Advanced materials company First Graphene has appointed Andy Goodwin as non-executive director and senior scientific advisor, and Paul Ladislaus as chief technology officer. Dr Goodwin joined First Graphene in 2017, initially as a technical advisor before becoming chief technology officer in September 2018.
Mr Ladislaus joined the company in November 2018 as senior process engineer and has since led manufacturing process upgrades, product quality programmes and R&D projects in rubber, plastics and supercapacitor technologies.
Versarien plc the advanced materials engineering group, is pleased to announce that the Company has been awarded a legally binding £5 million loan facility ("the Loan") by Innovate UK Loans Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of UK Research and Innovation.
Innovate UK has been running an extended pilot innovation loans programme over the past three years with £75 million committed to the scheme with normal loan amounts of up to £1million. The innovation loans are targeted at UK small or medium-sized enterprises (SME) that want to scale up and grow by developing new or improved products, processes or services, as well as late-stage research and development projects that have not yet reached the point of commercialisation.
The UK Government, via Innovate UK, has agreed to the provision of the £5 million Loan to Versarien, the first of such magnitude by Innovate UK specifically for a project named G SCALE, (an acronym for Graphene-Seat, Concrete, Arch, Leisure, Elastomer) which is designed to enable Versarien to significantly increase its manufacture of quality assured graphene.
The award of the loan, which occurred on 1 July 2020, follows a rigorous process of innovation assessment and is intended to facilitate the production of sufficient quantities of graphene by Versarien to enable market supply of commercial quantities of graphene-enhanced materials.
Loan repayments will commence 45 months after drawdown and be paid over a subsequent period of 36 months. The Loan attracts at an interest rate of 7.4% per annum with half of the interest deferred until the repayment period commences. The loan includes normal commercial financial covenants, together with certain operational covenants designed for UK IP protection.
The loan will be available for drawdown following perfection of normal commercial security arrangements in eight quarterly tranches, the first of which drawdowns is expected within the next month. Further, details concerning the Loan will be provided upon the completion of security documentation, which will be announced in due course.
Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien, commented: "Versarien is delighted to have been awarded this loan by Innovate UK, which acknowledges the work we are undertaking and advancements made Our vision for the business also sits within the context of the UK government's industrial strategy 'Grand Challenges', which is focused on clean growth, the ageing society, AI and the data economy and the future of mobility. The loan will help Versarien step up its graphene production capacity so that we can expedite the commercial adoption of graphene enhanced materials"
An electrode has been developed that will greatly improve the stability of the “Perovskite Solar Cell”, which is attracting attention as a next-generation solar cell due to its high efficiency and low cost. This is because transparent, flexible and highly conductive graphene is inserted to prevent the decomposition of the metal electrode used in the past.
A research team, led by Professor Hyesung Park in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST has developed a high-performance metal-based flexible transparent electrode with an interlayer of graphene. By using graphene with excellent impermeability, the metal-induced decomposition phenomenon, which has been identified as a chronic problem of metal-electrode-based perovskite solar cells, was suppressed to significantly improve stability. In addition, the efficiency and mechanical stability of the perovskite solar cell were significantly increased by using graphene’s excellent electrical conductivity and mechanical durability.
A transparent and electron-transfer electrode is included in the’photoelectric device’ that converts light energy into electrical energy (solar cell) or converts electrical energy into light energy (display device). Until now, metal oxide-based electrodes (ITO) were used, but they were hard and easily broken, making them difficult to apply to wearable devices. In particular, when this electrode is applied to a perovskite solar cell, there is a problem that the halogen element contained in the perovskite (photoactive layer) moves toward the metal oxide and the metal electrode and the photoactive layer are decomposed simultaneously.
The research team solved this issue by inserting a graphene layer. Graphene has high electrical conductivity and allows electrons to pass through well, but it has an’impermeability’ that prevents atoms from moving. When graphene is inserted as an intermediate layer between the metal transparent electrode and the perovskite photoactive layer, electrons (charges) flow well but halogen elements cannot move. In addition, graphene itself is transparent and flexible, so it is also suitable for use as an electrode for photoelectric devices.
