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Gratomic Provides Update to Shareholders

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Gratomic Inc is pleased to provide the following update to shareholders on general operations and the issuance of mining license ML215.

Mining License Update


On the 24th of January the Company's Co-CEO, Arnoldus Brand met with the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Namibia to satisfy a request that came from the special committee that is in charge of recommending the mining license request to the Minister of Mines and Energy, to provide an update on mine development and to fulfill certain criteria required for the approval of the mining license.

The Company is happy to report that it fulfilled 100% of the required criteria during the meeting and was requested to amend the current Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan over EPL 3895 to include ML 215.

After meeting with the members of the special committee, the Company immediately engaged Risk-Based Solutions (RBS) CC, Consulting Arm of Foresight Group Namibia (FGN) (Pty) Ltd, to start amending the EIA and EMP to include ML215. The final submission of the amended EIA and EMP was done on the 17th of February 2020. Through this submission Gratomic has now fulfilled all requirements to satisfy the committee's requests and is now waiting to hear back from the Ministry of Mines and Energy with respect to the granting of mining licence ML215.

We would like to thank the Ministry for their co-operation and hard work to help Gratomic advance towards a mining company from a junior exploration company.

Operations Update

The Chinese manufacturing facility that is supplying the last pieces of equipment that make up the greater part of the drying circuit for the Aukam mine graphite processing plant has experienced significant delays due to the impact of the Coronavirus and has been unable to ship the equipment. The Company has been waiting for correspondence from the manufacturer on the platform designs that are required to be poured at the same time as the shipment leaves China to provide a sufficient curing period for the concrete platforms. The minimum shipping time from China to Namibia is 39 days once the equipment leaves port. We foresee further delays at both the port of China and the port of Walvis Bay given strict quarantine restrictions at both ports currently.

On the 19th of February the Company received feed-back from the manufacturer on the platform designs and confirmation that some of the staff have returned back to the factory and it is now able to proceed with shipping of the remaining equipment.

The List of Equipment from China includes the following:

Cyclone Cluster

10 m Electrical Dryer

Thickener

600 mm conveyor belt

Filter press

Slurry pumps and lines

The equipment was specifically designed and built to accommodate mass balance pull and the treatment of Aukam Graphite based on the results of our pilot testing programs.

The remainder of the equipment has already been set up on site and what remains is the arrival of this equipment to fully complete the 20,000 tonnes per year operating capacity of the processing facility.

We appreciate the patience of our shareholders during this delay.

We further sympathize with our Chinese vendors as they have been going through a difficult time.

Management Update

In an effort to reduce the Company's expenditures, the majority of Namibian staff and management has agreed to go to 50% remuneration as per SECTION 12 (6) OF THE NAMIBIAN LABOUR ACT NO 11 OF 2007 until the granting of ML215. The Canadian management team has lead by example by doing the same in an effort to preserve capital for operations.

The efforts by the Namibian team to agree to such conditions is extraordinary and shows their commitment to the success of the business.

We thank each and every one of our devoted and hard-working employees for their commitment towards the success of Gratomic as a company.

Financing Update

Gratomic further pushes to conclude its current financing as the Company moves towards fully commercializing its assets.

To date the Company has raised CAD $626,000 of up to a CAD $2.5 million-dollar issuance.

Management has excelled beyond their calling to do as much as they can to further operations along and will continue to work relentlessly to earn success.

TODA Notes Update


Further to the press release of October 17, 2019, where Gratomic announced the Supply Agreement with TODAQ Holdings ("TODAQ") to supply TODAQ with an aggregate of USD $25,000,000 of graphite, payable in TODA Notes ("TDN"), and the subsequent press release on December 20, 2019 where Gratomic received its first of two purchase orders from TODAQ, Gratomic is pleased to provide an update on the current status of TDN trading. TDN has been trading on BitForex, a digital asset exchange, with a 30-day average price and volume of approximately USD $0.24 and USD $950,000, respectively. TDN first started trading on Bitforex on November 1, 2019 at a price of USD $0.10 and a volume of USD $300,000. To follow TDN, please click the following link: https://www.bitforex.com/en/spot/tdn_btc. No TDN will be issued to the Company until the equipment arrives from China and the processing plant is in production.

