Our latest innovation success stories
Since its inception, the Graphene Flagship has focused on both fundamental science and technological innovation. Here you can find a selection of key innovation developments from 2021 that bring graphene products closer to the market.
“These success stories cement the fact that innovation and results are emerging from the Graphene Flagship. The journey from laboratory to factory floor and the creation of business opportunities have been the main drivers for our programme since the beginning. We start to see the fruits of the European Commission and our partners’ long-term support,” says Kari Hjelt, Graphene Flagship Head of Innovation.
INBRAIN Neuroelectronics secures millions in funding
In 2021, INBRAIN Neuroelectronics received a €14.5M Series A investment, one of the biggest rounds in the Spanish MedTech industry, co-led by Asabys Partners and Alta Life Sciences, and joined by Vsquared Ventures, a DeepTech-focused early-stage venture capitalist based in Munich; TruVenturo GmbH, Germany’s most successful tech and life science company builders; and CDTI, at the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
INBRAIN Neuroelectronics is a spin-off company of Graphene Flagship partners the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and ICREA, Spain. Established in 2019, INBRAIN Neuroelectronics develops graphene-based neural implants for personalised therapies in brain disorders, to overcome the current limitations of metal-based neural devices. INBRAIN will use this year’s investment, including an investment from ICF Venture Tech II, to begin clinical trials in humans.
INBRAIN also signed a collaboration with Merck, a leading science and technology company, to develop the next generation of graphene bioelectronics for vagus nerve therapies, which will target severe chronic diseases with high unmet medical needs. This collaboration will combine Merck’s data science, clinical, regulatory and quality expertise with INBRAIN’s technical know-how in the development of graphene interfaces, device development and signal processing for clinical applications.
Qurv Technologies: the new spin-off specialised in image sensor technologies
This year, Graphene Flagship partner ICFO in Barcelona, Spain, launched the spin-off Qurv Technologies to develop graphene-enabled wide-spectrum image sensor technologies for next-generation computer vision, which could find application in autonomous cars and robots. Qurv has created a ‘plug-and-play’ manufacturing approach, making it more widely compatible and accessible than current alternatives. The company takes advantage of the unique electronic properties of graphene and light sensitisers made of quantum nanoparticles, to achieve the efficient detection of a broad range of wavelengths – from ultraviolet to infrared light – with a single device. This graphene-based sensor replaces traditional costly alternatives based on indium gallium arsenide, paving the way to short-wave infrared imagers up to 1,000 times cheaper.
Qurv is also the leader the Graphene Flagship Spearhead Project Autovision, and Stijn Goossens, Qurv’s CTO is on the 2D-EPL’s Industrial Advisory Board.
Grapheal wins CES 2022 Innovation Award
Graphene Flagship Associated Member Grapheal launched TestNpass – a graphene-enabled, digital, diagnostic “test strip” – and received the “Best in Innovation” award at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2022 in the United States of America. Medtech spinoff of Graphene Flagship partner CNRS-Grenoble, France, Grapheal is the only start-up awarded this prestigious prize in the healthcare category this year, and TestNpass is the first graphene biosensor to obtain such an award.
TestNpass screens for the presence of biomarkers, e.g. antigens related to COVID-19, in body fluids and delivers the results in a time-stamped, encrypted RFID tag, which is tamper-proofed by facial recognition control. It provides a secure, biometric health pass in less than 5 minutes, which is ideal for rapid and repeated screening in high traffic areas and large venues. Digital results are encrypted and do not need to be shared over the internet to be valid, making the system fully compliant with strict data protection laws.
Two-dimensional chemistry towards new graphene derivatives
Partnering Project 2DChem filed a patent application related to the preparation of nitrogen-doped graphene in 2020, then published in 2021. This material displays a well-balanced set of parameters, ideal for supercapacitor electrodes. Its extraordinary density, paired with its capacity to absorb ions from the electrolyte, results in an ultrahigh volumetric energy density—higher than any previously reported carbon or graphene-based supercapacitor materials. The highest value of volumetric energy density reached almost 170 Wh/L at volumetric power density of 5.2 kW/L. Beyond its applications in energy storage devices, this material can be applied to sensing and catalysis.
Field-effect transistors with organic semiconductors
Partnering Project H2O demonstrated wafer-scale (3-inch) fabrication of high-quality transferable organic semiconductor (OSC) nanosheets with thickness down to 15 nm, which enables the realization of various heterojunction devices. The invention was filed as a patent application (10 2021 107 057.0) in German Patent and Trade Mark Office (GPTO). The team also released OSC films that can be transferred onto arbitrary substrates without losing their crystalline quality, and realized a manifold of field-effect transistors, by transferring OSC nanosheets (p-type) onto prefabricated electrodes and transition-metal dichalcogenide monolayers (n-type).