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3D reconstructions of individual nanoparticles

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, April 3, 2020

What do you see in the picture above (Figure 1)? Merely a precisely-drawn three-dimensional picture of nanoparticles? Far more than that, nanotechnologists will say, due to a new study published in the journal Science. Whether a material catalyzes chemical reactions or impedes any molecular response is all about how its atoms are arranged. The ultimate goal of nanotechnology is centered around the ability to design and build materials atom by atom, thus allowing scientists to control their properties in any given scenario. However, atomic imaging techniques have not been sufficient to determine the precise three-dimensional atomic arrangements of materials in liquid solution, which would tell scientists how materials behave in everyday life, such as in water or blood plasma.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoparticle Research within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS, South Korea), in collaboration with Dr. Hans Elmlund at Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute in Australia and Dr. Peter Ercius at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Molecular Foundry in the USA, have reported a new analytic methodology that can resolve the 3D structure of individual nanoparticles with atomic-level resolution. The 3D atomic positions of individual nanoparticles can be extracted with a precision of 0.02 nm--six times smaller than the smallest atom: hydrogen. In other words, this high-resolution method detects individual atoms and how they are arranged within a nanoparticle.

The researchers call their development 3D SINGLE (Structure Identification of Nanoparticles by Graphene Liquid cell Electron microscopy) and utilize mathematical algorithms to derive 3D structures from a set of 2D imaging data acquired by one of the most powerful microscopes on Earth. First, a nanocrystal solution is sandwiched in-between two graphene sheets which are each just a single atom thick (Figure 2.1). "If a fish bowl were made of a thick material, it would be hard to see through it. Since graphene is the thinnest and strongest material in the world, we created graphene pockets that allow the electron beam of the microscope to shine through the material while simultaneously sealing the liquid sample," explains PARK Jungwon, one of the corresponding authors of the study (assistant professor at the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering in Seoul National University).

The researchers obtain movies at 400 images per second of each nanoparticle freely rotating in liquid using a high-resolution transmission electron microscope (TEM). The team then applies their reconstruction methodology to combine the 2D images into a 3D map showing the atomic arrangement. Locating the precise position of each atom tells researchers how the nanoparticle was created and how it will interact in chemical reactions.

The study defined the atomic structures of eight platinum nanoparticles - platinum is the most valuable of the precious metals, used in a number of applications such as catalytic materials for energy storage in fuel cells and petroleum refinement. Even though all of the particles were synthesized in the same batch, they displayed important differences in their atomic structures which affect their performance.

"Now it is possible to experimentally determine the precise 3D structures of nanomaterials that had only been theoretically speculated. The methodology we developed will contribute to fields where nanomaterials are used, such as fuel cells, hydrogen vehicles, and petrochemical synthesis," says Dr. KIM Byung Hyo, the first author of the study. Notably, this methodology can measure the atomic displacement and strain on the surface atoms of individual nanoparticles. The strain analysis from the 3D reconstruction facilitates characterization of the active sites of nanocatalysts at the atomic scale, which will enable structure-based design to improve the catalytic activities. The methodology can also contribute more generally to the enhancement of nanomaterials' performance.

"We have developed a groundbreaking methodology for determining the structures that govern the physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles at the atomic level in their native environment. The methodology will provide important clues in the synthesis of nanomaterials. The algorithm we introduced is related to new drug development through structure analysis of proteins and big data analysis, so we are expecting further application to new convergence research," notes Director HYEON Taeghwan of the IBS Center for Nanoparticle Research.

Tags:  Graphene  Hans Elmlund  Healthcare  HYEON Taeghwan  Institute for Basic Science  nanoparticles 

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Using the UAE’s Abundant Resources of Dates and Sand to Clean Industrial Wastewater

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, April 3, 2020
A KU research team has developed a hybrid material capable of adsorbing pollutants from industrial wastewater using two natural resources of great abundance in the UAE – sand and dates.

