Versarien has agreed to work with Team Sky on uses for the Aim-listed company's graphene in high performance cycling equipment.
Uses for Versarien's graphene could include cycle frames, wheels and tyres, helmets and other clothing. Versarien and the Tour de France-winning cycling team will explore potential performance benefits in material strength and impact absorption, weight and thermal radiation.
Graphene is the world's thinnest material. It is ultra-light and 200 times stronger than steel. In 2004, scientists at Manchester University discovered a way to extract it from graphite. Versarien, founded in 2011, uses the material in manufacturing processes.
Neill Ricketts, Versarien's chief executive, said: “Professional cycling has always been at the forefront of technical innovation and the rapid adoption of new materials when they can provide a performance advantage. Elite sport is the ideal showcase for our graphene technology as we continue to develop relationships with global organisations to bring graphene enhanced products to market.”
Team Sky has been caught up in controversy after a parliamentary committee accused it of crossing an ethical line by using drugs to boost performance, rather than for medical conditions. Sky rejected the allegation. Its most famous former member is Bradley Wiggins and current riders include Chris Froome.
Carsten Jeppesen, Team Sky's head of technical operations, said the link-up with Versarien was part of a wider effort to find innovations to support its riders.
He said: “This collaboration with Versarien provides us with a unique opportunity to explore the application of new and emerging materials in high performance cycling.”