The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Revolutionary graphene sports shoes

The University of Manchester and sportswear company innov-8 collaborate to develop revolutionary new running and fitness shoes using graphene

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The British company innov-8 have used graphene in their sports shoes in an industry first .

They will be arriving on the market in 2018. Graphene has been incorporated into the rubber outsoles, and tests show this has made them stronger, more stretchy and more resistant to wear.

The company hail from the same North England Lake District fells as graphite, the mineral that graphene is produced from, and currently trades in over 68 countries around the world.

“Product innovation is the number-one priority for our brand. It’s the only way we can compete against the major sports brands,” says inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey. “The pioneering collaboration between inov-8 and the University of Manchester puts us — and Britain — at the forefront of a graphene sports footwear revolution.”

Graphene was first isolated in 2004 at the University of Manchester. It is the thinnest material on Earth and being one atom thick, it’s the world’s first two-dimensional material. The material has been used in various pioneering projects, including sports cars, medical devices, aeroplanes; and now, footwear.

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader of Nanomaterials at the University of Manchester, explains further: “Despite being the thinnest material in the world, graphene is also the strongest, and is 200 times stronger than steel. It’s also extraordinarily flexible, and can be bent, twisted, folded and stretched without incurring any damage.”

This can be especially useful when considering the needs of running and fitness shoes. “Off-road runners and fitness athletes live at the sporting extreme and need the stickiest outsole grip possible to optimize [sic] their performance, be that when running on wet trails or working out in sweaty gyms,” says Michael Price, innov-8’s Product and Marketing Director. “For too long, they have had to compromise this need for grip with the knowledge that such rubber wears down quickly.

“Now, utilising the groundbreaking properties of graphene, there is no compromise. The new rubber we have developed with the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester allows us to smash the limits of grip.”

Dr Vijayaraghavan adds: “When added to the rubber used in innov-8’s G-Series shoes, graphene imparts all its properties, including its strength. Our unique formulation makes these outsoles 50 per cent stronger, 50 per cent more stretchy and 50 per cent more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber without graphene.”

“And this is just the start, as the potential of graphene really is limitless,” CEO Ian Bailey goes on to say. “We are so excited to see where this journey will take us.”