Removing pollutants from industrial wastewater safely and affordably is a fundamental concern for governments worldwide. Now, an emerging technology is being explored by researchers at Khalifa University that aims to clean wastewater using two natural resources of great abundance in the UAE – sand and dates.

The KU research team developed a graphene-sand hybrid material capable of adsorbing pollutants, which involves attaching pollutants onto small particles that are then easily removed. While synthesizing graphene-sand adsorbents can be prohibitively expensive, the KU researchers have turned to a previously unused resource – date syrup – to provide the carbon needed to produce the graphene.

“While other routes have been studied, using sugar, for example, as the carbon base for graphene-sand adsorbents, our project aims at utilizing locally available resources for tackling global challenges. As far as we know, we’re the first to use date syrup as a sustainable carbon source,” explained Dr. Fawzi Banat, Professor of Chemical Engineering, at Khalifa University.

Dr. Banat, along with Anjali Edathil, former Research Engineer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Shaihroz Khan, visiting Research Assistant, described the in-situ strategy used to produce the graphene-sand hybrid with date syrup in a paper published in Scientific Reports.

Their adsorbent can be used as an environmentally benign and scalable option for decontaminating wastewater, with the adsorption capacity far surpassing that of similar reported graphene-based adsorbents.

“Water is one of the world’s most valuable resources, and only one percent of the global water supply is available for consumption and domestic use,” explained Dr. Banat. “With augmented urbanization and substantial industrialization activity, enormous amounts of hazardous chemicals are discharged into receiving waters every day. Among the emerging inorganic and organic contaminants, heavy metals and dyes are frequently found in industrial effluents, which, if untreated, become a principal concern to the environment and public health. They are non-biodegradable and tend to accumulate in living organisms.”

Numerous efforts have focused on developing cost-effective and appropriate materials and technologies to regulate the amount of these persistent water pollutants to permissible levels before wastewater is discharged to water bodies. Different treatment technologies have been tested, including photodegradation, precipitation, coagulation, membrane separation, and ion exchange. While all work, they suffer from drawbacks in applicability and cost-effectiveness.

Comparatively, the process of adsorption – where a solid holds molecules of a dissolved solid, liquid or gas on its surface by adhesion – is a relatively mature and versatile method for removing pollutants. Traditionally, carbon-rich materials such as charcoal, soot and biochar are used as adsorbents due to their low costs and high surface areas.

“With the advent of nanotechnology, researchers have explored the use of carbon nanomaterials for water purification, with the hope that it may open new fruitful pathways to curb the existing water shortage,” explained Dr. Banat.

“Graphene has attracted tremendous research interest. Its unique physiochemical and mechanical properties have led to its potential as a revolutionary adsorbent for environmental pollutant management. However, a key barrier in the practicality of pristine graphene nanosheets for water purification is its high cost and post-treatment handling, including recovery after the decontamination process.”

Graphene is a novel 2D, one-atom-thick nanomaterial made of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure. In many cases, such as this one, graphene is organized into sheets a few layers thick rather than existing as a single monolayer. Regardless of organization, however, graphene’s high surface area, combined with its versatile chemistry and highly hydrophobic surface, makes it an ideal adsorbent for removing pollutants. The natural defects and ‘wrinkles’ on its surface act as high-surface-energy adsorption sites for organic pollutants. However, graphene aggregates heavily in water due to the strong forces between the graphene layers.

“To overcome these issues, we can anchor the nanosheets onto an economical and reliable inorganic substrate such as sand,” explained Dr. Banat. “Graphene-sand hybrids not only allow the full expression of the graphene adsorption sites but also ensure dispersibility and easy separation from water.”

Dr. Banat’s research proposes a single-step strategy to develop efficient and eco-friendly graphene sand hybrids using date syrup, a widely available and sustainable carbon source in the Middle East.

Different carbon sources are available in different parts of the world, with several synthetic routes already reported for the preparation of graphene-sand hybrids from sugar, palm sugar, gelatin and asphalt.

