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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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Nanotech SME and University of Sussex team up with Walmart to reduce retail waste

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Nanomaterial specialists Advanced Material Development (AMD) and researchers from the University of Sussex Business School have teamed up with Walmart to examine and develop the impact of bringing an innovative solution into retail supply chains, significantly reducing metal waste.

The project will be funded via a grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the National Productivity Investment Fund. It follows the recent £8 million ESRC investment into the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre.

The funded project will examine the employment consequences of the development, adoption and implementation of new environmentally friendly digital technologies; in this case Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags in the retail sector. Material scientist Professor Alan Dalton and his team have created an alternative to the traditional metal tags on clothing and food by developing antennas based on graphene inks.

John Lee, CEO of AMD, said: “Our work at Sussex in the field of highly conductive inks has partly been driven by demands from the retail industry searching for a sustainable solution in the replacement of metal content in RFID antennas. We are continuing to improve our technology for our partners in this space, with a possible large-scale print trial this year. The opportunity to work with a company with the global impact and sustainability reputation of Walmart is a substantial boost for us, and testament to the potential value of this innovation.”

AMD has recently announced a £1.5m equity funding round as the company further extends its nano-material research and development operations. It will also support its government and industry partnerships in Europe and the US. The business has now incorporated in the United States and formed an office presence in the Washington metropolitan area.

“This is a key development in the AMD business plan,” said John Lee. “The U.S. effort has been the key thrust for our business in the last year and our success to date is notable. Our partners have urged us to establish a local presence and we now see this to be just the start of a huge growth opportunity for the company.”

Professor Alan Dalton from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex said: “The nanotech ink we create in our lab has loads of important, sustainable applications. We’re excited that our world-leading research has paved the way for Walmart and other retailers to bin metal-dependent tags and replace them with our much more eco-friendly answer. There’s no need now for the old-fashioned supermarket tags of the past to populate landfill sites.”

As part of the project, social sciences and management studies academics will examine the learning process from product development to implementation and its impact on labour requirements and productivity. The global RFID market was estimated to be worth US$11bn in 2018, and is predicted to increase to US$13.4bn by 2022.

Professor Jackie O’Reilly, Co-Director for the new Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (digit-research.org), said: “This is a fantastically exciting project. It is a unique opportunity to work with brilliant physics researchers to understand their world and what they create; to understand how these hard science ideas are exported into the business world; and to understand how these decisions affect the way work is constructed and what kinds of jobs people get as a result of major companies adopting these new technologies."

Tags:  Advanced Material Development  Alan Dalton  Graphene  Jackie O’Reilly  John Lee  nanomaterials  RFID  University of Sussex 

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NUST MISIS: New Graphene-Based Material to Extend Life of Storage Devices

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, February 11, 2020
International group of Russian and Japanese scientists developed a material that will significantly increase the recording density in data storage devices, such as SSDs and flash drives. Among the main advantages of the material is the absence of rewrite limit, which will allow implementing new devices for Big Data processes. The article on the research is published in Advanced Materials.

The development of compact and reliable memory devices is an increasing need. Today, traditional devices are devices in which information is transferred through electric current. The simplest example is a flash card or SSD. At the same time, users inevitably encounter problems: the file may not be recorded correctly, the computer may stop "seeing" the flash drive, and to record a large amount of information, rather massive devices are required.

A promising alternative to electronics is spintronics. In spintronics, devices operate on the principle of magnetoresistance: there are three layers, the first and third of which are ferromagnetic, and the middle one is nonmagnetic. Passing through such a "sandwich" structure, electrons, depending on their spin, are scattered differently in the magnetized edge layers, which affects the resulting resistance of the device. The control the information using the standard logical bits, 0 and 1, can be performed by detecting an increase or decrease in this resistance.

International group of scientists from National University of Science and Technology MISIS (Russia) and National Institute for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology (Japan) developed a material that can significantly increase the capacity of magnetic memory by increasing the recording density. The scientists used a combination of graphene and the semi-metallic Heusler alloy Co2FeGaGe.