Arno Brand, Co-CEO, stated: "These have been trying times for the Company as it progresses its efforts to evolve from a junior exploration company to a mining company. The achievements of those that have sacrificed their time in making it a reality will not go unnoticed. The Company is still in a very strong position as it has built its operations without having to fall on the assistance of an abusive debt transaction that will impede its profitability and damage shareholder value going forward. I am proud of our team for their patience and hard work as we wait for our mining license. I would further like to thank all the shareholders for their continued support."

Risk Factors

No mineral resources, let alone mineral reserves demonstrating economic viability and technical feasibility, have been delineated on the Aukam Property. The Company is not in a position to demonstrate or disclose any capital and/or operating costs that may be associated with satisfying the terms of the TODAQ Supply Agreement.

Gratomic wishes to emphasize that Supply Agreement is conditional on Gratomic being able to bring the Aukam project into a production phase, and for any graphite being produced to meet certain technical and mineralization requirements.

Gratomic continues to move its business towards production and as part of its business plan, expects to obtain a National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects technical report to help it ascertain the economics of Aukam. Presently the Company uses its existing pilot processing facility to produce certain amounts of graphite concentrate from accumulated surface graphite.

The Company advises that it has not based its production decision on even the existence of mineral resources let alone on a feasibility study of mineral reserves, demonstrating economic and technical viability, and, as a result, there may be an increased uncertainty of achieving any particular level of recovery of minerals or the cost of such recovery, including increased risks associated with developing a commercially mineable deposit.

The Supply Agreement provides that if Gratomic is unable to deliver graphite in accordance with the orders from Todaq, Todaq has the right to refuse to take any subsequent attempt to fulfill the order, terminate the agreement immediately, obtain substitute product from another supplier and recover from the Company any costs and expenses incurred in obtaining such substitute product or suing for damages under the contract.

Historically, such projects have a much higher risk of economic and technical failure. There is no guarantee that production will begin as anticipated or at all or that anticipated production costs will be achieved.

Failure to commence production would have a material adverse impact on the Company's ability to generate revenue and cash flow to fund operations. Failure to achieve the anticipated production costs would have a material adverse impact on the Company's cash flow and future profitability.

Steve Gray, P.Geo. has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information in this press release and is Gratomic's "Qualified Person" as defined by National Instrument 43-101 - Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.

Tags:  Arnoldus Brand  Graphene  Graphite  Gratomic 

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POSITION AVAILABLE: Conductive Ink Formulation Scientist

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Nanotech Energy is developing cutting-edge energy storage solutions for the electric and portable electronics markets. This technology is based on the wonder material graphene that is established as the thinnest, strongest and most conductive material. Our mission at Nanotech Energy is to harness the power of graphene into world-changing battery solutions. We also take advantage of the outstanding structural, mechanical and electronic properties of graphene to develop conductive inks and adhesives as well as electromagnetic interference shielding materials with unparalleled performance. Nanotech Energy seeks talented scientists and engineers to join the expanding development and production teams. Choosing where to start and grow your career has a major impact on your professional and personal life. Nanotech Energy is home for cutting-edge graphene and nanomaterials technology and our scientists develop solutions that impact our community and the world. We offer you a chance to join a high-growth company at an early stage and shape the direction of our culture.

Position Summary :

Nanotech Energy, Inc. is seeking a talentedInk Formulation Scientist to join our expanding team located in Northern California. As a leading company in the manufacture of graphene oxide, silver nanoparticles and nanowires, we plan to offer our customers a full spectrum of conductive inks for a wide range of applications.

The successful candidate will work with our chemistry team and analytical scientists to develop conductive inks for the growing markets of printed electronics and smart packaging.You will use your knowledge in conductive ink formulations to develop, validate and implement inkjet, aerosol and screen printing inks. This job requires a strong hands-on experience in a variety of printing processes and ink formulations and the ability to work independently with little supervisions, yet also be an integral team member. As our residential expert in conductive inks, you will coordinate ink development with cross-functional teams to meet our engineering and customer needs. You will also be responsible for facilitating the transition of our inks from development to manufacturing. Nanotech Energy is made up of amazing individuals but it’s only through teamwork that we achieve greatness. At Nanotech Energy, you will be given the opportunity to participate and join in the growth stage of a startup company and contribute at all levels to make an impact.