Dr. Banat’s team used pyrolysis – the process of chemically decomposing organic materials at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen – to decompose the date syrup, triggering a change of chemical composition and the synthesis of a large volume of graphene material, that subsequently attaches to desert sand without the use of any external chemical agents.

“It is believed that during pyrolysis, the naturally abundant sucrose and fructose molecules in the date syrup undergo complete exfoliation to form graphene nanosheets on the desert sand surface, thereby exposing the powerful adsorption sites concealed in the stacked graphene,” said Dr. Banat.

Dr. Banat’s graphene-sand hybrid adsorbent was tested in the laboratory and showed remarkable efficiency in simultaneously removing both dye and heavy metals from multicomponent systems. The researchers concluded that their adsorbent had great potential as an exceptional material resource of water purification.

“This will undoubtedly open new avenues for the practicability of graphene to curb the existing water shortage,” added Dr. Banat. “We hope our material will help in increasing water resources in the UAE, reducing energy consumption in wastewater treatment processes and be used to convert oily wastewaters from waste to commodity than can be used in applications such as industrial recycling and agriculture.”

Tags:  Environment  Fawzi Banat  Graphene  Khalifa University  nanomaterials 

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Swinburne appoints new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, April 2, 2020

Following an extensive international search, Swinburne’s Professor Bronwyn Fox has been appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise).  

Professor Fox will drive the university’s global research and innovation strategy, focusing on initiatives what will shape our future, drive innovation and create social and economic impact. 

“I thank Bronwyn for the excellent contributions she has already made to Swinburne, and welcome her ambition, passion and expertise in this new role,” says Swinburne’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Linda Kristjanson AO. 

“I have no doubt Bronwyn will take this strategy to the next level, evolving our already unique research innovation ecosystem to deliver on Swinburne’s next chapter of research.”  

Professor Fox started her Swinburne journey in 2015, initially taking on the role of Director, Factory of the Future. In 2016, she was appointed as the Director of the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute, and most recently, she has been acting as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) since the beginning of February. 

Professor Fox has been instrumental in positioning Swinburne at the forefront of manufacturing, building extensively on our Industry 4.0 initiatives and capabilities. She has led a number of significant initiatives and research partnerships through the Manufacturing Futures Research Institute, including: 

world-first technology focused on space age materials to revolutionise the aerospace industry 
establishing the world’s first operational Industry 4.0 Testlab for carbon composite manufacturing 
collaborating with ARENA 2036, a flexible factory of the future on the University of Stuttgart’s Baden-Wuerttemberg campus leading the development, innovation and commercialisation of graphene, as part of the Graphene Supply Chain CRC-P. 

As an internationally recognised expert on carbon fibre and composite materials, Professor Fox is Chair of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (Victorian Division). She is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2018 Professor Fox was awarded the GCMM Research Leadership Award at the 14th Global Congress on Manufacturing and Management. 

Tags:  Bronwyn Fox  Graphene  Linda Kristjanson  Swinburne University of Technology 

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Graphene Technology Company PlanarTECH Partners with Thailand’s IDEATI to Market Graphene-Enhanced Bullet-Proof Armour

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, April 2, 2020
UK-based planarTECH Ltd is pleased to announce an agreement with Thailand-based IDEATI Co Ltd. to market and distribute its 2AMTM line of graphene-enhanced bullet-proof vest and ballistic plate products for body armour.

According to a recent report from market research firm Grand View Research, Inc., “The global body armor market size is expected to reach USD 3.0 billion by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 5.5% over the forecast period. The evolution of warfare has largely become asymmetric in nature and includes counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. Similar scenarios exist in the law enforcement sectors, wherein felons, criminals, and law offenders are capable of fatally injuring responding officers, thus necessitating the demand for body armor equipment.”

IDEATI’s 2AMTM products are now in mass production for delivery to the Royal Thai Army, which has certified the products per National Institute of Justice (NIJ) standards. International testing is now underway. Minimum order quantity is 1,000 units with a lead time of 90 to 120 days.