The research team applied a “metal-graphene hybrid flexible transparent electrode” with an interlayer of graphene to perovskite solar cells. The perovskite solar cell made in this way had a photoelectric conversion efficiency of 16.4% and maintained over 97.5% of the initial efficiency even after 1,000 hours. In addition, after 5,000 bending tests, it showed excellent mechanical durability such as maintaining 94% of the initial efficiency, and thus it was applicable to next-generation wearable devices.
“The new method of inserting graphene interlayer has significantly improved the efficiency and stability of the perovskite solar cells,” says Professor Park. “We expected that this will greatly help in the development of various next-generation flexible photovoltaic devices based on perovskite, such as LEDs and smart sensors, as well as solar cells.”
Leading Edge Materials announces the participation of its subsidiary Woxna Graphite AB in the newly launched research project “Graphite and graphene as battery electrodes” (the “Project”) which is part of the Vinnova funded competence centre Batteries Sweden (“BASE”).
The Project will research the utilization of natural graphite for battery applications through determination of functionality of the natural graphite in batteries, the addition of silicon to the graphite particles, long-term stability and characterization and optimization of the surface chemistry. The latter will look at innovative technologies for tailoring of the surface chemistry by for example surface coatings, covalent functionalization and artificial Solid Electrolyte Interphases.
BASE was created as an alliance for ultrahigh performance batteries with a long-term vision to address the energy storage challenges associated with the transition to a fossil-free society by developing new types of lightweight, inexpensive, sustainable and safe ultra-high-energy storage batteries. The competence centre, coordinated by the Ångström Laboratory and the renowned battery scientist Professor Kristina Edström at Uppsala University, was granted SEK 34,000,000 in funding by the Swedish governmental innovation agency Vinnova. The partners of BASE are leading Swedish academic institutions and industrial companies spanning the battery value chain; Uppsala University, Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, ABB, Volvo, Altris, Comsol, Graphmatech, Insplorion, Northvolt, SAFT, Scania, Stena Recycling, Volvo Cars and Woxna Graphite. (https://www.batteriessweden.se/)
Filip Kozlowski, CEO states “Being part of this project is a great opportunity for Woxna Graphite to contribute to the long-term vision of the Batteries Sweden alliance. Being able to supply natural graphite from Sweden could enable sustainable high-performance battery materials of the future. One of the focus areas, surface modification of spherical purified natural graphite is a key area of innovation to enable improved performance and cycle life for lithium-ion battery anodes.”
Woxna Graphite AB is the owner of one of the western world’s few permitted and fully built graphite mines, located in central Sweden near the town of Edsbyn. The Woxna graphite mine and production facility is comprised of four graphite deposits each with a mining lease, an open pit mine, a processing plant and tailings dam, located close to the town of Edsbyn, Sweden. Due to market conditions for traditional graphite markets the operation has been kept on a production-ready basis. Ongoing development is directed towards test work focused on the possible production and modification of high purity graphite using thermal purification technologies for emerging high growth high value markets, one such example being the lithium-ion battery industry. Other potential high-value end-markets being investigated are purified micronized graphite for metallurgical and electroconductive additives and purified large flake graphite as a precursor for the production of expandable graphite suitable as a feed for graphite foils and fuel cell bipolar plates. The purification and modification of natural graphite is very energy intensive and having access to low cost low carbon footprint hydropower offers the potential to become a market leader in terms of sustainability.
Photocathodes that produce electron beams for electron microscopes and advanced accelerators can be refreshed and rebuilt repeatedly without opening the devices that rely on them, provided the electron emitting materials are deposited on single-atom-thick layers of carbon known as graphene, according to a new study published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.
“The machines that rely on these electron emitters typically operate under high vacuum,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist Hisato Yamaguchi. “By choosing graphene over materials like silicon or molybdenum, which tend to degrade during use, we can clean the substrate and redeposit electron-emitting materials without opening the vacuum. This can dramatically reduce downtime and labor involved in replacing photocathodes.”
