A.T. Charlie Johnson's Graphene Frontiers Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

October 7, 2013

Graphene Frontiers, a company developed through the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Technology Transfer, has been awarded a $744,600 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop roll-to-roll production of graphene, the “miracle material” at the heart of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Graphene Frontiers’ technology was developed by A.T. Charlie Johnson, director of Penn’s Nano/Bio Interface Center and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, along with Zhengtang Luo, a former postdoctoral researcher in Johnson’s lab who is now a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

They founded the company in 2011 through the Center for Technology Transfer’s UPstart program, which serves as a business incubator for technologies developed at the University. The NSF’s Small Business Innovation Research Phase II grant will be used to scale Graphene Frontiers’ production capacity.

Graphene, a single-atom-thick layer of carbon, is transparent, conductive, impermeable, and exceptionally strong. These properties could be used in high-sensitivity chemical detection devices and biosensors, desalination membranes, and flexible touchscreens. Producing the material in bulk remains a challenge; existing graphene production techniques can only make it in small patches or flakes. Graphene Frontiers’ approach can produce meter-long sheets of the material and does not need to take place in a vacuum, enabling it to be more easily integrated with other industrial processes.

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