Billionaire Potanin Donated $6.7 Million for Human Brain Links Research

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Russian billionaire investor and philanthropist Vladimir Potanin donated 500 million rubles ($6.7ml) to the groundbreaking project, aimed for creation of smart materials with pre-programmed properties, allowing development of conceptually new technologies. The project envisages the establishment of a brand-new Laboratory of Programmable Functional Materials in Moscow, Russia, and will be carried out under the leadership of the Nobel laureate Konstantin Novoselov.

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Originally conceived in 2020, the new Laboratory will become the first one at the Brain and Consciousness Research Center. The main goal of the Center is to obtain fundamental knowledge about the functioning of the human brain, the nature of consciousness, and the development of related technologies.

Programmable Functional Materials Lab will study two-dimensional materials, including graphene, to create smart materials and to develop on their basis conceptually new technologies, in particular, these materials will be used to develop new approaches to neuromorphic computing, high-sensitivity sensors and brain-computer interfaces.

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In a new format of charitable donations, established business players will support the fundamental Russian science and its development, which has traditionally been supported by the federal and state budgets only. The donation by Vladimir Potanin will cover expenses of the laboratory for the first 5 years of its activity.

Novoselov and another Russian-born scientist Andre Geim, both then professors at the University of Manchester, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering graphene, a one-atom-thick “wonder material” that may allow for speedier computers. The new lab will employ 20 people and also develop “smart” materials with programmable properties.