The researchers studied photocathodes made of cesium potassium antimonide, which efficiently emit electrons when illuminated with high-power, green laser light. The photocathode efficiency falls with use, and the photocathodes must be either replaced or renewed with the electron-emitting material baked off and replaced in situ. When the researchers renewed photocathodes on substrates of silicon or molybdenum, which are common materials for such devices, the photocathode performance degraded with each cycle. Following the same procedure with graphene serving as the substrate resulted in uniformly high electron emission, time and time again.
The researchers proposed that the resilience of photocathodes deposited on graphene surfaces was due to weaker binding between the emitter atoms and the underlying carbon layer. Numerical calculations based on the material properties of the emitters and graphene were consistent with the hypothesis.
The authors concluded their study by stating, “Our results provide a foundation for graphene-based, reusable substrates for high [quantum efficiency] semiconductor photocathodes.”
Zen Graphene Solutions Ltd. is pleased to announce the closing of the first tranche of its previously announced private placement of units (the “Offering”). The Company raised gross proceeds of $1,077,294.80 under the Offering, which will be used to fund ongoing work on the Albany Graphite Project including graphene research and scale up, COVID-19 initiatives and other graphene applications development and for general corporate purposes. A second tranche is expected to close shortly in line with previous interest received and reported in the news release of June 17th 2020. The Board of directors wishes to thank all the long-term shareholders and new shareholders who participated in the Offering.
The Offering consisted of the issuance of 1,795,491 units (“Units”) at a price of $0.60 per Unit, for aggregate gross proceeds of $1,077,294.80. Each Unit consisted of one common share of the Company (“Common Share”) and one half of one non-transferable share purchase warrant (“Warrant”). Each whole Warrant will entitle the holder thereof to acquire one additional Common Share at an exercise price of $0.80 per Warrant, exercisable for a period of twenty-four months from the closing of the Offering (the “Exercise Period”).
All Warrants issued in connection with the Offering are subject to an acceleration clause. If the Company’s share price trades at or above $1.00 per share for a period of ten (10) consecutive trading days during the Exercise Period, the Company may accelerate the expiry date of the Warrants to 30 calendar days from the date on which written notice is given by the Company to the holders of the Warrants. The Common Shares and the Warrants issued in connection with the Offering will be subject to a hold period until October 27, 2020 in accordance with applicable securities laws.
First Graphene Limited, the world’s largest manufacturer of graphene products, today confirmed that its trademark, PureGRAPH® has successfully been accepted in the United States.
The development means that Australian produced graphene powder is well placed to open the door to the lucrative North American market.
The Company, which produces graphene, derived from graphite and a crystalline form of carbon, now has its exclusive intellectual property registered in six countries. The Company is the largest graphene producer in the world and the leader in quality graphene.
With the trademark awaiting approvals in a further three global jurisdictions, First Graphene Managing Director, Craig McGuckin, says that gaining acceptance in the United States is a major strategic achievement.
“As we continue to scale and enhance the processing capability of graphene, the commercial interest continues to grow across a diverse number of manufacturing sectors,” said Mr McGuckin.
“To have achieved official registration and protection of our trademark in the United States, gives us a strong foundation to proactively target new contracts in this large and significant market.”
Graphene has made steady progress since being discovered by two Nobel scientists in 2004, with growing demand in the energy, mining, textile and construction sectors. First Graphene is the enabler for the commercialisation of graphene, through addressing the supply shortage and setting the standard for quality.
First Graphene produces the product at its factory in Henderson, south west of Perth from where it exports to a global market. First Graphene’s PureGRAPH® trademark is now registered or protected in the United States of America, Australia, China, New Zealand, European Union and United Kingdom.
Haydale is pleased to announce that, further to a successful Phase 1 collaboration agreement announced on 1 March 2018 in the Interim Results, a Phase 2 collaboration agreement (the “Agreement”) has now been signed between Haydale Technologies (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (“HTT”) and IRPC Public Company Limited (“IRPC”). The Agreement is for IRPC to develop transparent graphene and functionalized acetylene black conductive inks for RFID, NFC and related applications.