"Japanese colleagues for the first time grew a single-atom layer of graphene on a layer of semi-metallic ferromagnetic material and measured its properties. The Japanese team, led by Dr. Seiji Sakai, conducts unique experiments, while our group is engaged in a theoretical description of the data obtained. Our teams have been working together for many years and have obtained a number of important results," comments Pavel Sorokin, Sc.D. in Physics and Mathematics, head of the "Theoretical Materials Science of Nanostructures" infrastructure project at the NUST MISIS Laboratory of Inorganic Nanomaterials.

Previously, graphene was not used in magnetic memory devices as carbon atoms reacted with the magnetic layer, which led to changes in its properties. By careful selection of the Heusler alloy composition, as well as the methods of its application, it was possible to create a thinner sample compared to previous analogues. This, in turn, will significantly increase the capacity of magnetic memory devices without increasing their physical size. Next, scientists plan to scale the experimental sample and modify the structure.

Tags:  Electronics  Graphene  nanomaterials  NUST MISIS  Pavel Sorokin  Seiji Sakai 

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Zen Graphene Solutions Announces Grand Opening of Guelph Facility for Graphene Materials Production and Development

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, February 8, 2020
ZEN Graphene Solutions is pleased to announce the grand opening of its Guelph facility on March 3, 2020. The facility will be used for small scale pilot plant production to produce future Albany Pure TM graphene products as well as further research and development work. All shareholders and interested parties are invited to attend. The Guelph facility is located at 24 Corporate Court, Guelph, Ontario. The opening will start at 1pm with an opportunity to meet with management, look at the lab facilities and attend a formal presentation at 3pm.

The company is currently sourcing and purchasing the necessary equipment to build a small-scale graphite purification pilot plant that will produce 99.8% high-purity graphite from the flotation concentrate (86%). James Jordan, P.Eng., has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer and will be leading the work at the facility.

"This new facility will move the Company towards the production and sale of Albany Pure TM graphene products and introduce our high-quality nanomaterials to the market. Albany Pure TM will be our marketing seal to identify that all our products are sourced from the Albany deposit. We look forward to bringing our nanomaterials including Graphene Quantum Dots, Graphene Oxide, reduced Graphene Oxide and Graphene to the market." Stated Francis Dubé, CEO.

As the Company moves forward towards graphene production and applications development, ZEN is pleased to announce that Colin van der Kuur has been appointed as Head of Research for ZEN, and Monique Manaigre has been appointed as Senior Government Relations and Account Manager for ZEN.

On May 8, 2019, ZEN was awarded a $1,000,000 grant that has allowed the Company to accelerate its graphene-enhanced concrete research and development project. To date, the Company has received a total of $465,000 in reimbursement payments related to this grant as ZEN continues its research into graphite purification, graphene production research, concrete additive research and large-scale graphene-enhanced concrete testing.

Shares for Debt Settlement
ZEN announces the issuance of shares in connection with its previously announced shares for debt agreement with Alphabet Creative. The Company issued 47,222 common shares at a deemed price of $0.36 per common share in settlement of a debt of $17,000 owed by the Company. The common shares issued in connection with the shares for debt agreement will be subject to a hold period until May 1, 2020 in accordance with applicable securities laws.

Issuance of Broker Warrants
Further to the Company's previously announced closing of its private placement of flow-through common shares, an aggregate amount of $54,840 in finders' fees as well as an aggregate amount of 137,100 broker warrants were paid to certain brokers in connection to the offering. These broker warrants expire on December 19, 2021 and have an exercise price of $0.50 per warrant share.

Tags:  Colin van der Kuur  Francis Dubé  Graphene  James Jordan  nanomaterials  ZEN Graphene Solutions 

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Blue sky inking: How nanomaterials could lower retail waste and speed up the stock take

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, February 6, 2020
As part of the new £8 million ESRC investment in Digital Futures at Work Research Centre, University of Sussex academics and an innovative SME have teamed up with the world's largest retail company to understand how quantum digital technology could revolutionise employment in the retail sector and significantly reduce metal waste.