We recognize planarTECH as a leader in the graphene industry and looking forward to using its international network to enhance our own sales efforts starting with a revolutionary bullet-proof vest.”— Ted P. Thirapatana, Director of IDEATI states

2AM™ material is a patent-pending Graphene+UHMWPE (Ultra-High-Molecular-Weight PolyEthylene) composite that leverages the strength enhancing characteristics of graphene to create ultra-lightweight body armour. 2AMTM product A-10418, for example, is currently the thinnest (20mm) and lightest (1.8kg) NIJ Level IV standalone plate available on the market. Moreover, the addition graphene to the composite can reduce backface deformation to just 11.3 mm.

Patrick Frantz, Founder & CEO of planarTECH commented,
“planarTECH has been involved in the development of 2AMTM technology from its inception and we’re very pleased to see that it has finally achieved commercial viability and become a commercial product for sale in the market. We want to support the sales of this technology through our own networks and are already actively engaging potential customers in the USA, UK, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India and China. We also believe that this technology has other applications beyond personal body armour, which we are currently exploring.”

Ted P. Thirapatana, Director of IDEATI states,
“We are very proud to have co-developed this cutting-edge graphene technology in Thailand and that our 2AMTMlight-weight bullet-proof material for ballistics and high-impact applications is now ready for sale in the global market. We recognize planarTECH as a leader in the graphene industry and we’re looking forward to using its international network to enhance our own sales efforts starting with a revolutionary bullet-proof vest.”

Tags:  Grand View Research  Graphene  IDEATI Co Ltd  Patrick Frantz  planarTECH  PolyEthylene  Ted P. Thirapatana 

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AI finds 2D materials in the blink of an eye

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, April 2, 2020
Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science, a part of The University of Tokyo, demonstrated a novel artificial intelligence system that can find and label 2D materials in microscope images in the blink of an eye. This work can help shorten the time required for 2D material-based electronics to be ready for consumer devices.

Two-dimensional materials offer an exciting new platform for the creation of electronic devices, such as transistors and light-emitting diodes. The family of crystals that can be made just one atom thick include metals, semiconductors, and insulators. Many of these are stable under ambient conditions, and their properties often different significantly from those of their 3D counterparts. Even stacking a few layers together can alter the electronic characteristics to make them suitable for next-generation batteries, smartphone screens, detectors, and solar cells. And perhaps even more amazing: you can make some yourself using office supplies. The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the realization that atomically thin "graphene" can be obtained by exfoliating piece of pencil lead, graphite, with a piece of sticky scotch tape.

So, what keeps you from making your own electronic devices at work between meetings? Unfortunately, the atomically thin 2D crystals have low fabrication yields and their optical contrasts comprise a very broad range, and finding them under a microscope is a tedious job.

Now, a team led by The University of Tokyo has succeeded in automating this task using machine learning. The used many labeled examples with various lighting to train the computer to detect the outline and thickness of the flakes without having to fine tune the microscope parameters. "By using machine learning instead of conventional rule-based detection algorithms, our system was robust to changing conditions," says first author Satoru Masubuchi.

The method is generalizable to many other 2D materials, sometimes without needing any addition data. In fact, the algorithm was able to detect tungsten diselenide and molybdenum diselenide flakes just by being trained with tungsten ditelluride examples. With the ability to determine, in less than 200 milliseconds, the location and thickness of the exfoliated samples, the system can be integrated with a motorized optical microscope.

"The automated searching and cataloging of 2D materials will allow researchers to test a large number of samples simply by exfoliating and running the automated algorithm," senior author Tomoki Machida says. "This will greatly speed the development cycle of new electronic devices based on 2D materials, as well as advance the study of superconductivity and ferromagnetism in 2D, where there is no long-range order."

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  optoelectronics  Satoru Masubuchi  The University of Tokyo  Tomoki Machida 

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Edison Investment Research for Applied Graphene Materials

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Edison have been engaged by Applied Graphene Materials to provide investment intelligence to support its capital markets activity.

