, sensors and wearable devices. There is also a possibility to use graphene, or any other nano-material, in the new photo voltaic surfaces that will be used in solar panels.

Tata Steel is considering investing an initial capital of about Rs 10 crore in the year 2016. In addition to this, the corporate is expected to enter into a 5-year long relationship with the IIT for further investments in the future.

European universities like The University of Manchester, considered as graphene's birthplace, and some big companies like Samsung have almost redoubled their actions in finding graphene's commercial applications.

In a number of top Indian institutes, graphene research has now made a jump from the prototyping phase to the phase where its scalability is being tested for various industrial applications.

Recently, a team of scientists at the Alternative Energy and Materials department of IIT Madras had successfully rolled graphene sheets to make nanotubes for application in treatment of cancer.

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