University academics and Advanced Material Development (AMD) are working with Quantum Physics researchers, sociologists at the University of Sussex Business School digit centre and Walmart to understand how more environmentally-friendly radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are developed, implemented and affect employment in the retail sector.

Materials scientist Professor Alan Dalton and his team have created an alternative to metal tags on clothing and food by developing antennas based on graphene inks which can be printed onto paper creating a sustainable solution to an essential part of the retail supply chain.

As part of the project, social sciences and management studies academics from the Digit Centre at the University of Sussex Business School will examine the learning process from product development to implementation and its impact on labour requirements and productivity.

Professor Alan Dalton from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex said: "The nanotech ink we create in our lab has loads of important, sustainable applications.

"We're excited that our world-leading research has paved the way for Walmart and other retailers to bin metal-dependent tags and replace them with our much more eco-friendly answer.

"There's no need now for the old fashioned supermarket tags of the past to populate landfill sites." The global RFID market was estimated to be worth US$11bn in 2018, and is predicted to increase to US$13.4bn by 2022.

Graphene-based nanomaterial inks, where the individual components are invisible to the human eye, have been developed as coatings which could replace metals in RFID systems and which can be applied to a range of surfaces using commercial printing techniques such as ink-jet, screen and flexographic.

The capability of the inks are also being expanded through the application of a quantum microscope - developed and constructed by the Sussex Programme for Quantum Research.

John Lee, CEO of AMD, said: "Our work at Sussex in the field of highly conductive inks has partly been driven by demands from the retail industry searching for a sustainable solution in the replacement of metal content in RFID antennas.

"We are continuing to improve our technology for our partners in this space, with a possible large scale print trial this year, and the opportunity to work with a company with the global impact and sustainability reputation of Walmart is a substantial boost and support of the need for us."

AMD has recently announced a £1.5m equity funding round as the company further extends its nanomaterial research and development operations. It will also support its government and industry partnerships in Europe and the US.

Professor Jackie O'Reilly, Co-Director for the new Digital Futures at Work Research Centre at the University of Sussex Business School, said: "The potential for this technology is huge.

"Implementation of RFID systems can transform supply chain efficiencies for large companies with complex supplier bases and can significantly reduce inventory count time from hundreds to a handful of hours.

"While this is hugely beneficial for companies, there is clearly the potential for huge consequences on employment rates, worker satisfaction and wellbeing that need to be adequately investigated.

"This is a unique opportunity to work with brilliant physics researchers to understand their world and what they create; to understand how these hard core science ideas are exported into the business world; and to understand how these?decisions?affect the way work is constructed and what kinds of jobs people get as a result of major companies adopting these new technologies."

Tags:  Advanced Material Development  Alan Dalton  biomaterials  Graphene  John Lee  nanomaterials  RFID  University of Sussex 

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Well-designed substrates make large single crystal bi-/tri-layer graphene possible

Posted By Graphene Council, Sunday, January 26, 2020
Researchers of the Center for Multidimensional Carbon Materials (CMCM) within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS, South Korea) have reported in Nature Nanotechnology the fabrication and use of single crystal copper-nickel alloy foil substrates for the growth of large-area, single crystal bilayer and trilayer graphene films.

The growth of large area graphene films with a precisely controlled numbers of layers and stacking orders can open new possibilities in electronics and photonics but remains a challenge. This study showed the first example of the synthesis of bi- and trilayer graphene sheets larger than a centimeter, with layers piled up in a specific manner, namely AB- and ABA-stacking.

“This work provides materials for the fabrication of graphene devices with novel functions that have not yet been realized and might afford new photonic and optoelectronic and other properties,” explains Rodney S. Ruoff, CMCM Director, Distinguished Professor at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and leading author of this study. Coauthor and Professor Won Jong Yoo of Sungkyunkwan University notes that “this paves the way for the study of novel electrical transport properties of bilayer and trilayer graphene.”

