Graphene Flagship’s success stories unleash graphene potential in different applications
A selection of nine projects that are bringing graphene to the next level
Increasing consumers’ confidence in tap water with graphene-enabled filters
Graphene Flagship Partner Medica S.p.a. produces a compact water filter, exploiting the best of two materials: hollow fibre membranes to eliminate microbiological contaminants (i.e. bacteria, viruses, endotoxins) and graphene oxide to remove emerging contaminants (i.e. comprise drugs, antibiotics, pesticides, heavy metals and personal care byproducts) from water.
“We tested the first graphene filter in 2015 with researchers from Graphene Flagship Partner National Research Council (CNR) in Bologna. Even if our first tested filters worked for just one hour, we saw the potential. The filter could capture contaminants from water thanks to its high contact surfaces and chemical affinity with many different chemical species,” says Letizia Bocchi, Medica Spa’s Research Laboratory Manager and leader of the Spearhead Project Graphil.
Bridging the gap between graphene’s quality and processability
Graphene Flagship Partner Sixonia Tech GmbH’s proprietary technique is an electrochemical exfoliation method where few-layer graphene is derived from graphite and functionalised with the desired chemical groups at the same time. Spun off from Graphene Flagship Partner Technische Universitaet Dresden in Germany, Sixonia has continuously doubled its turnover every year since its launch in 2017.
“One of the primary challenges with graphene has been its tendency to re-stack back to graphite during processing. Sixonia is addressing this issue by functionalising graphene just enough to make it processable, while retaining graphene's features, such as electrical conductivity,” says Martin Lohe, co-founder and CEO of Sixonia.
Improving optical communication for faster data traffic
Graphene Flagship Associated Member CamGraPhiC’s mission is to boost optical telecommunications for several fields, such as 5G and edge computing, to support optical telecommunications, advanced sensors, artificial intelligence, quantum photonics and space applications, among others. CamGraPhiC is now developing the first building block in order to demonstrate the capabilities of graphene-integrated photonics. They aim to be the first in the market to deliver 1600 gigabits per second.
“Important requirements for the next-generation components are high speed, small size, low cost, low power consumption and flexibility. CamGraPhiC is developing graphene-integrated photonics to satisfy all of these requirements,” says CamGraPhiC’s CTO Alessio Pirastu.
Towards safer driving in adverse weather conditions
Graphene Flagship Partner Qurv Technologies, Spain, is developing new sensors to unlock computer vision applications with unprecedented levels of performance, reliability and function. Qurv’s technology captures UV, visible and infrared photons and is based on a graphene-enabled pixel stack that we integrate with CMOS integrated circuits. “Our technology provides benefits in different markets. One of Qurv’s target markets is automotive. In the Graphene Flagship spearhead project AUTOVISION, we explore the potential of graphene-based wide spectrum image sensors to allow autonomous cars to see better in adverse conditions,” says Qurv’s CTO Stijn Goossens, leader of the Graphene Flagship Spearhead Project AUTOVISION.
Integrating graphene in fab production line processes
Headquartered in Germany, Aixtron has 35 years of experience in deposition systems. It is present in seven countries, with around 700 employees. Active in several Graphene Flagship Work Packages, a Spearhead Project and the 2D-EPL, Aixtron works on growth and transfer tools.
More recently, both Aixtron Ltd and Aixtron SE are involved in the 2D-EPL with the goal of improving and scaling up the production of graphene and other layered materials. This includes the growth and subsequent transfer of these materials to target wafers. “Our goal is to provide the tools to produce high-quality graphene at 300 mm wafer scale and develop new strategies to enable its integration into existing fab production line processes,” says John Walker, development engineer and project leader at Aixtron Ltd in Cambridge, UK.
Transforming cancer diagnosis
Graphene Flagship Partner Cambridge Raman Imaging (CRIL) is developing a technology to diagnose cancer quickly and at affordable costs. The instrument measures the molecular composition of unstained tissue biopsies using coherent Raman – a microscopy technique that differentiates molecules by the way they vibrate. It is the first application of fast Raman imaging to the clinical field. The Raman measurements are then directly fed into an Artificial Intelligence (AI) programme that differentiates healthy and tumour tissues, and provides tumour subtype classification.
“We aim to develop a medical device that is capable of automatically analysing unstained tissues, differentiating normal versus neoplastic tissues with accuracy higher than 98%, and differentiating and grading histologic subtypes with accuracy higher than 90%. Our instrument will offer an accuracy comparable to the existing clinical protocols, but it will be much faster and more objective,” says CRIL’s CEO and CTO Matteo Negro.
Removing grease from circuit breakers with metal-graphene composites
Led by ABB, Graphene Flagship Spearhead Project Circuitbreakers investigates the use of metal-graphene composites to produce maintenance-free low voltage circuit breakers – devices connected to the distribution grid that open and close an electrical circuit during faults.
“Today we are at a stage where we are becoming very confident about graphene as a material for mechanical lubrication. And that's why we have scaled up our intention, we aim to increase the technology readiness level and achieve successful applications,” says ABB’s research team manager, Santanu Singha.
Graphene-enabled sensors for wound monitoring, pathogen detection and more
The rapid testing of COVID-19, TestNTrace, won the prestigious CES 2022 Innovation Award in Las Vegas. It was developed for COVID-19 by Graphene Flagship Associated Member Grapheal, but can be adapted to other applications. “TestNTrace shows the result in 3 minutes or less. It takes advantage of the contactless communication technology, that is already present in every smartphone. The collected data are GDPR compliant,” says Grapheal’s CEO Vincent Bouchiat. Previously, Grapheal developed the smart plaster WoundLAB: a pH sensor to monitor the wound evolution without opening the bandage. Preclinical studies have shown that it is biocompatible and does not affect the wound, so the team will start the first clinical trials on a pilot study in diabetic patients.