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Associate professor receives grant from National Science Foundation

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, September 3, 2020
The National Science Foundation has awarded more than $300,000 for water treatment research to Dr. Lucy Mar Camacho, a Texas A&M University-Kingsville associate professor of Environmental Engineering.

The grant will fund the research project “Collaborative Research: Dry-Wet Phase Inversion Pathway of Graphene Oxide (GO)-Based Mixed-Matrix Membranes for Mineral Ions Separation by Membrane Distillation.”

Membrane distillation is an energy-efficient alternative to multi-stage flash and multi-effect distillation processes and can be configured to concentrate brines, according to the project description. Graphene oxide is a versatile anti-fouling nanomaterial that will be used in the synthesis of mixed-matrix membranes with properties specific to the application in membrane distillation.

Camacho said membrane technology for water desalination and treatment of produced water has the potential to fundamentally alter the way society views water reuse.

“Augmenting water treatment capacity will allow rural, arid, and isolated regions with limited access to water, to have potable and reliable membrane systems for treating water,” the project description states.

The goal of the project is to establish and understand the dry-wet phase inversion membrane development approach to overcome limitations in utility for produced water purification.

“I am glad to have the National Science Foundation recognizing my effort and funding my research ideas, which also means recognizing Texas A&M-Kingsville,” Camacho said. “My research on nanomembrane technology for desalination of impaired waters will allow me to contribute to solve one of the most challenging paradigms of the 21st century, which is the lack of potable water for a growing population. As a researcher, I am very glad to been able to help solve these issues.”

Tags:  Graphene  Graphene Oxide  Lucy Mar Camacho  National Science Foundation  Texas A&M University-Kingsville 

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ZEN Graphene Solutions Provides Corporate Update

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, September 3, 2020
ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (“ZEN” or the “Company”) (TSXV:ZEN) is pleased to report that industry and university laboratories fully re-opened in late July-early August after a 4 month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic and they have re-started ZEN’s collaborative R&D programs. ZEN will report shortly on significant progress being made in multiple programs, one of which has resulted in the preparation of a patent filing that is central to ZEN’s business plan.

The company is also pleased to announce the recent award of two NSERC Alliance COVID-19 project grants, a Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship grant, and two Mitacs Accelerate grants for a total of $355,000 to its university collaborators increasing ZEN’s total research and development budget for the next 12 months to over $1.4M. The new grants are outlined below:

• University of Guelph, Prof. Aicheng Chen, “Development of Advanced Graphene-Based Antiviral Nanocomposites against COVID-19″ ($50,000 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 and $150,000 Mitacs Accelerate over one year);

• University of Ottawa, Prof. Jean-Michel Ménard, “Graphene-based surface coating to prevent fomite transmission of COVID-19” ($50,000 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 over one year);

• University of British Columbia – Okanagan, Prof. Mohammad Arjmand (Supervisor), Dr. Seyyedarash Haddadi (Postdoctoral Fellow), “Graphene-based Corrosion Protective Coatings” ($60,000 Mitacs Elevate over one year and renewable for a second year); and

• University of Toronto, Prof. Daman Panesar (Supervisor), Dr. Tanvir Qureshi (Intern), “Nano-engineered concrete and composites with advanced graphene-based 2D nanomaterials ($45,000 Mitacs Accelerate over one year)

Environmental Baseline Program Update

Additionally, the Company reports that, after a necessary break in travel and field activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has re-engaged ERM Canada Ltd. (“ERM”) and CSA Global (“CSA”, an ERM company) to continue with an abbreviated environmental baseline program for the Albany Project. This program will focus on project definition and planning, and on a laboratory-based geochemical baseline study.

The key aim of this work will be to consider the potential approach to mining the Albany resource based on ZEN’s current Vision of Project, and then to develop a roadmap to identify the key work that will be required to advance the Project to the next stage. Integrated project planning will include work to be completed across corporate, engineering, environment, social, and permitting functions.

ZEN will work closely with the ERM-CSA team of scientists, biologists, and engineers; ERM is leading the activities associated with this program on behalf of ZEN. ERM is a leading global provider of environmental, health, safety, social and sustainability consulting services with over three decades of experience in the Canadian mining industry.