For example, the same IBS research group and collaborators recently published another paper in Nature Nanotechnology showing the conversion of AB-stacked bilayer graphene film, grown on copper/nickel (111) alloy foils (Cu/Ni(111) foils), to a diamond-like sheet, known as diamane. Coauthor Pavel V. Bakharev notes that: “Less than one year ago, we produced fluorinated diamond monolayer, F-diamane, by fluorination of exactly the AB-stacked bilayer graphene films described in this new paper. Now the possibility of producing bilayer graphene of a larger size brings renewed excitement and shows how fast this field is developing.”

The right choice of substrate is essential for the correct growth of graphene. Foils made only of copper limit the growth of bilayer graphene and favor uniform monolayer growth. It is possible to obtain multilayer graphene sheets on nickel film, but these are not uniform, and tend to have small “patches” with different thicknesses. Finally, the commercially available foils that contain both nickel and copper are not ideal. Therefore, IBS researchers prepared ‘home-made’ single crystal Cu/Ni(111) foils with desired features, building further on a technique reported by the group in Science in 2018. Nickel films are electroplated onto copper(111)-foils so that the nickel and copper interdiffuse when heated and yield a new single crystal foil that contains both elements at adjustable ratios. Ruoff suggested this method and supervised Ming Huang’s evaluations of the best concentrations of nickel to obtain uniform graphene sheets with the desired number of layers.

IBS researchers grew bi- and tri-layer graphene sheets on Cu/Ni(111) foils by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Huang achieved AB-stacked bilayer graphene films of several square centimeters, covering 95% of the substrate area, and ABA-stacked trilayer graphene with more than 60% areal coverage. This represents the first growth of high coverage ABA-stacked trilayer graphene over a large area and the best quality obtained for AB-stacked bilayer graphene so far.

In addition to extensive spectroscopic and microscopic characterizations, the researchers also measured the electrical transport (carrier mobility and band gap tunability) and thermal conductivity of the newly synthesized graphene. The centimeter-scale bilayer graphene films showed a good thermal conductivity, as high as ~2300 W/mK (comparable with exfoliated bilayer graphene flakes), and mechanical performance (stiffness of 478 gigapascals for the Young’s modulus, and 3.31 gigapascals for the fracture strength).

The team then investigated the growth stacking mechanism and discovered it follows the so-called “inverted wedding cake” sequence as the bottom layers are positioned after the top one. “We showed with three independent methods that the 2nd layer for bilayer graphene, and the 2nd and 3rd layers of the trilayer sheet grow beneath a continuous top layer. These methods can be further used to study the structure and stacking sequence of other 2D thin film materials,” notes Huang.

Ruoff notes that these techniques for synthesizing and testing large-scale ultrathin films could stimulate worldwide interest in further experimenting with single crystal Cu/Ni alloy foils, and even in exploring fabrication and use of other single crystal alloy foils. This research was performed in collaboration with UNIST and Sungkyunkwan University.

Tags:  2D materials  Center for Multidimensional Carbon Materials  Graphene  Institute for Basic Science  nanomaterials  nanotechnology  Rodney S. Ruoff 

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Thomas Swan awarded funding from Innovate UK to further improve its graphene products

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd., one of the UK’s leading independent chemical manufacturers, today announced that it has been awarded funding from Innovate UK, under the Analysis for Innovators programme. The funding will support a project to develop a QC method for determining the aspect ratio for graphene nanoplatelets (GNP), working with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK’s National Metrology Institute and a World-renowned centre of excellence.

Thomas Swan is a global leader in the manufacture of carbon nanomaterials and 2D materials through patented high-shear liquid phase exfoliation technology. The ability to produce different variants and forms of graphene is of huge significance to Thomas Swan. In order to achieve this ambition, high aspect ratio graphene materials must be produced.

The grant aims to enhance Thomas Swan’s ability to measure the aspect ratio of its graphene products, which is currently done using their suite of SEM, PSD, Raman and other methods. The programme will focus on the Elicarb® GNP product line currently offered by Thomas Swan.