In the recently completed Investment Research, Edison put together a QuickView, a snippet of which can be found below:

In October 2019 Applied Graphene’s (AGM’s) management announced it was re-aligning resources around dispersion and application technology to better support product development with customers presenting the nearest-term revenue opportunities.

This focus supported six customer launches of coating products containing AGM’s graphene dispersion during calendar year 2019. These launches are for both mass-market and specialist applications. As a result of the ensuing uptick in product sales, revenues so far for FY20 are already 20% higher than the whole of FY19.

Tags:  Applied Graphene Materials  Edison Group  Graphene 

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An Up & Coming Winner in the Graphite Market

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Graphite is one of the most robust emerging resource markets in recent times. There is ample opportunity to get in with one Click to enlargejunior mining Company, which has persevered in making profound headway towards production on its Graphite asset in Namibia.

Gratomic Inc. is an advanced mining and exploration Company, focused on mine-to-market commercialization of graphite and graphite products. GRAT is distinct among its peers – it is an organization rapidly evolving from a junior to a fully commercialized mining Company. This is an important distinction in a market that has seen countless others try and fail. Gratomic has worked hard to move towards commercializing its assets in order to maximize shareholder value, which will allow for future growth.

GRAT’s flagship property, the Aukam Graphite Mine, is located in the mining-friendly jurisdiction of Namibia and is the only historical commercial graphite mine in the country. The property hosts a very unique high-grade vein-graphite which is easily processed into graphite concentrates of 97% + Cg without the aid of chemical or acid treatment, exhibiting the raw organic purity.

Gratomic was recently awarded a letter of preparedness by the Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy to grant the Company its mining license (ML215). Where most companies would only start mine construction at this point in time, Gratomic has been able to complete 90% of construction of the Aukam Processing plant to date. This has been fully facilitated through equity financing without the accumulation of debt vehicles, which is a rare feat in this industry.

Gratomic is entering into a new phase of existence and is working to scale-up its operations to fulfill the first off-take and purchase orders with its key partners. Its graphite concentrate contains no sulphides, demonstrating the high quality and purity of the raw mineral. Gratomic is ready to capitalize on the market, which should be rewarding given that graphite sells anywhere from $1,500 - $3,000 per tonne, depending on purity and flake size distribution.

Leadership Highlights:

This dynamic Company has strategically structured a leadership team and Board of Directors that will add value and allow the Company to capitalize on the strengths of each individual. Just recently, Arno Brand has taken on the full role of President and CEO. With a decade of experience in the mining, financing and commodity brokering combined with his first-hand expertise and knowledge of Namibia, Brand is the ideal CEO candidate for Gratomic.

Gratomic has experienced several additional changes including the departure of Jackson Inwentash and Gerry Feldmand from the Board of Directors. The two new directors are Walter Luke and Alex Helmel. Walter Luke has a background in compliance regulations, telecommunications, and project management. Alex Helmel is an independent management consultant working with early stage venture companies. Each new Director brings experience and expertise, which will be beneficial to the team at Gratomic.

Finally, Mr. Ian Flint has officially rejoined the Gratomic team as the Mining and Processing Engineer. He had previously been an advisor to the Board, but the team is thrilled to have him on board and filling both roles. His knowledge and expertise in this industry is a valuable asset to have.

The Aukam Graphite Mine:

Located close to the Namibian port of Luderitz Bay, the Aukam property covers a historical vein graphite mine that consists of five adits and an open pit. The Company has conducted preliminary work over the last five years to better understand the quality and distribution of the graphite mineralization buried within. The team has come away with the understanding, through recent drilling initiatives, that there is significant potential to expand the mineralization beyond the old workings.

The Company has traced graphite occurrences over a 15 km strike length at surface and anticipates an aggressive drilling campaign, using its own drills, to unlock the potential resource that resides within.

For an in-depth look at what the project has to offer, the Company has offered a 2016 technical report on the Aukam Graphite deposit here. The Company is currently putting together an updated technical report including the operating costs of running the mine and processing plant.