Francis Dubé, ZEN CEO commented, “Our research and development work, with the goal of building an IP portfolio, is central to ZEN’s business plan and I am grateful to see our collaborators back in their labs. Workplace health and safety is paramount and new protocols in line with Health Canada’s recommendations are now in place at all of the industry and university labs.”

ZEN Graphene Solutions is seeking advanced applied graphene-related research projects where ZEN could support this research by providing customized graphene materials and, in some cases, funding in exchange for some commercialization rights to be negotiated. Please submit your proposals in confidence to

Mr. Peter Wood, P.Eng, P.Geo., President of ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd., is the “Qualified Person” for the purposes of National Instrument 43-101 and has reviewed, prepared and supervised the preparation of the technical information contained in this news release.

Tags:  2D nanomaterials  Aicheng Chen  COVID-19  Daman Panesar  Francis Dubé  Graphene  Jean-Michel Ménard  Mohammad Arjmand  Peter Wood  Seyyedarash Haddadi  Tanvir Qureshi  University of British Columbia  University of Guelph  University of Ottawa  University of Toronto  ZEN Graphene Solutions 

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Spin-galvanic effect in graphene with topological topping demonstrated

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, September 3, 2020
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have demonstrated the spin-galvanic effect, which allows for the conversion of non-equilibrium spin density into a charge current. Here, by combining graphene with a topological insulator, the authors realize a gate-tunable spin-galvanic effect at room temperature. The findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

“We believe that this experimental realization will attract a lot of scientific attention and put topological insulators and graphene on the map for applications in spintronic and quantum technologies,” says Associate Professor Saroj Prasad Dash, who leads the research group at the Quantum Device Physics Laboratory (QDP), the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience – MC2.

Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, has extraordinary electronic and spin transport properties. However, electrons in this material experience low interaction of their spin and orbital angular moments, called spin-orbit coupling, which does not allow to achieve tunable spintronic functionality in pristine graphene. On the other hand, unique electronic spin textures and the spin-momentum locking phenomenon in topological insulators are promising for emerging spin-orbit driven spintronics and quantum technologies.

However, the utilization of topological insulators poses several challenges related to their lack of electrical gate-tunability, interference from trivial bulk states, and destruction of topological properties at heterostructure interfaces.

“Here, we address some of these challenges by integrating two-dimensional graphene with a three-dimensional topological insulator in van der Waals heterostructures to take advantage of their remarkable spintronic properties and engineer a proximity-induced spin-galvanic effect at room temperature,” says Dmitrii Khokhriakov (to the right), PhD Student at QDP, and first author of the article.

Since graphene is atomically thin, its properties can be drastically changed when other functional materials are brought in contact with it, which is known as the proximity effect. Therefore, graphene-based heterostructures are an exciting device concept since they exhibit strong gate-tunability of proximity effects arising from its hybridization with other functional materials. Previously, combining graphene with topological insulators in van der Waals heterostructures, the researchers have shown that a strong proximity-induced spin-orbit coupling could be induced, which is expected to produce a Rashba spin-splitting in the graphene bands. As a consequence, the proximitized graphene is expected to host the spin-galvanic effect, with the anticipated gate-tunability of its magnitude and sign. However, this phenomenon has not been observed in these heterostructures previously.

“To realize this spin-galvanic effect, we developed a special Hall-bar-like device of graphene-topological insulator heterostructures,” says Dmitrii Khokhriakov.

The devices were nanofabricated in the state-of-the-art cleanroom at MC2 and measured at the Quantum Device Physics Laboratory. The novel device concept allowed the researchers to perform complementary measurements in various configurations via spin switch and Hanle spin precession experiments, giving an unambiguous evidence of the spin-galvanic effect at room temperature.

“Moreover, we were able to demonstrate a strong tunability and a sign change of the spin galvanic effect by the gate electric field, which makes such heterostructures promising for the realization of all-electrical and gate-tunable spintronic devices,” concludes Saroj Prasad Dash (to the left).

The researchers acknowledge financial support from the European Union Graphene Flagship, Swedish Research Council, VINNOVA 2D Tech Center, FlagEra, and AoA Materials and EI Nano program at Chalmers University of Technology.

