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Graphene touchscreen enterprise wins prestigious prize

17 October 2017

Christian Berger and Daniel Melendrez with Eli Harari
Christian Berger and Daniel Melendrez with Eli Harari

Christian Berger and Daniel Melendrez have become the fourth winners of the annual 'Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award'.

The award, which carries with it a £50,000 prize, is given every year to a commercially-viable business proposal based on developing the commercial prospects of graphene.

Submissions are accepted from students, post-docs and recent graduates of The University of Manchester.

Christian, who has recently finished his PhD, and Daniel, who is in his final year, won the award for their entry which looks at using graphene to help tackle growing usability problems faced by an increasing number of over 65s who are new to smartphones or other touch screen devices.

Nearly 60% of all of these users report age-related issues when using these devices. Those who experience tremors or reduced perception of pressure application can find these screens particularly difficult to use.

Christian and Daniel are hoping that a transparent film overlay made using graphene may help those who experience problems.

The transparent flexible force-touch interface (MEMS-TI) is capable of correcting for any perceived errors, and could have a wide commercial usage in other applications such as education, digital arts and health care.

Graphene is the ideal material for this usage as it is transparent, flexible and extremely conductive, meaning these is no loss in existing functionality.

Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The University and one of the judges for this year’s competition said: “Our commitment to student entrepreneurship is a vital part of our approach to the commercialisation of graphene.

“The inspiration and expertise provided by Eli Harari combined with the scientific excellence of our graphene research gives today’s winners the opportunity to have a jump-start on the path to creating a significant business. I wish them every success!”

The award is generously funded by Eli Harari, the founder of SanDisk, and his wife Britt. Eli was also made an honorary graduate of The University of Manchester last week at the Foundation Day celebrations.