President Xi was welcomed to the University, during the first visit of any Chinese President to Manchester, by Professor Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, alongside the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, Viscount Hood, the Queen’s Lord-in-waiting, the Chief Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Jim O’Neill and the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton.
Picture Credit University of Manchester
President Xi visited the world leading graphene research facility to learn about the future graphene applications being developed in Manchester, in collaboration with the University’s global industrial partners.
The official visit took place on the same day that Chinese electronics giant Huawei, China’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, announced a partnership with the NGI to research graphene and related 2D materials. The NGI currently has over 45 industrial partners who work collaboratively with academics to accelerate the commercialisation of graphene applications.
Graphene is the world’s first two-dimensional material, first isolated in Manchester. It is 200 times stronger than steel, more conductive than copper, and has changed the way scientists and industry approach materials science.
Nobel Laureates Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov also welcomed President Xi to the University and were joined by senior government officials from both the UK and China.
Kostya highlighted current graphene research and University links with Chinese business before presenting the President with a gift of traditional Chinese-style artwork, which Kostya himself had painted using graphene paint.
Led by University representatives, President Xi was shown demonstrations of a raft of graphene-based prototypes including; a mobile phone with dramatically increased charging capabilities thanks to a graphene supercapacitor, super-efficient street lighting and pioneering cancer treatments utilising graphene for improved drug delivery.
President Xi also enjoyed a tour of the NGI’s 1,500 square metres of cleanroom laboratory space, the largest academic area of its kind in the UK dedicated to graphene research.
Nancy said during the visit: “The University has a rich heritage and is proud of the breadth and depth of its links with China. We have almost 4,000 students from Mainland China and 170 Chinese staff.
“Our research and innovation spans many areas. We have identified five that are distinctive and world leading: advanced materials, including graphene, addressing global inequalities, energy, industrial biotechnology and cancer. In each of these and in other areas we have strong collaborations with leading universities and companies in China.
“We are very proud of our Confucius Institute, our centre for Chinese studies and the many treasured pieces of Chinese artwork and scripts in our library and art Gallery.