Tags:  Chalmers University of Technology  Dmitrii Khokhriakov  Graphene  Nature Communications  Quantum Device Physics Laboratory  Saroj Prasad Dash 

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PureGRAPH® significantly improves rubber polymers used in the mining sector

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, September 2, 2020
First Graphene Limited (“ASX: FGR” or “the Company”), is pleased to provide an update on the incorporation of PureGRAPH® into rubber compounds for applications in the mining sector.

As reported in March this year, FGR commenced work on the manufacturing of PureGRAPH® powders into long-chain rubber polymers.

To leverage customer interest, FGR concentrated on the compound most commonly used in the mining screen media market, with potential to adapt the findings into other sacrificial wear-liner rubber materials across the industry. The work has been conducted in conjunction with an experienced rubber consultant in Perth and an established rubber processor in Ipoh, Malaysia.

First Graphene Managing Director, Craig McGuckin says the results from the extensive test work undertaken are encouraging.

“The initial work demonstrates a low dosage of PureGRAPH® provides improvements over the base material most commonly used for the mining screen media market,” McGuckin said.

“Further tests will be undertaken with the PureGRAPH® compounded rubber for both mining screen and sacrificial wear media, as this is a large market and one in which we are actively engaged with both suppliers and end users.

“The results so far provide the platform to introduce PureGRAPH® into other compounded rubber materials both in industrial and domestic use.”

Initial Science

FGR engaged an experienced rubber consultant to understand the science associated with the compounds used in the mining screen and wear media markets.

Rubber compounds vary considerably depending on their use. Screening tests were completed on 35 compounds using formulation variations and compounded on a laboratory scale two-roll mill, similar to that in Figure 1.

The two-roll mill allowed for multiple small batches of rubber to be produced with adjusted PureGRAPH® concentration and rubber chemistry. A range of mechanical testing could then be carried out on each batch to evaluate performance and produce the following data displayed in Figure 2.

Figure 2 demonstrates that multiple mechanical improvements can be achieved through low addition rates of graphene using a two-roll mill. This resulted in a better understanding of how certain mechanical properties can be tailored for specific applications through adjustments to the graphene concentration and rubber chemistry.

Upscaling of Test Work using PureGRAPH®

Laboratory testing demonstrated the benefits for numerous graphene enhanced rubber compounds using a two-roll mill.

Laboratory scale equipment does not fully resemble the processing conditions present in full scale commercial rubber compounding, typically carried out in large internal mixers followed by industrial two-roll mills, and so it was important to upscale the laboratory testing to better simulate commercial rubber compounding and demonstrate the benefits of graphene under this environment.

For the commercial scale tests, a control rubber was selected based on industry compounding experience, demonstrating the desired mechanical properties of a typical hard rock screen or wear liner application.

A production scale run of this material was then compounded using the Malaysian partner’s commercial production process line, both with and without the addition of PureGRAPH®. The compounded rubber was then moulded into large prototype parts and test sheets for mechanical testing.

Results from PureGRAPH® enhanced rubber

The following table outlines the improvements achieved from the incorporation of PureGRAPH®20 in the base material used for mining screen or wear media compounds.
The improvement in abrasion resistance (i.e. decrease in abrasion wear over the base material) and tear strength is of particular importance for improved performance and longevity of screen media.

As detailed in Table 1, both abrasion resistance and tear strength can be significantly improved through a low addition rate of PureGRAPH® into the rubber compound.

Client compounded PureGRAPH® enhanced rubber screens are currently in field trials in the mining industry in Western Australia.

Further laboratory test work is underway on additional rubber compounds and processing techniques focussing on improved compound dispersion and fire-retardant applications. Updates will be provided as this work is completed.

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Graphene  PureGRAPH 

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Fixing 'food miles': how graphene-enhanced farming can cut costs and emissions

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, September 2, 2020
A start-up company based at The University of Manchester has begun trials of a graphene-enhanced growth material that could revolutionise food production in the UK and overseas, reducing transportation and contributing to sustainability in farming worldwide.

AEH Innovative Hydrogel Ltd secured £1m of Government funding through Innovate UK in July and begins work on the project in the University’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre on 1 September 2020. The two-year project will develop a unique, virtually maintenance-free ‘vertical farming’ system (‘GelPonic’).

