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2019 David Tabor Medal and Prize

Professor Irina Grigorieva for her distinguished and distinctive contributions to research on physics of two-dimensional materials and nanotechnology, including magnetism, superconductivity and electron transport in graphene, related 2D crystals and their heterostructures.


Head and shoulders photograph of Professor Irina Grigorieva. She has dark, mid-length hair and is wearing a black top and pale blue cardigan.

Irina Grigorieva leads Manchester's programme on superconductivity, magnetism and spintronics in graphene and related two-dimensional materials and is director of the EPSRC CDT in Science and Applications of Graphene and Related Nanomaterials and previously of the North‐West Nanoscience Doctoral Training Centre.

Grigorieva initiated tuning graphene into an insulating, magnetic or superconducting state by chemical functionalization or controlled introduction of defects. She discovered a magnetic response in these materials, despite the absence of 'magnetic' d‐ or f‐ electrons, and that missing atoms in graphene, as well as some chemical species attached to it, produce unpaired magnetic spins. This settled the long-standing controversy about magnetism's origin in carbon‐based materials. She also demonstrated that graphene's magnetism can be controlled and switched on/off by tuning the conduction electron density, with implications for spintronics, for example, spin valves. Developing this line of research further she discovered that few-layer graphene sandwiched between ferromagnetic electrodes in a magnetic tunnel junction plays a role of gate-tunable spin-selecting barrier, demonstrating yet another potential application of graphene for spintronic devices.

Her work was crucial to the isolation of graphene, which led to the 2010 Physics Nobel Prize for Geim and Novoselov. Her particular contribution was in identification of graphene on substrates in a scanning electron microscope and developing techniques for etching graphene and fabrication of first devices, eventually leading to the identification of monolayer graphene and its remarkable properties.

Her most recent research is on new superconductors made by alkali-metal intercalation of two-dimensional and layered materials, including superconductivity in calcium-coated graphene, alkali-intercalated MoS2 polymorphs and black phosphorus. Her work on tunnelling spectroscopy and electron transport in atomically thin crystalline superconductor NbSe2 provided the first experimental proof that the material retains full superconducting gap down to the unit cell thickness with suppression of the critical temperature for superconductivity explained by quantum confinement.

Read about our Silver Subject Medals.