Job Type: Full-time

Job level: Senior level 

Responsibilities and Duties

• Lead technical and quality needs for our conductive inks projects to address immediate and strategic problems of the company.
• Contribute to the continuous improvement of processes and capabilities in the company.
• Participate in the design and development ofa new laboratory for inkjet, aerosol and screen printing applications. 
• Develop or improve existing products and processes to prepare dispersions and inks and help to implement in production. 
• Synthesize and characterize new products, components, and formulations. 
• Assist in collecting data and writing of patent inventions associated with the development of new products. 
• Apply knowledge to provide customer support and troubleshooting in the application of commercial products.
• Assist our engineers and plant production personnel in scaling up the technology from bench to manufacturing.
• Review and write standard operating procedures for analytical development.
• Conduct experiments to test the long-term stability of our inks. Analyze results of experiments and trials and write reports. 
• Assist in the supervision of less experienced chemists and technicians in the team. Provide other support as needed to help maintain an efficientdevelopment lab.
• Communicate ideas and results internally across multiple teams. 

Education and Qualifications

• Bachelor degree in chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering or related field. PhD degree with relevant experience is also acceptable. 
• Experience in the preparation, processing and characterization of conductive inks for printed and flexible electronics. 
• Knowledge of fluid dynamics, rheology, and fluid development is required. 
• Demonstrated history of solving problems with a chemical and analytical approach.
• Strong background in colloidal and surface chemistry and surface treatment through material design, synthesis, and characterization. 
• Experience with the development of transparent conducting electrodes with different surface properties is highly desirable. 
• Examples of instrumentation / techniques: Viscometry, goniometry (with tensiometry), DLS, zeta potential, SEM, TEM
• Knowledge of nanocolloidal system stability; nanoparticle synthesis experience is a plus 
• Scale up experience with nanocolloidal systems
• Experience with at least one printing process is required.
• Experience with nanomaterial surface coatings for added functions is a plus. 
• 3-5 years of industry experience (less for candidates with advanced degrees).

Professional Skills

• Ability to respond to multiple priorities simultaneously; ability to coordinate team and projects to meet the company needs and deadlines. 
• Strong project management skills.
• Skilled in troubleshooting and analytical thinking with an interest in solving complex problems. 
• Ability to deal with a variety of abstract and concrete variables and to conduct studies using the scientific method
• Demonstrated understanding of analytical chemistry and materials science, especially in rheology, polymer, and thermal analysis. 
• Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in both verbal and written formats; ability to work effectively with team members and management. 
• Competency level should allow the employee to author internal reports, reports to customers, or articles for ink industry publications.
• Experience in 3D printing and thermal inkjet is a plus. 

Work authorization / location:
• United States (Required)

Contact
Scott Jacobson
Director of Business Development
scottjacobson@nanotechenergy.com

Tags:  Battery  Energy Storage  Graphene  nanomaterials  Nanotech Energy  Scott Jacobson 

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New graphene-based metasurface capable of independent amplitude and phase control of light

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Researchers described a new strategy of designing metamolecules that incorporates two independently controllable subwavelength meta-atoms. This two-parametric control of the metamolecule secures the complete control of both amplitude and the phase of light.

A KAIST research team in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison theoretically suggested a graphene-based active metasurface capable of independent amplitude and phase control of mid-infrared light. This research gives a new insight into modulating the mid-infrared wavefront with high resolution by solving the problem of the independent control of light amplitude and phase, which has remained a long-standing challenge.

Light modulation technology is essential for developing future optical devices such as holography, high-resolution imaging, and optical communication systems. Liquid crystals and a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) have previously been utilized to modulate light. However, both methods suffer from significantly limited driving speeds and unit pixel sizes larger than the diffraction limit, which consequently prevent their integration into photonic systems.

The metasurface platform is considered a strong candidate for the next generation of light modulation technology. Metasurfaces have optical properties that natural materials cannot have, and can overcome the limitations of conventional optical systems, such as forming a high-resolution image beyond the diffraction limit. In particular, the active metasurface is regarded as a technology with a wide range of applications due to its tunable optical characteristics with an electrical signal.