GelPonic relies on a growth substrate for indoor fruit-and-veg that improves performance in numerous ways. The hydrogel growth medium conserves water and filters out pathogens to protect plants from disease, while a graphene sensor allows remote monitoring, reducing labour costs. Moreover, the production of the growth medium outputs significantly less CO2 compared to traditional solutions and can also be used in areas with drought conditions and infertile soil.

Help for farming through technology

AEH - led by Dr Beenish Siddique (pictured) - has been supported by the European Research Development Fund (ERDF) Bridging the Gap programme and was a 2019 prize-winner in the prestigious Eli Harari competition, run by the University. The extra funding announced by the Government on 17 July is part of a broader £24 million spend to assist UK farming through pioneering technology.

Beenish said: “One of the biggest hurdles in controlled environment agriculture is operational cost, which makes it a low-profit-margin business. The fact this system is almost maintenance-free could make a big difference to whether farms can be successful or not.”

“We believe there is an opportunity here to change the future of farming not just here in the UK but around the world," she added. "Globally, around 70% of the fresh water available to humans is used for agriculture and 60% of that is wasted; agriculture also contributes around 20% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Our system helps control that waste and those emissions, shortens germination times and could enable an increase of 25% in crop yields.”

Post-COVID sustainability

One of Beenish’s colleagues at the GEIC is Commercialisation Director Ray Gibbs, whose role is to help to bring innovative ideas to fruition through launching start-up and early-stage companies such as AEH. He believes the current pandemic, in tandem with net-zero targets, has sharpened the Government’s focus on investment in innovation.

Ray said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the UK supply chains, none more so than food supply. Indoor farming allows us to grow food in the UK that would normally come from another part of the world. That contributes to self-sustainability, reduces food miles and means we’re not so reliant on international markets for our food.”

AEH is developing its system alongside project partners and subcontractors including Crop Health & Protection (CHAP), Labman Automation, Grobotic Systems and Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC).

CHAP’s Innovation Network Lead Dr Harry Langford said: “There is a significant market demand for more sustainable hydroponic substrates. This project is an exciting opportunity to optimise and scale-up a novel hydrogel product and demonstrate this product directly to the end-user, within a highly innovative automated production system”.

Tags:  AEH Innovative Hydrogel Ltd  Beenish Siddique  Covid-19  European Research Development Fund  Graphene  Harry Langford  Healthcare  Innovate UK  Ray Gibbs  University of Manchester 

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XG Sciences, Inc. Announces New Leadership

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, September 2, 2020
XG Sciences, Inc. (“XGS” or the “Company”), a leading manufacturer of high-quality graphene nano-materials, today announced that it has appointed Mr. Robert M. Blinstrub as Chief Executive Officer and Mr. Andrew J. (AJ) Boechler as Chief Commercial Officer. Dr. Philip Rose, CEO of XG Sciences, Inc. for the past six years, has resigned to pursue other interests, but will continue to serve as an advisor to the company to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

XG Sciences, Inc.’s Chairman, Arnold A. Allemang, said “I am delighted to welcome Bob as our new CEO and AJ as our new CCO. Bob is a proven leader and an experienced CEO who has excelled at leading early-stage companies through periods of transformative growth. We believe AJ’s experience building and scaling global organizations and commercial teams will enable XGS to capitalize on a tremendous market opportunity. Finally, I want to thank Dr. Rose for his tireless service over the past six years.”

“I am honored and energized to assume leadership of XG Sciences,” said Blinstrub. “We have a very talented team at XGS, and I am excited to continue to innovate our products in new and diverse ways to better serve our customers. Both AJ and I feel XGS is extraordinarily well-positioned to address a significant market opportunity in coming years, and we look forward to unlocking growth opportunities and creating value for our shareholders.”

Blinstrub has been an investor in the Company since 2018 and has served as a Member of the Board of Directors since March 2019. Blinstrub was founder, President and CEO of Applied Global Manufacturing, Inc. (“AGM”), a company he started in 2000. Headquartered in Troy, Michigan, AGM was a designer, innovator, and producer of engineered solutions for automobiles, with 9 production facilities around the world, including Austria, China, Costa Rica and Mexico. Under Blinstrub’s 17 years of leadership, AGM doubled its revenue every 18 months on average and had total revenue of approximately $500 million and 2,000 employees when it was acquired by Flex, Ltd. (NASDAQ: FLEX) in April 2017. During his tenure, AGM accumulated supplier awards for world class quality, product design, engineering, innovation, and service. Prior to AGM, Blinstrub led multiple startups and operational turnarounds.