The project will allow Thomas Swan to become even more competitive in the field, by offering its customers a quick and cost-effective tool to improve the level of characterisation of its GNP products and therefore guaranteeing a higher quality and consistency of its materials. Furthermore, this will increase the number of options available to customers, resulting in the delivery of more refined products, allowing Thomas Swan to compete more effectively in areas of UK-focused innovation such as the nanocomposites, lubricants and battery materials application areas.

Michael Edwards, Commercial Director – Advanced Materials at Thomas Swan said, “being able to continue our close collaboration with the NPL means that we can maintain our high standard of product characterisation, integrity and quality which is paramount in the volume materials manufacturing business”.

Keith Paton, Senior Research Scientist at NPL said “this is a fantastic opportunity to apply the measurement capability developed at NPL to support UK industry to improve productivity and product quality. We are looking forward to working with Thomas Swan to deliver improved quality control measurement techniques to monitor the graphene nanoplatelet aspect ratio”

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Innovate UK  Keith Paton  Michael Edwards  nanocomposites  nanomaterials  National Physical Laboratory  Thomas Swan 

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Advanced Material Development announces £1.5M funding round and Incorporates in the U.S.

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Advanced Material Development Ltd is pleased to announce it has raised in excess of £1.5M in new equity funding to further extend its nano-material research and development operations and support its government and industry partnerships in Europe and the US.

CEO John Lee said: “We are delighted to have received such strong support from both existing and new shareholders in this latest round of funding. This enables the company to extend a number of our existing projects and expedite those moving towards application and commercial outcomes with a rapidly expanding number of partner engagements.”

Advanced Material Development (AMD) is delighted to announce it has now incorporated in the United States and established an office presence in the Washington metropolitan area.

AMD CEO John Lee says “This is a key development in the AMD business plan. The U.S. effort has been the key thrust for our business in the last year and our success to date is notable. Our partners have urged us to establish a local presence and we now see this to be just the start of a huge growth opportunity for the company”

Tags:  Advanced Material Development  Graphene  John Lee  nanomaterials 

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Accelerating Graphene’s Commercial Deployment

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, January 13, 2020
Updated: Friday, January 10, 2020
Guest Editorial from Dr. Francis Nedvidek, Faculty of Science at the Technical University of Dresden

After initial isolation in 2004 and a decade and one-half of follow-on discovery, material research and process development, only a trickle of graphene enhanced applications have reached the market. In spite of huge progress and critical advances the so called “killer applications” have yet to appear. Commercial deployment of nanoplatelet graphene, not to mention a cohort of emerging 2D materials, face three challenges.

The first and most obvious obstacle is a consequence of graphene’s newness. Harnessing novel functionality entails painstaking searches for new recipes, non-standard ingredients and adaptation of processes, manufacturing methods and industrial infrastructure. The second hurdle relates to graphene’s assimilation into industrial scale processes and supply and distribution networks. The third challenge demands rigorous focus on the applications where customers unambiguously recognize graphene’s unique value and for which graphene-enabled solutions eclipse all contenders.

Commercial graphene-enhanced products are penetrating niche markets with formulations demonstrating cost to performance ratios decisively better than the alternatives. And the production and supply issues impeding broader commercial development of graphene-based materials - including quantity, consistency, dependability, standardized characterization, certification, traceability and purity - are being remedied. Never-the-less, the number of deployments in high-volume graphene-enhanced application remains modest.

Let’s delve deeper into why this is so; and, then explore ways to accelerate graphene’s wider-adoption.

1) Building a Better Product Using Graphene – A View from the Material Engineering Lab
Nanomaterials – to the dismay of material engineers and production plant managers - store, transport, mix and behave markedly differently from their bulk material counterparts. Not only is the graphene nano-platelet characteristically distinct from the precursor graphite, but specific flake size, topology, and nuances of compound constitution and processing particulars influence nearly every aspect of how the material performs in the final application. At best, bulk material recipes serve only - but in not all cases - as rough starting points from which to begin iterative “expeditions” into uncharted design and engineering territory. Exploiting graphene’s exemplary properties requires iteratively investigating, testing and re-evaluating formulations, modifying existing processes, and adapting contemporary production equipment.

