Academic awarded prestigious Royal Society Newton International Fellowship

Academic awarded prestigious Royal Society Newton International Fellowship

An academic at Oxford Brookes University has received the highly prestigious Newton International Fellowship award from the Royal Society to conduct cutting-edge research on nanomaterials.

Iakovos Tzanakis, Professor of Engineering Materials has secured funding for a two-year project which will seek to advance the sustainable manufacturing of two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials such as Graphene and MXene using cavitation bubbles.

Nanotechnology is the design, characterisation, production and application of structures, devices and systems by controlling shape and size at the nanoscale. The nanoscale is defined as having dimensions of 100 nm or less - to give an idea 1 millimetre is equivalent to one million nanometers.


2D nanomaterials have a large surface area to volume ratio and are ultra-thin structures that are only a few atoms thick (a similar shape to a piece of paper but much thinner). They are typically used for biomedical applications, batteries, functional electronics and energy materials. But there are problems with the current manufacturing techniques that restrict the use of 2D nanosheets at scale that Professor Tzanakis aims to overcome. He said: “Currently, the sustainable manufacturing of large-quantity, high-quality, large-size, and defect-free 2D nanosheets is the biggest challenge holding back many uses of these materials.

“The successful integration of 2D nanomaterials in next generation technologies where faster, thinner, and stronger devices are needed is still hampered by the issues associated with the scalability, reproducibility, and sustainability of current manufacturing techniques.

“If the full benefit of using this technology is to be realised, we need to improve the production process for 2D nanosheets which will allow them to become game changers in the manufacturing industry.”

Advancing production

The Newton International Fellowship award, aims to bring together early career post-doctoral researchers from all over the world. Iakavos will supervise a team that aims to advance and upscale the production of 2D nanomaterials by designing a novel environmentally friendly reactor that will use water and other green solvents. The reactor will be using a combination of different size bubbles, combining hydrodynamic and acoustic cavitation, making it easier to produce 2D nanosheets at large scale and in an eco-friendly fashion. Targeted guidelines will be provided to the academic and industrial communities of nanomaterial manufacturers, which will allow improved access to high-quality and internationally competitive 2D nanomaterials.

On receiving the fellowship, Professor Tzanakis said: “This prestigious award is a great honour and we will do our best to make an impact! We expect that our research will advance the sustainable production of 2Ds and lead to a new generation of functional materials. We will pioneer the use of environmentally friendly engineering approaches to large-scale nanomaterial manufacturing and will contribute to wider nanoscience research as well as to industries that use ultrasound processing techniques.

The project aims to begin in 2023, Iakavos will supervise a team of international researchers (led by Dr Morteza Ghorbani) from Sabanci University in Turkey (Centre of Nanotechnology Research and Application) to carry out the research at Oxford Brookes University.