However, the previous active metasurfaces suffered from the inevitable correlation between light amplitude control and phase control. This problem is caused by the modulation mechanism of conventional metasurfaces. Conventional metasurfaces have been designed such that a metaatom only has one resonance condition, but a single resonant design inherently lacks the degrees of freedom to independently control the amplitude and phase of light.

The research team made a metaunit by combining two independently controllable metaatoms, dramatically improving the modulation range of active metasurfaces. The proposed metasurface can control the amplitude and phase of the mid-infrared light independently with a resolution beyond the diffraction limit, thus allowing complete control of the optical wavefront.

The research team theoretically confirmed the performance of the proposed active metasurface and the possibility of wavefront shaping using this design method. Furthermore, they developed an analytical method that can approximate the optical properties of metasurfaces without complex electromagnetic simulations. This analytical platform proposes a more intuitive and comprehensively applicable metasurface design guideline.

The proposed technology is expected to enable accurate wavefront shaping with a much higher spatial resolution than existing wavefront shaping technologies, which will be applied to active optical systems such as mid-infrared holography, high-speed beam steering devices that can be applied for LiDAR, and variable focus infrared lenses.

Professor Min Seok Jang commented, "This study showed the independent control amplitude and phase of light, which has been a long-standing quest in light modulator technology. The development of optical devices using complex wavefront control is expected to become more active in the future."

PhD candidate Sangjun Han and Dr. Seyoon Kim of the University of Wisconsin-Madison are the co-first authors of the research, which was published and selected as the front cover of the January 28 edition of ACS Nano titled "Complete complex amplitude modulation with electronically tunable graphene plasmonic metamolecules".

Tags:  Graphene  KAIST  Min Seok Jang  photonics  plasmonics  Sangjun Han  Seyoon Kim 

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MITO Material Solutions To Present at Industry Events and Conferences

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, February 24, 2020
MITO Materials, creator of hybrid polymer modifiers that increase the durability, flexibility, and performance of polymer composites, is announcing that the Company will take part three different industry conferences and events this Spring.

Since participating in The Heritage Group accelerator powered by Techstars in Indianapolis, IN, MITO Materials has seen a significant increase in customer on boarding for product integration into various fiber-reinforced thermoset and thermoplastic components as well as graphene-enhanced coatings. Performance data from these customers indicate that MITO’s products could extend the limitations and improve recyclability of materials used in high performance applications.

Caio Lo Sardo, Head of Business Development, says, “We are committed to engaging with customers pushing the boundaries with their current offerings to offer a better tomorrow, together.Our product offerings will further enable formulators and manufacturers to make their fiber-reinforced thermosets and thermoplastics a more viable, higher performing option.

MITO Materials will take part in six leading international industry events:

• JEC World 2020, based in Paris, France (3-5 March 2020)
• Open Minds (19-21 March 2020)
• The American Coatings Show, based in Indianapolis (30 March – 02 April 2020)
• Bicentennial Sponsored Conference: Beyond Boundaries: Indiana Academies Symposium (3-4 April 2020)
• World Adhesives Conference (20-22 April 2020)
• SAMPE 2020, based in Seattle (4-7 May 2020), Dr. Bhishma Sedai will be presenting a technology paper at this event.

Tags:  Caio Lo Sardo  coatings  Graphene  MITO Material Solutions  Plastics  Polymer 

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Graphene Gives Aluminum-Based Explosives More Bang for the Buck

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, February 24, 2020
Researchers from the U.S. Army have discovered a new way to get more energy out of energetic materials containing aluminum: by coating them with graphene oxide.

This discovery coincides with the one of the Army’s modernization priorities: Long Range Precision Fires. The new fining could lead to more energetic metal powders as propellant/explosive ingredients in Army munitions.

Lauded as a miracle material, graphene is considered the strongest and lightest material in the world. It’s also the most conductive and transparent, and the most expensive to produce. Its applications are many, extending to electronics by enabling touchscreen laptops via light-emitting diode and organic light-emitting diode LCDs and OLED displays. But oxidizing graphite makes graphene oxide (GO) much less expensive to make.