Figure 1 - A generalized development plan for graphene material applications

2) Harnessing Graphene as Enabler

Creating a graphene-enhanced compound typically begins with selection of a specific nanoplatelet profile of lateral size, thickness, defect density, purity and topology. Functionalization, in most instances, plays a pivotal role in dispersion and therefore the molecular bonds and structures assembled within the graphene-doped host matrix which impact the properties of the final and end product. Single digit % by weight graphene concentrations (and often less than 1% by weight) are common making process precision and consistency crucial. Commercially available matrix substances (typically polymers), various bulk ingredients and chemical additives are mixed per specified quantity and according to one, or a combination of, mechanical sheer milling, ultrasonic agitation or pressurization etc., techniques. Processing duration, extrusion method and temperature are just a few of the parameters adjusted during injection molding, thermal-set molding, spin drawing, aerosol spraying, dip coating, adsorption, relief printing etc. to yield the desired end component or product. All data including recipe, ingredient concentrations, process parameters are meticulously registered both quantitatively and qualitatively. The front end of the procedure appears in the graphic of Figure 2 below.

Figure 2 – Data collection in graphene formulation discovery

The network of Figure 3 below depicts material selection, ingredient integration, processing, preparation evaluation and the filtering of outcomes cascades through a maze of options. The exercise begins with selection of the graphene supply and proceeds though to completion of a selection of final compounds or a final product. Successive attempts are sorted according to ingredient constellation, concentration level, process parameter regime etc. The outcomes most closely approaching the desired product performance and estimated per unit production cost are used for subsequent trials.

Figure 3 – Recipe discovery - a labyrinth of options

Progressive iterations eventually coalesce into a small number of potentially most suitable “material recipes and process regimes”. Further refinements culminate in material assays, sub-component samples or final product prototypes demonstrating the characteristics, behavior, supply chain ecosystem fit and benchmark economic prerequisites before undertaking scale production of the winning viable intermediate component or the end product.

3) Solve Problems & Satisfy Needs with Graphene-Enhanced Materials
A formidable assortment of options and combinations of ingredients and procedures conspire to create a graphene-enhanced product destined for use as a vehicle component, battery electrode, integrated sensor module, anticorrosion chassis coating, rubber seal or auto dashboard – or even piece of sporting gear. Formulations, masterbatches and intermediate components may be marketed/sold separately to end up in any number of downstream products and applications. The Figure 4 below displays the major product development activities according to relevant development stages.

Figure 4 - The value creation chain for a graphene-enhanced product.

The arches traversing individual upstream and downstream value creation stages represent enquiries, specification requests, test protocols, parts, components, software code and exchange of standard business documentation. This bi-directional flow of human liaisons including problem solving sessions, teleconferences, schedule update meetings and business and industry forecast exchanges ricochet between partners and among collaborators. Each link of the chain represents an enterprise bound to reconcile its own technical, operational, and logistic capabilities and economic obligations. Close and dynamic collaboration is vital in charting routes through the network promising the best chance for success of individual contributors and the end user solution.

Figure 5 below illustrates the perspective of the graphene technologists peering downstream in search of problems in need of solving. They are eager to monetize exceptional effort, personal risk, patented intellectual property and acquired know how.

Figure 5 – View from the engineering lab

Improved functionality, reduced cost of ownership, appropriate certification, higher income garnering potential etc. must render value exceeding the price in light of alternative approaches including compensation for perceived risk, switching cost or similar disadvantages. However, if the inventive engineers lack information pertaining to the end customer’s problems, needs or wants, they may not be able to precisely identify the ultimate customer or enduser.

4) Problems, Needs and Unidentified Opportunities

Customers purchasing graphene enhanced products or materials expect to enjoy or otherwise benefit from the utility generated from these graphene-enhanced products. Owing to good luck, fortuitous contacts and helpful channels via suppliers, sales agents and distribution partners, a development team can gain at least some understanding of how graphene serves the application and lends value and satisfaction to end customers. Figure 6 portrays the customer’s viewpoint.