Boechler joins XGS following a successful 30-year career with General Electric Company, where he provided executive leadership in a variety of industries and markets including Plastics, Healthcare, Automotive, Oil and Gas, Power Generation, Consumer Electronics, Automation and Industrial Inspection Technologies. While at GE, Boechler built global organizations and brands, developing solutions in both start-up and established business environments.

Tags:  Andrew J. (AJ) Boechler  Applied Global Manufacturing  Arnold A. Allemang  Graphene  nanomaterials  Philip Rose  Robert M. Blinstrub  XG Sciences 

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Thresholdless Soliton Formation in Photonic Moiré Lattices

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Researchers at The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), a BIST centre, are part of a collaboration that has reported, in Nature Photonics, the observation of soliton formation with a power threshold dictated by geometry in photonic moiré lattices.

Take two identical layers of semi transparent material that have the same structure, put them one on top of the other, rotate them and look at them from above, and hexagonal patterns start to emerge. They are known as moiré patterns or moiré lattices.

Moiré lattices are used every day in applications such as art, textile industry, architecture, as well as image processing, metrology and interferometry. They have been a matter of major interest in science, since they are easily produced using coupled graphene–hexagonal boron nitride monolayers, graphene–graphene layers and graphene quasicrystals on a silicon carbide surface and have proven to generate different states of matter upon rotating or twisting the layers to a certain angle, opening to a new realm of richer physics to be investigated. A few years ago scientists at MIT let by Prof. Pablo Jarillo-Herrero found a new type of unconventional superconductivity in twisted bilayer graphene that forms a moiré lattice. Since then, an explosion of new physics has occurred, which includes several landmark contributions by the ICFO team led by Prof. Efetov that unveiled a new zoo of unobserved states in such structures.

In a different realm of Physics, a team of scientists in a long-standing collaboration between ICFO researchers Prof. Yaroslav Kartashov and Prof. Lluis Torner, the former having been post-doctoral researcher in the same group as Prof Fangwei Ye (currently full professor at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where the experiments were conducted), and Prof. Vladimir Konotop in Lisbon, reported early this year in Nature the observation of the transition from delocalisation to localisation in two-dimensional patterns, afforded by the properties of the moiré structures with fundamentally different geometries (periodic, general aperiodic, and quasicrystal).

Now moiré lattices optically-induced in a photorefractive nonlinear crystal have been employed to observe the formation of optical solitons under different geometrical conditions controlled by the twisting angle between the constitutive sublattices. The behavior of the soliton formation threshold was confirmed to be directly linked to the band structure of the moiré lattices resulting from the different twisting angles of the sublattices and, in particular, of the band-flattening associated to the geometry of the lattices. Similar phenomena are anticipated to occur in moiré patterns composed of sublattices of other crystallographic symmetries and in other physical systems where flat-bands induced by geometry arise. The results were published in Nature Photonics.

Tags:  Graphene  Hexagonal boron nitride  Institute of Photonic Sciences  Lluis Torner  Nature Photonics  Pablo Jarillo-Herrero  Shanghai Jiao Tong University  Vladimir Konotop  Yaroslav Kartashov 

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Graphene additives show a new way to control the structure of organic crystals

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, September 2, 2020
A team of researchers at The University of Manchester has demonstrated that the surface properties of graphene can be used to control the structure of organic crystals obtained from solution.

Organic crystal structures can be found in a large number of products, such as food, explosives, colour pigments and pharmaceuticals. However, organic crystals can come in different structures, called polymorphs: each of these forms has very different physical and chemical properties, despite having the same chemical composition.

To make a comparison, diamond and graphite are polymorphs because they are composed both by carbon atoms, but they have very different properties because the atoms are bonded to form different structures. The same concept can be extended to organic molecules, when interacting between each other to form crystals.

Understanding and reacting to how materials work on a molecular level is key because the wrong polymorph can cause a food to have a bad taste, or a drug to be less effective. There are several examples of drugs removed from the market because of polymorphism-related problems. As such, production of a specific polymorph is currently a fundamental problem for both research and industry and it does involve substantial scientific and economic challenges.