Although GO is a popular two-dimensional material that has attracted intense interest across numerous disciplines and materials applications, this discovery exploits GO as an effective light-weight additive for practical energetic applications using micron-size aluminum powders (uAl)—i.e., aluminum particles one millionth of a meter in diameter. This new work signals the Army beginning to develop better metal propellant/explosive ingredients to protect more lives for the Army warfighters.

"Aluminum (Al) can theoretically release a large quantity of heat (as much as 31 kilojoules per gram) and is relatively cheap due to its natural abundance,” says Chi-Chin Wu of the Army Research Lab. “µAl powders have been widely used in energetic applications.

“However, it is difficult to ignite them using an optical flash lamp due to its poor light absorption,” Wu continues. “To improve its light absorption during ignition, it is often mixed with heavy metallic oxides which decrease the energetic performance.”

Nanometer-sized Al powders (i.e., one billionth of a meter in diameter) can be ignited more easily by a wide-area optical flash lamp , and they release heat much faster than can be achieved using conventional single-point methods such as hotwire ignition. Unfortunately, nanometer-sized Al powders are costly. The team did, however, demonstrate the value of uAl/GO composites as potential propellant/explosive ingredients. It showed that GO lets of uAl via an optical flash lamp, releasing more energy at a faster rate—thus significantly improving the energetic performance of µAl beyond that of the more expensive nanometer-sized Al powder. The team also discovered that the ignition and combustion of µAl powders can be controlled by varying the GO content to get the desired energy output.

Images showing the structure of the µAl/GO composite particles were obtained by high resolution transmission electron (TEM) microscopy. “It is exciting to see through advanced microscopy how a simple mechanical mixing process can wrap µAl particles in a GO sheet,” says Wu.

The researchers also discovered that GO increased the amount of µAl reacting in the microsecond timescale—a regime analogous to the release of explosive energy during a detonation.

Upon initiation of the uAl/GO composite with a pulsed laser using a technique called laser-induced air shock from energetic materials (LASEM), the exothermic reactions of the µAl/GO accelerated the resulting laser-induced shock velocity beyond that of pure µAl or pure GO. So µAl/GO composite can increase the power of military explosives, as well as enhance the combustion and blast effects. This could, therefore , lead to longer range and/or more lethal weapons.

Tags:  Army Research Lab  Chi-Chin Wu  coatings  composites  Graphene  graphene oxide 

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Does graphene cause or prevent the corrosion of copper? New study finally settles the debate

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, February 22, 2020
Copper has been essential to human technology since its early days--it was even used to make tools and weapons in ancient times. It is widely used even today, especially in electronic devices that require wiring. But, a challenge with using copper is that its surface oxidizes over time, even under ambient conditions, ultimately leading to its corrosion. And thus, finding a long-term method to protect the exposed surfaces of copper is a valuable goal. One common way of protecting metal surfaces is by coating them with anti-corrosive substances. Graphene is studied extensively as a candidate for anti-corrosive coating, as it serves as a barrier to gas molecules. But, despite these properties, graphene sheets are seen to protect copper from corrosion only over short periods (less than 24 hours). In fact, surprisingly, after this initial period, graphene appears to increase the rate of copper corrosion, which is completely in contrast to its anti-corrosive nature.

To shed light on the peculiar nature of graphene seen in copper, a research team from Chung-Ang University, Korea, led by Prof Hyungbin Son, studied graphene islands on a copper substrate to analyze the patterns of its corrosion. Prof Son explains, "Graphene is known to be mechanically very strong and impermeable to all gases, including hydrogen. Following studies claiming that the corrosion of copper substrates was accelerated under graphene through various defects, these properties have attracted great attention as an oxidation barrier for metals and have been controversial for over a decade. However, they have not been qualitatively investigated over longer time scales. Thus, we were motivated to study the role of graphene as a corrosion-resistant film at the graphene-copper interface." Prof Son and his team used Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and white light interferometry to observe the trends in copper corrosion for 30 days.

