In his recent profile in +Plastic Electronics, Jon Myers of Graphene Technologies talks about transitioning from the lab to industrial scale. Graphene Technologies is one of the key supporters of the upcoming Graphene World Summit 2014 - September 15-16 in Berkeley, CA.
Graphene has become a much-touted topic, thanks to headline-grabbing research - but few efforts to commercialise the material to date have manifested results measuring up to the exciting data produced by researchers.
Jon Myers, Graphene Technologies CEO, says one of several roots of the problem is the difficulty of transitioning from the lab to industrial scale - meaning what ends up on the marketplace rarely follows naturally from the impressive lab advances.
He comments: 'Most academic research involves lab produced few- and mono-layer graphene. Most actual commercial graphene out there today bears only modest resemblance to this lab graphene.'
The lack of a scaled approach is then exacerbated by additional obstacles to industrialising few and mono-layer graphene-based products.
Myers adds: 'A second root problem is that graphene is not like other conventional filler materials; few and mono-layer graphene is inert, has an extremely large surface area, and is difficult to disperse and derive functionality from. This is particularly true when the methods for managing graphene in product manufacturing are taken to industrial-scale.'
A third root challenge is that the novelty of graphene calls for a substantial focus of capacity and specialised skills within the R&D departments of companies in a position to industrialise, something that is difficult to secure at all but a few organisations. With these interrelated factors, it becomes clearer why the hype of graphene research has so not yet translated into the many markets it promises to disrupt - from next-generation consumer electronics, to smart and robust packaging, wind and solar power technologies, and many more.
Graphene value chain
Graphene Technologies has built its own vertically integrated 'graphene value chain' to address these core problems of graphene industrialisation. The US company has a patented and industrially scalable synthesis process; offers few-layer graphene, along with other nanomaterials such as nano-crystalline magnesium oxide; and can handle the chemical and physical engineering to create polymer composites and coating formulations.
The company's approach to the graphene market has proven to be appealing to corporations interested in the capabilities potentially offered by graphene. Graphene Technologies is working with global corporations today to develop breakthrough products for their markets.
Myers comments: 'Graphene Technologies believes that industrial-scale synthesised few-layer and mono-layer graphene, and the technical skills to manage this material in product development, will lead the market toward realisation of graphene's promise in commercial products.'