The sustainable process sees Haydale functionalise IRPC’s acetylene black product to create the organic RFID ink. The success of this collaboration is expected to pave the way to numerous opportunities in printed electronic applications and be more environmentally friendly than existing inks. The RFID printer market is expected to be a significant market with the global market expected to reach approximately USD 4.82 billion by the end of 2023.
Under the Agreement IRPC will pay an upfront fee to Haydale following signing of contract, with a second payment following submission of the final report.
Dr. Roman Strauss, Vice President at IRPC, said: “This is very exciting and challenging at the same time for IRPC considering our core business in refinery and petrochemicals. However, working closely with Haydale will enable us to capture great opportunity in IoT megatrend.”
Keith Broadbent, Haydale CEO, added: “It is great to see this collaboration progress to phase 2. Our development in the area of RFID antenna is gaining real traction globally and making significant steps towards commercialisation. The RFID marketing is an ideal opportunity for Haydale’s unique solution.”
A team of scientists led by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley has demonstrated a powerful new technique that uses light to measure how electrons move and interact within materials. With this technique, the researchers observed exotic states of matter in stacks of atomically thin semiconductors called transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) moiré superlattices.
Their study, which was published in the journal Nature, is the first to prove that interactions between electrons play a significant role in how charge flows in TMD moiré superlattices.
“Moiré superlattices provide a unique method for introducing exotic electronic behavior in materials where they don’t typically exist,” said lead author Emma Regan, a doctoral researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and the UC Berkeley physics department. “Understanding and engineering electronic behavior in quantum materials may provide new approaches for electronic devices in the future.”
In most materials, electrons move fast and rarely interact. But in previous studies, other researchers have shown that a moiré superlattice – which creates an energy landscape for electrons – can slow the electrons down enough that they feel interactions between each other.
“We suspected that these electron-electron interactions in TMD moiré superlattices are very strong – even stronger than what you would find in stacks of graphene,” said Regan.
Typically, physicists investigate electron-electron interactions by attaching wires to a material and measuring how easily electrical current flows. But in stacks of TMDs, electrons don’t flow easily between the wires and the material, which makes it difficult to understand how the electrons interact.
So the researchers turned to light instead.
The research team, led by senior author Feng Wang, fabricated the TMD moiré superlattice from atomically thin layers of tungsten diselenide and tungsten disulfide – two common semiconductors known for their ability to efficiently absorb and emit light. They then formed a device just 25 nanometers (25 billionths of a meter) thick by sandwiching the tungsten diselenide/tungsten disulfide moiré superlattice between boron nitride and graphene.
In Wang’s ultrafast nano-optics lab, the researchers shone lasers on the TMD device to observe how electrons flowed in the superlattice as they varied the number of electrons injected into the material. Wang is a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and professor of physics at UC Berkeley.
The International Business Consultancy Project is the capstone of the Full-time MBA. Our MBAs work in multinational teams to pitch for a client with a global business challenge, then undertake three months of full-time consultancy with international travel. This year, one team worked with the University's Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) to identify new opportunities in the energy storage market.
Graphene was first isolated in 2004 by two researchers at The University of Manchester, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov. Andre and Kostya won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering work. Graphene is the lightest, most conductable material on earth with potential applications across many fields - from medicine to energy. The project took our MBAs overseas to Germany, France, the USA and India. We caught up with them to find out more.
Why did you choose this client brief?
The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) is an R&D facility at The University of Manchester, which focuses on driving the commercialisation of graphene and other 2D materials. The project aimed to provide a strategic market study to find potential market opportunities for GEIC in the Energy Storage Device (ESD) space (supercapacitors and batteries in particular).
We chose this project because it was very comprehensive: it included market research, partnership identification, financial modelling and projection. The team members could therefore utilise their different skill sets to contribute to the project. In addition, the energy storage device industry presented a new market for the team to explore and develop knowledge of.
How did you approach the brief?
The team used a 'bottom-up' approach instead of the traditional 'top down' methodology to analyse the key findings and provide recommendations. This idea came from our supervisor, Dr. Mike Arundale, who gave us a lot of support during the project. To be specific, the team produced a detailed case study of one specific company for each market segment, then made a projection for that segment and finally analysed the whole industry.