At first, the team detected corrosion developing at the edges, spreading the oxidized form of copper, copper oxide (Cu2O), at various defects such as edges, grain boundaries, and missing atoms. This resulted in the splitting of water vapor, supplying oxygen for the oxidation process, until the entire barrier seemed to be rendered useless and copper was fully corroded underneath. Owing to graphene's effect on ambient water vapor, the protected portion of the copper substrate was more corroded than the unprotected portion. Over time, the formation of Cu2O underneath the graphene sheet dispersed the strain and caused p-doping in graphene--creating a hybrid-like structure. But, after 13 days of exposure to ambient conditions, the team discovered something new. They observed that that the corrosion had significantly slowed down where a new hybrid of graphene and Cu2O layer had formed. Meanwhile, the unprotected copper continued to corrode at a consistent rate, until it had penetrated far deeper than the corrosion under the graphene shield.

These findings show that graphene, in fact, protects copper from deep, penetrating oxidation, unlike what previous studies had concluded. Prof Son explained, "We observed that over a longer time scale (more than 1 year), the graphene-Cu2O hybrid structure became a protective layer against oxidation. The area beyond the graphene was heavily oxidized with CuO, with a depth of ?270 nm."

This study has finally managed to settle the debate on whether graphene can be used to protect copper against oxidation. Prof Son concludes, "For nearly a decade, graphene's anti-corrosive properties have been controversial, with many studies suggesting that graphene accelerates the oxidation of copper (resulting in its corrosion). We have shown for the first time that the graphene-Cu2O hybrid structure, which forms over a long period, significantly slows down the oxidation of copper in the long term, as compared to bare copper."

Only time will reveal more about further applications of graphene as an anti-corrosive material. But one thing is certain--this research has potentially taken down several barriers in using graphene to extend the life of copper.

Tags:  Chung-Ang University  coatings  Corrosion  Graphene  graphene oxide  Hyungbin Son 

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CRIL wins EUR140,000 EU Graphene Flagship funding

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising university intellectual property, today announces that portfolio company Cambridge Raman Imaging Limited  has been awarded €140,000 by the European Union's Graphene Flagship to accelerate development of its innovative graphene-enabled scanning Raman microscope.

The Company, a spin out from the University of Cambridge and the Politecnico di Milano in Italy, was incorporated in March 2018 to develop and commercialise the joint work of both universities to create graphene-based ultra-fast lasers. Frontier IP owns 33.3 per cent of the Company.

Cambridge Raman Imaging is initially developing a Raman-imaging scanning microscope to diagnose and track tumors, and for other detection applications.

The technology uses graphene to modulate ultra-short pulses of light that can be synchronised in time and are much lower cost than conventional systems.

The Company's scanning microscope will target real-time digital images of fresh tissue samples to detect and show the extent of tumours, their response to drug treatments and to allow surgeons to see if a cancer has been completely removed.

Existing histopathology technologies mean samples taken from a patient must be stained and sent to a laboratory for analysis, including during operations. Cambridge Raman Imaging's lasers will be compact enough to use in an operating theatre, speeding up progress. The global market size for tumour analysis and tracking has been estimated to be £9 billion a year, according to Grandview Research.

Potential future applications include endoscopic examination, scanning body fluids for pathogens or tumour cells, and imaging semiconductors or proteins.

The Graphene Flagship is one of the largest research initiatives ever funded by the EU, tasked with bringing together academic and industrial researchers to take graphene from academia and into society.

Paul Mantle, Cambridge Raman Imaging director, said: "This technology has the potential to revolutionise patient care by giving the clinician accurate information on tumour type and response to treatment."

Neil Crabb, chief executive officer of Frontier IP Group, said: "Cambridge Raman Imaging is our first spin out to develop a graphene-based technology. Although the first applications are in healthcare, we believe there could be broader applications in other industries. We're delighted the EU Graphene Flagship recognises the potential of the technology with the grant award to accelerate its development "

Tags:  CRIL  Frontier IP  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  Healthcare  Medical  Neil Crabb  Paul Mantle 

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Fast-charging, long-running, bendy energy storage breakthrough

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, February 19, 2020
A new bendable supercapacitor made from graphene, which charges quickly and safely stores a record-high level of energy for use over a long period, has been developed and demonstrated by UCL and Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers.

