UCLA energy incubator produces graphene that expands surface area storage to within range of the theoretical limit

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Nanotech Energy, co-founded by Professor Richard Kaner and Maher El-Kady, clears huge hurdle in the production of high-quality graphene-based materials.

Through its proprietary technology, Nanotech Energy, holder of the world’s first graphene patent and producer of graphene, graphene oxide and graphene super-batteries, is now able to produce graphene with an unsurpassed surface area of over 2,500 meters squared per gram, almost the theoretical limit. A second version of graphene with a surface area of 2,000 to 2,200 meters squared per gram, measured by methylene blue adsorption will become available for purchase based on downstream applications, while the other version of over 2,500 meters squared per gram is being used only for Nanotech’s downstream products.

Nanotech Energy developed a new form of graphene that is extremely lightweight, an excellent conductor of electricity with an enormous surface area per gram, which makes it ideal for the manufacturing of more powerful lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors, conductive inks and adhesives, among others. Photo courtesy of Nanotech Energy

The first patent for graphene, now licensed to Nanotech Energy, was filed in 2002 by Dr. Richard Kaner, UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering, who holds the Dr. Myung Ki Hong Endowed Chair in Materials Innovation.

Nanotech Energy was formed in 2014 by Kaner and Dr. Maher El-Kady, a postdoctoral researcher in Kaner’s group, along with physician-entrepreneur Dr. Jack Kavanaugh, with the goal of moving their cutting-edge research on graphene-based energy storage devices from the laboratory to the marketplace.

Their graphene products have the potential to revolutionize the graphene industry with applications in batteries, transparent conducting electrodes, functional inks, printed electronics, conductive epoxy, antistatic coatings and RFID antennas.

Professor Richard Kaner and Dr. Maher El-Kady

Professor Richard Kaner and Dr. Maher El-Kady. Photo by Penny Jennings.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon with a theoretical surface area limit of slightly over 2,600 meters squared per gram. The surface area determines how many electrons can be stored and, in turn, how much energy can be stored in batteries and supercapacitors. Without the large surface area, graphene loses most of its superlatives and behaves just like graphite.

Nanotech Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kavanaugh said, ”Nanotech Energy has created a remarkable technology that reaches the boundaries of superior energy density, power density, cycle life and, most importantly, safety.  It’s an exciting time for the company and the industry.”

Chief Technology Officer El-Kady added “it’s widely accepted that the properties of graphene vary depending on the number of layers. The high surface area of our graphene has potential to dramatically transform the graphene industry. We already produce super-batteries, supercapacitors, conductive inks and conductive epoxies with unprecedented performance and have responsibly extended our leads in each of those arenas by making them all safer.”

Kaner, Chair of Nanotech scientific advisory board, further added, “After tests have demonstrated that almost all graphene sold today is really thin layer graphite and not graphene, this is a major step forward to be able to scale real graphene with a surface area (over 2500 m2/g) that approaches the theoretical limit.”

To learn more about the Kaner group research, visit their website.

Written by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.