Figure 6 – View from the customer

The benefits of graphene are diverse and varied and determined by the appraisal of the product’s functional and economic attributes by the customer and buying influencers. Cost savings, space savings, flexibility of use, physical attractiveness, prestige, ease of maintenance, product safety, peace of mind and enhanced value and finally desirability in terms of the customer’s customers are a few examples of value. An enterprise selling / delivering the value is rewarded in terms of purchase price, future repurchases, volume orders, collaborative relationships, ecosystem intelligence etc.

In the case of graphene or other novel or disruptive technologically driven innovations, any departure from standard application methods, practices or fulfillment models requires increased attention to issues not encumbering traditional or entrenched competitors – initially. Particularly for graphene, prospects with potential to disburse large orders reciprocally demand delivery quantities and lead times unattainable for shops not yet operating at industrial sale. Conversely, suppliers of ingredients, plant and equipment tend to eschew new enterprises lacking financial gravitas. Instead, innovative companies must play to their strengths: flexibility, speed and readiness to work collaboratively in revealing, inventing, testing and fine-tuning formulations and products that address the customer’s needs, mitigating the user’s problems in ways competing offers cannot. Figure 7 below summarizes how the innovator views the endeavor and the customer considers purchasing the graphene-enhanced product.

Figure 7 – Successful Innovation and the Meeting of Minds

5) Problems, Needs and Unidentified Opportunities

How does one acquire a relevant and unambiguous overview of the utility, benefit and advantages graphene products should target? Market studies offer a perspective of industry fundamentals, market size and trends, existing benchmarks and statistics. Trade shows and industry events provide information regarding the ecosystem’s competitive landscape, technological progress and future developments. However, speaking directly with customers represented by Product Managers, CTOs, Marketing Managers and Distribution Partners confers more specific and highly relevant detail. And building relationships with customer groups as well as other stakeholders proves immeasurably helpful in uncovering latent needs, unappreciated deficiencies and previously unarticulated insights.

Interactions with customers as well as upstream and downstream value chain stakeholders including suppliers, service providers and manufacturing partners typically yields highly useful information concerning production methods, process short cuts, unexpected and unexpressed potential for cost savings or unrealized means for improving product quality, logistics or utility that are normally inaccessible to laboratory denizens. Even financiers may lend assistance through discussing strategy in terms of key industry metrics, opening doors to export prospects or building bridges to large buyer consortiums and industry clusters.

Most importantly, direct interfacing and repeated interaction with value chain stakeholders - from suppliers to endusers, installers and support services – offers valuable observations and breeds trust and collaboration. A much broader and deeper reserve of know-how, skills and information may be brought to bear in seizing the maximum portion of problem space with valuable, practicable and profitable solutions, as depicted in Figure 8.

Figure 8 – Successful Innovation - a Meeting of Minds, Technology and Resources

6) Lessons Learning

Three major issues have come to light during attempts to commercialize graphene-based solutions directed at real world problems and inadequacies. Successful market innovations combine and integrate the know-how and capabilities of graphene scientists together with value chain partners to solve the customer’s problem. Value is generated and equitably distributed sufficient to incentivize all stakeholders and customers to perpetuate collaboration, production and further innovation.

Figure 9 displays the three areas where proficiency becomes vital in successfully bringing graphene-enhanced products to markets and individual customers and clients.

Figure 9 The Sweet Spot Driving Collaborative Commercially Successful Innovation

a) Technical: Solving practical problems and grasping exciting opportunities demands technically feasible, stable and scalable solutions, whether materials, formulations, compounds, components or end products.

b) Business Case: The process of delivering solutions using graphene must be economically and commercially sound and sustainable for all value creation chain contributors from the graphene supplier to the final purchaser. This holds true across contributors; viable business case must hold for each stage.

c) Stakeholders: Developing, producing and then scaling novel materials and products requires the combined interest, commitment, investment and ideas only achievable via concerted collaborative engagement and mutual reward. A team approach is essential to overcome challenges at each stage progressing from raw material to actual application and final recycling.