While at the proof-of-concept stage, it shows enormous potential as a portable power supply in several practical applications including electric vehicles, phones and wearable technology.

The discovery, published today in Nature Energy, overcomes the issue faced by high-powered, fast-charging supercapacitors – that they usually cannot hold a large amount of energy in a small space.

First author of the study, Dr Zhuangnan Li (UCL Chemistry), said: “Our new supercapacitor is extremely promising for next-generation energy storage technology as either a replacement for current battery technology, or for use alongside it, to provide the user with more power.

“We designed materials which would give our supercapacitor a high power density – that is how fast it can charge or discharge – and a high energy density – which will determine how long it can run for. Normally, you can only have one of these characteristics but our supercapacitor provides both, which is a critical breakthrough.

“Moreover, the supercapacitor can bend to 180 degrees without affecting performance and doesn’t use a liquid electrolyte, which minimises any risk of explosion and makes it perfect for integrating into bendy phones or wearable electronics.”

A team of chemists, engineers and physicists worked on the new design, which uses an innovative graphene electrode material with pores that can be changed in size to store the charge more efficiently. This tuning maximises the energy density of the supercapacitor to a record 88.1 Wh/L (Watt-hour per litre), which is the highest ever reported energy density for carbon-based supercapacitors.

Similar fast-charging commercial technology has a relatively poor energy density of 5-8 Wh/L and traditional slow-charging but long-running lead-acid batteries used in electric vehicles typically have 50-90 Wh/L.

While the supercapacitor developed by the team has a comparable energy density to state-of-the-art value of lead-acid batteries, its power density is two orders of magnitude higher at over 10,000 Watt per litre.

Senior author and Dean of UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Professor Ivan Parkin (UCL Chemistry), said: “Successfully storing a huge amount of energy safely in a compact system is a significant step towards improved energy storage technology. We have shown it charges quickly, we can control its output and it has excellent durability and flexibility, making it ideal for development for use in miniaturised electronics and electric vehicles. Imagine needing only ten minutes to fully-charge your electric car or a couple of minutes for your phone and it lasting all day.”

The researchers made electrodes from multiple layers of graphene, creating a dense, but porous material capable of trapping charged ions of different sizes. They characterised it using a range of techniques and found it performed best when the pore sizes matched the diameter of the ions in the electrolyte.

The optimised material, which forms a thin film, was used to build a proof-of-concept device with both a high power and high energy density.

The 6cm x 6cm supercapacitor was made from two identical electrodes layered either side of a gel-like substance which acted as a chemical medium for the transfer of electrical charge. This was used to power dozens of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and was found to be highly robust, flexible and stable.

Even when bent at 180 degrees, it performed almost same as when it was flat, and after 5,000 cycles, it retained 97.8% of its capacity.

Senior author, Professor Feng Li (Chinese Academy of Sciences), said: “Over the next thirty years, the world of intelligent technology will accelerate, which will greatly change communication, transportation and our daily lives. By making energy storage smarter, devices will become invisible to us by working automatically and interactively with appliances. Our smart cells are a great example of how the user experience might be improved and they show enormous potential as portable power supply in future applications.”

Tags:  Chinese Academy of Sciences  Electric Vehicle  Energy Storage  Feng li  Graphene  Ivan Parkin  Supercapacitor  University College London  Zhuangnan Li 

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Thomas Swan announce successful Graphene application collaboration with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd., one of the UK’s leading independent chemical manufacturers, today announced that the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester have produced a fibre using Polyamide 6 and 0.2% loading of Thomas Swan Graphene Nanoplatelets (GNP’s).
 
GEIC successfully extruded and subsequently spun 1.5km of the fibre with 0.39mm diameter. This bodes well for continuing our development of graphene in Nanocomposites and shows positive traction for Thomas Swan’s commitment to Advanced Materials R&D, specifically graphene. Typical applications for this type of monofibre include carbon brushes for motors, seat belts or fishing lines.

Michael Edwards, Commercial Director – Advanced Materials at Thomas Swan said “this is yet another example of the use of our GNP in nanocomposite applications. We will continue our collaboration with the GEIC to enhance the range of polymeric solutions available for various application examples, demonstrating our continued commitment to graphene production”.
 