Which countries did you travel to and why?
Based on the secondary research, the team identified the USA, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Germany and France as the potential markets for GEIC to focus on and explore future partnership opportunities in. 45 interviews were held across Germany, France, the USA, China and India between February 6 and March 13, 2020.
Due to the unexpected Coronavirus situation, in the end the team was only able to travel to the USA, India, Germany and France. This meant that 30 of the interviews were held face-to-face and 15 were conducted by conference call with Chinese, Japanese and South Korean companies.
What was the biggest challenge and what was the biggest achievement?
"At the initial stage, the biggest challenge was understanding the technical information and benefits of graphene. The biggest achievement was that we were able to understand the industry and reach the goal of finding potential partnerships for the client. It was a collaborative effort." - Lissete Flores, Peruvian
"The most challenging task was getting connections for primary research. My project was to search for partnerships for the client in three major markets: the USA, Europe and India. As we needed to build connections from scratch for face-to-face interviews or site visits, my team discussed how to ‘tackle’ interviewees strategically with the best professional practice in order to build professional relationships and get appointments for in-person interviews."
"The biggest achievement was reaching out to potential partners for our client. Since our client's business is based on the licensing fee from partners, the potential deals are red blood being pumped to the heart of the business." - Pann Boonyavanich, Thai
"The biggest challenges were developing a good technical understanding of graphene as a 2D material and its numerous applications, which span multiple industries, and understanding the advantages of graphene and how it can be used in real-life applications. These elements were key to delivering the commercial aspects of the project. This became further challenging because the technology is quite nascent and there is not a lot of in-depth information available on the internet, which resulted in the team having to rely mostly on primary research."
"The biggest achievement was the team being able to successfully navigate the uncertainty brought on by the Covid-19 crisis and deliver on all the deliverables outlined in the project." - Ritwick Mukherjee, Indian
"For me, the biggest challenge was finding the relevant people to interview, getting them to agree to an interview and then fitting this into our travelling window. Some people were on annual leave and some could not meet with us for reasons related to Covid-19. Others did not reply till we were actually in the US, and a couple of companies worked with the US military and therefore most of their operational information was classified. Pann and I were on the east coast of the US and had to manage travelling and interviews in Boston, New York, Tennessee, Detroit and Chicago. Memorable journeys to interview potential partners include taking four flights in one day (a round trip from New York to Tennessee); and driving for six hours through a snowstorm to get to an interview in Chicago."
"The biggest achievement was realising during an interview that the company had synergies, problems or solutions that would match well with our client. It was very rewarding to be able to provide partnerships that would generate new revenue streams for our client and therefore justify their faith and investment in our team. Getting closer to each other and working well as a team was also a big achievement." - Timeyin Akerele, British-Nigerian
"Apart from the above mentioned by my team members, I also want to highlight that we had to change our interview plan entirely from China to Europe within just one week. We did the research again and identified Germany and France to replace the original destination, China, due to the unexpected Coronavirus situation. It was intensive to replan the interview travel and redo the budget, but it was also a valuable learning experience. This has motivated me to always be resilient when faced with uncertainties."
"The biggest achievements were, firstly, the team successfully helped the client find potential partners with detailed contacts for further discussion by using a new approach, the 'bottom-up' approach. Secondly, the team had a great chance to gain knowledge of the energy storage devices industry, and the value that advanced materials such as graphene can bring to the industry. Personally, I had no knowledge of this before." - Xingbo Wu, Chinese
What were the results and recommendations?
The total market size of supercapacitor applications globally is worth around £2.27 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of ~20% between 2020-2030 and three key application industry segments: consumer electronics, automotive and power grid.
Companies that have an R&D gap that could be filled by graphene, in order to better meet customer demands, are potential partners for GEIC. For example, large manufacturers who lack supercapacitor product lines, or small manufacturers.
When targeting potential partnerships, the team recommended that GEIC should highlight its competitive position. GEIC is the only establishment offering capabilities in graphene, batteries, supercapacitors and biomedical fields, with a focus on both research and the commercialisation and scale-up of new technologies.
How would you sum up your experience in three words?