In October 2019; Gratomic reported that it had completed the crushing and grinding circuit at the Aukam mine, with a capacity of up to 50 metric tonnes per hour. During the buildout, the Company also installed and set up the mine’s rougher, cleaner and scavenger flotation columns. The cumulative capacity of the columns combined with the rougher mixing tank and slurry line is initially 2.7 tonnes per hour.

Gratomic Inc. has put 178 tonnes of product through the existing pilot plant, which systematically increased the mineral’s grade to the commercially desirable 95% - 98% Cg (Carbon in Graphite) level. The team indicated that it could upgrade this material even further through air classification to over 99% Cg. Once the build-out is complete, the Company anticipates achieving production of 20,000 tonnes per annum.

With concentrates averaging 98.6%, Gratomic’s CEO Arno Brand stated in an interview with Stockhouse Editorial, that upscaling the graphite past 99% purity would not be a challenge, given the quality of the material coming out of the Aukam mine. He added that it would only take a few added steps of upgrading to get it to that level.

Namibia at a glance:

CEO Brand stated that the country’s government is very mining friendly and very pro-investor. It only took a swift two years for the Company to go from junior explorer to sitting on the verge of being a full mining operation.

Gratomic is in an advantageous situation with the Namibian government, as the Company adheres to stringent environmental standards. The Aukam mine is one of the few graphite projects around and the only one to have historical production on its side.

Demand for Africa’s graphite supply is surging, and many nations are ramping up their production to meet the increased demand from China for a variety of applications, most notably battery material for electric vehicles, laptops and tablets. According to data compiled by Roskill, during the first half of 2019 natural graphite exports from Africa to China rose by more than 170%.

Summary:

Through the accomplishment of key milestones, Gratomic will become fully vertically integrated. Brand outlines below the five major steps necessary to attain this advantageous juncture.

1.Obtain mining license
2. Complete construction
3. Initiate full production
4. Fulfill orders
5. Branch out graphene business into added-value manufacturing

Accomplishing these milestones takes money, time and effort when attempting to build something of tangible value. Investors looking to capitalize on the graphite market should consider the Gratomic proposition for its long-game strategy, its unique operational jurisdiction, and the fact that this investment won’t be undervalued for long.

CEO Quote:

It has been a long road to get to where we are today, our hard work and efforts are shortly to be rewarded as we take the final steps to bring Aukam into Production – Arno Brand, President and CEO.

Tags:  Alex Helmel  Arno Brand  Graphene  Graphite  Gratomic 

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Nanomaterials manufacture during COVID-19 disruption

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Graphene Council encourages members to join a webinar delivered by Nanotech Industry Association (NIA) Member Cerion to understand planning and implementation of nanomaterials manufacture during COVID-19 disruption.

About this Event

COVID-19 has changed the way that businesses and the world are operating and looking towards the future. Questions like: “How do I adapt to this rapidly-changing environment?” and “How do I plan for when the economy returns?” are top of mind for us all right now.

Join us along with NIA member Cerion Nanomaterials to discuss the practical steps you can take to get your business through these challenging times, no matter what phase of the outbreak curve you are experiencing.

The discussion will include an analysis of the current outbreak projections, some key triggers you should keep in mind when planning your strategy, along with how to keep employees safe that are still working (in the lab, manufacturing or business operations) -- as well as, developing a plan for when everyone returns to work.

Tags:  Cerion Nanomaterials  Graphene  nanomaterials 

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AMD announces appointment of Dr Anthony Thomson to Advisory Panel and CEO to Life Science subsidiary, CoM3D

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 31, 2020

AMD is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Anthony Thomson MSc MBA PhD FRSM to its Advisory Panel to advise on IP commercialisation. In addition, he will also take on the role of CEO of Life Science subsidiary company CoM3D which is working in conjunction with our partners at the University of Texas at Austin under the guidance of Dr Mohammed Maniruzzaman.

