May 21, 2019
Graphic for PBS show
Professor Ric Kaner and researcher Dr Maher El-Kady discuss how graphene can revolutionize the automobile in Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World
 
Kaner and El-Kady appear after the 46 minute mark in episode four, “The Car”, which aired on May 8, 2019. View the 54 minute episode here
 
The six-part series, which debuted April 17, 2019, documents how humans and six revolutionary inventions - the telescope, airplane, robot, car, rocket and smartphone - changed the world forever. In the "Car" episode, viewers are invited to “go for a ride through the 9,000-year history of the ultimate freedom machine – the car – from its roots in dogsleds to Henry Ford’s affordable and assembly line-built Model T, and meet the scientists working on the next generation of self-driving automobiles.”
 
 
In the episode, Kaner discusses the promise of graphene, a single layer of carbon, in rapidly storing energy that will help revolutionize the battery. He believes that within a few years we’ll be able to charge an electric vehicle in the time it currently takes to fill a tank at a gas station. For this to become a reality, we need cost-effective methods for the mass production of graphene without compromising its unique properties, something that remained a challenge for years. El-Kady demonstrates how UCLA scientists managed to make graphene using an inexpensive infrared laser that exists in any LightScribe DVD player. This discovery led to graphene supercapacitors that could be fully recharged within a few seconds. These supercapacitors can be cheaply made without the use of sophisticated techniques or harmful materials. They are biodegradable and can be even composted.
 
A UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering, Kaner holds the Dr. Myung Ki Hong Endowed Chair in Materials Innovation. He is co-founder of Nanotech Energy, a company that is working to move the Kaner group’s cutting-edge research on graphene-based energy storage devices from the laboratory to the marketplace.
 
A native of Egypt, El-Kady received his Master of Science in Physical Chemistry from Cairo University in 2009 and his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from UCLA in 2013. He is currently a researcher in Kaner’s group, and Chief Technology Officer at Nanotech Energy where he and Kaner are working on converting their graphene supercapacitors research from the laboratory scale to mass production.   
 
Kaner and El-Kady’s research has been highlighted in many prestigious journals and magazines including National Geographic, Scientific American and USA Today.  
 
To learn more about the Kaner group’s research, visit their website.
 
 
Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.