New research from The University of Manchester has now demonstrated that adding graphene to an evaporating solution containing organic molecules can substantially improve the selectivity towards a certain crystalline form. This opens up new applications of graphene in the field of crystal engineering, which have been completely unexplored so far.

Professor Cinzia Casiraghi, who led the team, said: “Ultimately, we have shown that advanced materials, such as graphene and the tools of nanotechnology enable us to study crystallisation of organic molecules from a solution in a radically new way. We are now excited to move towards molecules that are commonly used for pharmaceuticals and food to further investigate the potential of graphene in the field of crystal engineering."

In the report, published in ACS Nano, the team has shown that by tuning the surface properties of graphene, it is possible to change the type of polymorphs produced. Glycine, the simplest amino acid, has been used as reference molecule, while different types of graphene have been used either as additive or as templates.

Matthew Boyes, and Adriana Alieva, PhD students at The University of Manchester, both contributed to this work: “This is a pioneering work on the use of graphene as an additive in crystallisation experiments. We have used different types of graphene with varying oxygen content and looked at their effects on the crystal outcome of glycine. We have observed that by carefully tuning the oxygen content of graphene, it is possible to induce preferential crystallisation.” said Adriana.

Computer modelling, performed by Professor Melle Franco at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, supports the experimental results and attributes the polymorph selectivity to the presence of hydroxyl groups allowing for hydrogen bonding interactions with the glycine molecules, thereby favouring one polymorph over the other, once additional layers of the polymorph are added during crystal growth.

This work has been financially supported by the European Commission in the framework of the European Research Council (ERC Consolidator), which supports the most innovative research ideas in Europe, by placing emphasis on the quality of the idea rather than the research area, and it is a joint collaboration between the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Chemical Engineering, with Dr Thomas Vetter.

Tags:  ACS Nano  Adriana Alieva  Cinzia Casiraghi  European Research Council  Graphene  graphite  Healthcare  Matthew Boyes  Melle Franco  Thomas Vetter  University of Aveiro  University of Manchester 

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Woman-Led Tech Startup, MITO Material Solutions, Raises Series Seed Round

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, August 31, 2020
MITO Material Solutions, a cutting edge developer of additives that enable polymer manufacturers to enhance product performance, announced an oversubscribed $1M Series Seed funding round led by two Chicago-based firms, Dipalo Ventures and Clean Energy Trust.

This investment follows MITO Materials receipt of more than $1.1 million in R&D grants from the National Science Foundation and participation in the Heritage Group Hardtech Accelerator powered by Techstars in late 2019. Additional Series Seed investors who participated in this round include Charlottesville, Virginia-based, CavAngels; Indiana-based HG Ventures, Elevate Ventures, and VisionTech Angels; and Oklahoma-based, Cortado Ventures.

Led by married founders, Haley Marie and Kevin Keith, MITO Materials has pioneered a proprietary graphene-functionalization technique that creates hybrid polymer modifiers. MITO additives enhance fiber-reinforced composites and thermoplastics up to 135% beyond standard performance metrics. 

MITO E-GO and other in-development products are engineered to integrate into existing production lines at an extremely low concentration and with proven compatibility in a variety of material combinations. With MITO, manufacturers can replace existing metal components with composite materials; shedding weight without sacrificing durability.

MITO Materials CEO, Haley Marie Keith commented, “I believe this is a revolutionary moment in the industry. The world is shifting to a need for lighter, stronger, and more sustainable materials; right now we need something better than metal. The partners we secured through this funding round have pulled together strategic customers and suppliers that will help us scale and meet this very pressing market need.”

“MITO’s remarkable technology has tremendous potential to positively impact many industries— from electric vehicles to bioplastics—and we have the utmost confidence in Haley as an operator and a leader, said Paul Seidler, Managing Director at Clean Energy Trust. “We welcome MITO Material Solutions to our portfolio and look forward to supporting them throughout their growth and success.”

Rafiq Ahmed, Managing Director at Dipalo Ventures says,“We started Dipalo Ventures to discover and back exceptional teams solving complex problems. MITO has the opportunity to fundamentally impact cost and performance of critical applications across a range of materials used in products people need every day. Haley, Kevin and the MITO team have displayed grit, capability and results to get to this point and we are excited to be part of their journey.” Dipalo Ventures will take a seat on the MITO Board.