John Vickers, Application Specialist at GEIC said “The fibre reel was manufactured at the GEIC facility at The University of Manchester, using the Xplore fibre spin line. The Line can produce fibres at a speed of 0.5 to 90 M/min via a controlled Godet. The picture shows a fibre diameter of 0.39mm (monofilament) with 0.2% graphene addition in a PA6 polymer. The Xplore fibre spin line has the capability of spinning materials down to typically 50 microns, subject to formulation.”

Tags:  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  John Vickers  Michael Edwards  nanocomposites  polymers  Thomas Swan 

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'Atomic dance' reveals new insights into performance of 2D materials

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, February 17, 2020
A team of Northwestern University materials science researchers have developed a new method to view the dynamic motion of atoms in atomically thin 2D materials. The imaging technique, which reveals the underlying cause behind the performance failure of a widely used 2D material, could help researchers develop more stable and reliable materials for future wearables and flexible electronic devices.

These 2D materials - such as graphene and borophene - are a class of single-layer, crystalline materials with widespread potential as semiconductors in advanced ultra-thin, flexible electronics. Yet due to their thin nature, the materials are highly sensitive to external environments, and have struggled to demonstrate long-term stability and reliability when utilized in electronic devices.

"Atomically thin 2D materials offer the potential to dramatically scale down electronic devices, making them an attractive option to power future wearable and flexible electronics," said Vinayak Dravid, Abraham Harris Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering.

The study, titled "Direct Visualization of Electric Field induced Structural Dynamics in Monolayer Transition Metal Dichalcogenides," was published on February 11 in the journal ACS Nano. Dravid is the corresponding author on the paper. Chris Wolverton, the Jerome B. Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, also contributed to the research.

"Unfortunately, electronic devices now operate as a kind of 'black box.' Although device metrics can be measured, the motion of single atoms within the materials responsible for these properties is unknown, which greatly limits efforts to improve performance," added Dravid, who serves as director of the Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization (NUANCE) Center. The research allows a way to move past that limitation with a new understanding of the structural dynamics at play within 2D materials receiving electrical voltage.

Building upon a previous study in which the researchers used a nanoscale imaging technique to observe failure in 2D materials caused by heat, the team used a high-resolution, atomic-scale imaging method called electron microscopy to observe the movement of atoms in molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a well-studied material originally used as a dry lubricant in greases and friction materials that has recently gained interest for its electronic and optical properties. When the researchers applied an electric current to the material, they observed its highly mobile sulfur atoms move continuously to vacant areas in the crystalline material, a phenomenon they dubbed, "atomic dance."

That movement, in turn, caused the MoS2's grain boundaries -- a natural defect created in the space where two crystallites within the material meet-- to separate, forming narrow channels for the current to travel through.

"As these grain boundaries separate, you are left with only a couple narrow channels, causing the density of the electrical current through these channels to increase," said Akshay Murthy, a PhD student in Dravid's group and the lead author on the study. "This leads to higher power densities and higher temperatures in those regions, which ultimately leads to failure in the material."

"It's powerful to be able to see exactly what's happening on this scale," Murthy continued. "Using traditional techniques, we could apply an electric field to a sample and see changes in the material, but we couldn't see what was causing those changes. If you don't know the cause, it's difficult to eliminate failure mechanisms or prevent the behavior going forward."

With this new way to study 2D materials at the atomic level, the team believes researchers could use this imaging approach to synthesize materials that are less susceptible to failure in electronic devices. In memory devices, for example, researchers could observe how regions where information is stored evolve as electric current is applied and adapt how those materials are designed for better performance.

The technique could also help improve a host of other technologies, from transistors in bioelectronics to light emitting diodes (LEDs) in consumer electronics to photovoltaic cells that comprise solar panels.

"We believe the methodology we have developed to monitor how 2D materials behave under these conditions will help researchers overcome ongoing challenges related to device stability," Murthy said. "This advance brings us one step closer to moving these technologies from the lab to the marketplace."

Tags:  2D materials  Akshay Murthy  Chris Wolverton  Electronics  Graphene  Northwestern University  Vinayak Dravid 

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