Anthony held numerous leadership roles in technology, automotive, health, capital markets and University sectors and has led the formation, growth and exit of several businesses including corporate ventures and University spin-outs, most recently managing a successful exit to US giant, Qualcomm.

AMD CEO John Lee says, “I have known Anthony several years and have sought his valuable guidance several times in the history of our company – I look forward to his growing involvement in our day to day business and especially in the application of his skills to the development of CoM3D”.

In addition to his work with AMD and COM3D, Anthony is also a Non-Exec director of a number of high growth SMEs across diverse sectors including Cyber Security, IT and Digital Transformation, Built Environment, Retail and Healthcare. His leadership roles include CBO of Elephants Child Advisory, Chief Strategy Officer at Isansys Lifecare and various senior roles at Qualcomm; University of Auckland; Euronext; ABN AMRO; BNP Paribas; LIFFE and Chesterton.

Anthony has an MSc and a PhD from the University of Otago (NZ) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. His strategic business skills are also recognised with an MBA from Cranfield School of Management where his thesis received the Deans Prize for its insight into commercialisation strategies for University technology. He has also completed the Proteus Leadership Programme at London Business School.

Tags:  Anthony Thomson  Applied Graphene Materials  COM3D  Graphene  John Lee 

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Versarien PLC - China Update

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Versarien plc the advanced materials engineering group, is pleased to provide an update on its progress in China, previously announced on 15 April 2019 and referenced in more recent Company announcements including those on 9 August 2019, 24 September 2019, 12 December 2019 and 25 February 2020.

Versarien Graphene (Hong Kong) Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Versarien has signed a joint venture agreement ("Agreement") with Young-Graphene (Beijing) Technology Company Limited ("YG"). YG has appointed the Secretary General of the China International Graphene Industry Union ("CIGIU") to act for it in this matter and is supported by both CIGIU and Beijing Institute of Graphene Technology Co. Ltd ("BIGT"). Versarien's wholly foreign owned enterprise (Beijing Versarien Technology Co., Ltd. ("BVT")) will become the joint venture company with YG for the development of its activities in China ("PRC").

Key Highlights (to be read in conjunction with further details set out below):

· Agreement signed with YG to form a 50%-owned Chinese Joint Venture (the "Joint Venture" or "JV") for the development of applications for Versarien's technologies in the region.

· RMB1 million (c.£121,000) initial investment each by Versarien and YG over the next 12 months subject to certain milestones.

· The Joint Venture will have exclusive use of Versarien's technologies in the PRC. Versarien will retain rights to its existing technologies and intellectual property, with newly developed intellectual property being retained by the JV and/or the end users.

· Agreement includes, and is contingent on, a commitment by YG to procure subscription for Versarien ordinary shares from third parties in three tranches, which in aggregate will total up to 15% of Company's current issued share capital ("Versarien Share Subscriptions").

· Half of any gross funds raised in these subscriptions will be committed to investment in the JV's activities in the PRC.

· Any investment remains subject to, inter alia, further due diligence and agreeing acceptable terms and there can be no certainty that any of these subscriptions will occur.   

Summary of Main Terms (such terms to be governed by the laws of the PRC)

· YG and VGHK will each subscribe to an increase in the share capital of BVT, in an amount of RMB1 million (approximately £121,000) each so that VGHK and YG shall each hold 50% of BVT's registered share capital. BVT will retain its name as Beijing Versarien Technology Co., Ltd ("BVT"). The capital contribution to BVT by YG shall be paid in cash instalments within one year according to the business needs of BVT. The capital contribution to BVT by VGHK of RMB1 million shall be paid in cash within thirty days of either: (i) Versarien receiving technology license fees, technical service fees or other income totaling no less than RMB35 million (approximately £4.2 million) from the Head Licence agreement referred to below; or (ii) Versarien receiving the first equity investment tranche arising from a placing of 5% of its issued share capital to investors to be procured by YG (see below for further details).