Graphene nanoplatelets are a substance unlike the bulk material graphite from which it is made, or like other bulk materials used in traditional product design. At an advanced level, exploiting the functional possibilities of graphene, (electrical conductivity, tensile strength, chemical affinity and compatibility with multilaminar plastic extrusion techniques, etc.) is ONLY achieved through exemplary collaboration.

7) Conclusion

Three observations are noteworthy. They allude to different ways of managing teams, dealing with uncertainty and discovering what and how products earn their worth. The journey from the lab to installation in the latest model of automobiles is a longer and more tortious path for graphene products than it has been for traditional materials. The skills threshold has been raised for business development and product management professionals orchestrating commercialization. Re-training with new conceptual tools and software aids is on the agenda for the entire team stretching from development laboratory to the end user. A refurbished and invigorated organizational dynamic will be needed to meet the challenge.

a) Graphene is a multifaceted and complex material demanding engineering ingenuity to unleash its potential. Intermediaries further down the value creation chain applying conventional equipment to fashion contemporary materials must learn to experiment, adapt, improvise and collaborate;

b) Graphene pioneers must strive via all possible means and channels to understand the process prerequisites, performance expectations and appreciated worth of innovations in the eyes of the customer, enduser but also intermediate value chain partners. The ability to deliver value to customers depends as much on uncovering and serving latent opportunities as solving salient customer urgent problems lucrative opportunities.

c) No catalogue of graphene formulations combined with common and exotic matrix materials, additives, process methods and forming techniques presently exists. Working as an extended team between vendor and customer, service provider and users along the span of the manufacturing network is vital to navigating the path toward launching commercially successful next generation of functional materials.

Tags:  2D materials  Francis Nedvidek  Graphene  Graphite  Material Engineering Lab  Nanomaterials  University of Dresden 

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Graphene Flagship Partner Avanzare Named SME of the Year

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, November 21, 2019

Avanzare Innovación Tecnológica is a manufacturer of nanomaterials and advanced materials, as well as the European leader in graphene. Established in 2004 following the initial isolation of graphene, this research and development centre is at a pivotable point in its timeline, as tangible graphene products are fast becoming industrialised and commercialised across Spain.

"The award illustrates the progress in commercialising graphene through our innovation efforts across the Graphene Flagship," said Kari Hjelt, Graphene Flagship Head of Innovation. "Graphene has the unique capability to enhance multiple product attributes concurrently, which is nicely demonstrated in the different products from Avanzare. This award exemplifies the potential of graphene-based technologies to create value and transform businesses." 

Domingo Mendi, Institutional Manager at Banco Santander and one of the members of the jury, says that "Avanzare's results were impressive, their sales grew by 33% last year, and their workforce keeps expanding, creating a very positive impact in the region. Moreover, their international expansion is unstoppable: Avanzare now has three foreign offices—in China, India and Malaysia—and exports their products to 39 countries."

The jury also valued Avanzare's strong involvement with European projects such as the Graphene Flagship. "Finding key European partners and research collaborators was certainly key to the success of Avanzare, which has managed to bring innovations in graphene and related materials from the lab to the fab," adds Mendi.

In 2018, Avanzare Innovación Tecnológica generated approximately 4.5 million euros in funding, a feat attributed to its staff located across China, India and Malaysia, most of which are university graduates.

"Avanzare receiving the best SME award recognizes that we are a highly competitive company, capable of competing in international markets and generating profits," explained Julio Gomez Corden, Founder and CEO of Avanzare Innovación Tecnológica.

 


"In 2008 we received the National Entrepreneur Award, which recognized our potential. Eleven years later, we have received this award as a more mature company able to compete in the real market. This recognition for Avanzare demonstrates that graphene and its nanocomposites have tangible benefits in a lucrative market."

Avanzare Innovación Tecnológica is now eligible to win the National SME of the year award, a title which will be selected from the regional winners in Madrid in 2020.

Tags:  Avanzare Innovación Tecnológica  Banco Santander  Domingo Mendi  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  Julio Gomez Corden  Kari Hjelt  nanomaterials 

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