MITO Materials will use funding to stay on the cutting edge as they enter the market with new innovations and continue with their mission to empower a new era of advanced manufacturing where products are expected to be built better and last longer.

Tags:  bioplastics  Clean Energy Trust  Dipalo Ventures  electric vehicle  Graphene  Haley Marie Keith  MITO Materials  Paul Seidler  polymers  Rafiq Ahmed 

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Team’s Flexible Micro LEDs May Reshape Future of Wearable Technology

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, August 31, 2020
University of Texas at Dallas researchers and their international colleagues have developed a method to create micro LEDs that can be folded, twisted, cut and stuck to different surfaces.

The research, published online in June in the journal Science Advances, helps pave the way for the next generation of flexible, wearable technology.

Used in products ranging from brake lights to billboards, LEDs are ideal components for backlighting and displays in electronic devices because they are lightweight, thin, energy efficient and visible in different types of lighting. Micro LEDs, which can be as small as 2 micrometers and bundled to be any size, provide higher resolution than other LEDs. Their size makes them a good fit for small devices such as smart watches, but they can be bundled to work in flat-screen TVs and other larger displays. LEDs of all sizes, however, are brittle and typically can only be used on flat surfaces.

The researchers’ new micro LEDs aim to fill a demand for bendable, wearable electronics.

“The biggest benefit of this research is that we have created a detachable LED that can be attached to almost anything,” said Dr. Moon Kim, Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering at UT Dallas and a corresponding author of the study. “You can transfer it onto your clothing or even rubber — that was the main idea. It can survive even if you wrinkle it. If you cut it, you can use half of the LED.”

Researchers in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics helped develop the flexible LED through a technique called remote epitaxy, which involves growing a thin layer of LED crystals on the surface of a sapphire crystal wafer, or substrate.

Typically, the LED would remain on the wafer. To make it detachable, researchers added a nonstick layer to the substrate, which acts similarly to the way parchment paper protects a baking sheet and allows for the easy removal of cookies, for instance. The added layer, made of a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon called graphene, prevents the new layer of LED crystals from sticking to the wafer.

“The biggest benefit of this research is that we have created a detachable LED that can be attached to almost anything. You can transfer it onto your clothing or even rubber — that was the main idea. It can survive even if you wrinkle it. If you cut it, you can use half of the LED.”

Dr. Moon Kim, Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering at UT Dallas

“The graphene does not form chemical bonds with the LED material, so it adds a layer that allows us to peel the LEDs from the wafer and stick them to any surface,” said Kim, who oversaw the physical analysis of the LEDs using an atomic resolution scanning/transmission electron microscope at UT Dallas’ Nano Characterization Facility.

Colleagues in South Korea carried out laboratory tests of LEDs by adhering them to curved surfaces, as well as to materials that were subsequently twisted, bent and crumpled. In another demonstration, they adhered an LED to the legs of a Lego minifigure with different leg positions.

Bending and cutting do not affect the quality or electronic properties of the LED, Kim said.

The bendy LEDs have a variety of possible uses, including flexible lighting, clothing and wearable biomedical devices. From a manufacturing perspective, the fabrication technique offers another advantage: Because the LED can be removed without breaking the underlying wafer substrate, the wafer can be used repeatedly.

“You can use one substrate many times, and it will have the same functionality,” Kim said.

In ongoing studies, the researchers also are applying the fabrication technique to other types of materials.

“It’s very exciting; this method is not limited to one type of material,” Kim said. “It’s open to all kinds of materials.”

Other UT Dallas researchers involved in the study included Dr. Anvar Zakhidov, professor of physics; and Qingxiao Wang and Sunah Kwon, doctoral students and research assistants in materials science and engineering.

Other authors of the study were affiliated with Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as organizations in South Korea, including Sejong University, Ewha Womans University, Korea Electronics Technology Institute, CoAsia Corp., Pohang University of Science and Technology, and Korea University. The research was funded in part by the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Korea Institute for Advanced Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Tags:  Electronics  Graphene  LED  Los Alamos National Laboratory  Moon Kim  University of Texas at Dallas 

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