·Versarien will introduce to the PRC the graphene technologies owned or developed by Versarien (the "Versarien Technologies") initially through the Graphene Seed Incubation Park located in Beijing.

· Versarien will grant exclusivity to BVT for the use and promotion of the Versarien Technologies in the PRC providing certain terms are met in relation to a placing of new ordinary shares of Versarien.

· Once an end user or third-party collaborator of Versarien's technologies in the PRC (the "End User") is identified by BVT, Versarien and BVT shall jointly discuss and negotiate the terms of a technology license to or collaboration with the End User. Once all the terms and conditions of the use of Versarien Technologies are finalised by the relevant parties, Versarien shall enter into a technology license or collaboration agreement with BVT (the "Head License Agreement") in order for BVT to sub-license the Versarien Technologies to, or further collaborate with, the End User, under a separate agreement entered into with the End User (the "Sub-License Agreement").

· The terms and conditions of the Head License Agreement and those of the Sub-License Agreement shall be the same except that the license fees (including related technical service fees) under the Head License Agreement shall be 70% of the license fees under the Sub-License Agreement. The remaining 30% of the license fees under the Sub-License Agreement will be retained by BVT to fund its operating and management costs.

· Versarien will remain the owner of existing Versarien Technologies intellectual property licensed to the End User under the Head License Agreement and Sub-License Agreement. Any new technologies or new intellectual property generated during the process of promotion and industrialisation of Versarien Technologies by BVT shall belong to BVT or jointly belong to BVT and the End Users.

Equity Investment in Versarien

The Agreement also sets out the conditional heads of terms for a staged equity investment in Versarien on the following terms. In particular:

·The Joint Venture is conditional on Versarien receiving a strategic equity investment of up to 15% of its current issued share capital in three equal instalments with a long-stop date of 30 June 2021. Within five business days after receiving each instalment of subscription proceeds for the Versarien Share Subscriptions, Versarien will remit 50% of the gross proceeds of the subscription to a Graphene Fund to be managed for the benefit of BVT.

·The equity subscriptions set out above are expressly conditional on any investor being allowed to conduct customary and proper due diligence on Versarien and the due diligence findings being materially consistent with all the public disclosures made by Versarien; and on the terms and conditions of the equity subscription agreements (other than the subscription price) being standard and customary for similar transactions in the United Kingdom.

·It should be noted that no party has committed to acquire any new shares in the Company or underwrite any equity fundraising pursuant to the Versarien Share Subscriptions and there can be no certainty that any of these subscriptions will occur.

·The execution of definitive agreements to complete each stage of the equity subscription will depend on a number of other practical factors, including:

o  Due diligence;

o  Identification of an appropriate investor;

o  Versarien confirming certainty of the proposed investor's funding; and

o  If the ultimate investor once identified proposes funding from within mainland China, such funding is likely to be subject to PRC currency exchange controls.

Backstop Arrangements

· If Versarien has not received income under the Head License Agreement totaling RMB 35 million (approximately £4.2 million) within twenty-four months of issue of the Joint Venture business licence VGHK shall be entitled to purchase from YG its entire equity interest in BVT at a nominal price of RMB10 (approximately £1) and YG shall accept such purchase of its equity interest.

·  If YG fails to procure a definitive agreement for Versarien for the first Versarien Share Subscription due by 30 June 2020, Versarien shall be entitled to purchase from YG all its equity interest in BVT at the nominal price of RMB10 (approximately £1) and YG shall accept such purchase of its equity interest.

Commenting on the Agreement, Neill Ricketts, Chief Executive Officer of Versarien, said: "Despite the impact of Covid-19 around the world, the Company has been able to continue to make progress on executing its strategy in China, as illustrated with the confirmation of this joint venture agreement. As highlighted in our February 2020 update, discussions are continuing to facilitate an equity investment in Versarien."  

Tags:  Beijing Institute of Graphene Technology  Graphene  Neill Ricketts  Versarien  Young-Graphene Beijing Technology Ltd 

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