Stars at the ISPO MUNICH 2016
Author:
Louisa Smith

Collaboration between the University of Manchester and Inov-8

Stronger than steel, thinner than anything: Graphene stands at the forefront of a sports footwear revolution

A collaboration between the University of Manchester and British sportswear brand inov-8, a former Gold Winner of the ISPO Award, has resulted in the first-ever company to incorporate graphene into running and fitness shoes in the G-Series range.

Every grip counts - graphene based rubber soles are set to take a grip in the most extreme of conditions.
Every grip counts - graphene based rubber soles are set to take a grip in the most extreme of conditions.

Graphene is the thinnest material on earth and is 200 times stronger than steel. First isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004, its the worlds first two-dimensional material at just one-atom thick and has the potential to revolutionize many areas of technology, in particular in the sports and outdoors sectors.

Graphene, produced from graphite was first mined in the Lake District fells of Northern England over 450 years ago. inov-8 too was forged in the same fells, albeit much more recently, in 2003.

Optimized Performance

The new rubber developed incorporating graphene can flex and grip to all surfaces more effectively, without wearing down quickly, providing reliably strong, long-lasting grip. Performance and responsibility are both achieved: a greater grip, especially on wet substrates alongside the longevity of the product.

“Off-road runners and fitness athletes live at the sporting extreme and need the stickiest outsole grip possible to optimize their performance, be that when running on wet trails or working out in sweaty gyms. For too long, they have had to compromise this need for grip with the knowledge that such rubber wears down quickly,” said Michael Price, inov-8 Product and Marketing Director.

Inov-8 is confident the new G-Series will smash the limits of grip. “Our lightweight G-Series shoes deliver a combination of traction, stretch and durability never seen before in sports footwear. 2018 will be the year of the worlds toughest grip,” he said.

The potential of graphene in all industries is enormous, a concept taken from Wonder Materials- Graphene & beyond.
The potential of graphene in all industries is enormous, a concept taken from Wonder Materials- Graphene & beyond.

Get a grip

Not only is graphene the thinnest material in the world, it is also the strongest, 200 times stronger than steel. Extraordinarily flexible, it can be bent, twisted, folded and stretched without incurring any damage. The potential of graphene within the sports industry is huge.

“When added to the rubber used in inov-8s G-Series shoes, graphene imparts all its properties, including its strength. Our unique formulation makes these outsoles 50 per cent stronger, 50 per cent stretchier and 50 per cent more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber without graphene,” said Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Reader in Nanomaterials at The University of Manchester.

“The graphene-enhanced rubber can flex and grip to all surfaces more effectively, without wearing down quickly, providing reliably strong, long-lasting grip. This is a revolutionary consumer product that will have a huge impact on the sports footwear market,” he said.

The scientists who first isolated graphene were awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2010. Building on their revolutionary work, the team at The University of Manchester has pioneered projects into graphene-enhanced sports cars, medical devices and airplanes. Now the University can add sports footwear to its list of world-firsts.

Stars at the ISPO MUNICH 2016
Author:
Louisa Smith
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