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  • By: Tom Foley
  • Graphene Flagship
  • Publishing date: 14 July 2021
  • By: Tom Foley
  • Graphene Flagship
  • Publishing date: 14 July 2021

Meet Graphene Week speaker Martin Lohe, Sixonia CEO

The successful scientist-turned-entrepreneur will speak on Industry Day at Graphene Week 2021.

Europe’s leading graphene conference is coming very soon. The live Graphene Week event runs from 20 – 24 Sep 2021, bringing together a diverse range of speakers from industry, academia, enterprise and beyond. In preparation for the big event, we took the opportunity to get to know our speakers – and ask them why they’re so excited about Graphene Week.

Today, meet Martin Lohe: co-founder and CEO of Graphene Flagship partner Sixonia Tech, a startup company and Graphene Flagship spin-off that uses electrochemistry to produce high-quality graphene.

First off, please can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background?

I always enjoyed applied research: the areas close to real-world applications. During my PhD at the University of Dresden, I started formulating my plans to start my own business. I wanted to succeed independently, rather than as an employee for a big company!

I started working with graphene in Xinliang Feng’s group. He’s the leader of the Functional Foams and Coatings Work Package now, but back then, he was freshly appointed Professor at TU Dresden. I was with the project right from the beginning. In his group, I started as an industry project coordinator, and eventually became a group leader. That was when I co-founded our start-up: Sixonia Tech in 2017.

Why should people be excited about Graphene Week?

It’s the Graphene Flagship’s signature event – it’s one of, if not the most renowned events for 2D materials in the world. The Graphene Flagship will soon move beyond its Core 3 stage, which is naturally linked to higher TRLs – I hope that we’ll see a lot of exciting research with the potential to change our lives, or make our planet cleaner and greener.

How did you get Sixonia off the ground?

My first project using graphene was quite a challenging one: to come up with a scalable process to make graphene on an industrial scale, using electrochemical exfoliation. In simple terms, using electricity to insert ions between graphite’s carbon layers, forcing them to separate.

We experimented a little on our own, aside from the project mentioned before, and tried a few different methods, varying the parameters here and there. That’s when I came up with the idea for Sixonia. The basic principle is that we vary the electrolyte composition, and a few other parameters, on-demand to control how much we oxidise or functionalise the graphene we make. It’s tailorable and scalable, and this is a service we offer to our customers.

Why are graphene and layered materials important?

Simply because the hype was for a very good reason. Maybe we won’t ever see, for example, an entire hammock made of graphene able to support the weight of a cat – but there are a lot of promising applications very nearly in reach.

We have several customers who are on good track to introducing graphene into their products. These products could not be realised in the same way without graphene. For instance, we deliver high-quality graphene to Graphene Flagship Spearhead Project AEROGrAFT, who use it to make next generation air filters in aircraft.

What are you going to present at Graphene Week?

We’ll be showcasing our technologies – exactly what Sixonia can do! We will show the graphene community what makes our production method different from all the others, and how our graphenes are different from other graphenes. We will also tell the story of how we grew our technologies to the scale they’re at today. In fact, at the time of Graphene Week, I am optimistic that our pilot line will be able to produce up to 1 kilogram of high-quality graphene per day.

What’s something you’re personally looking forward to at Graphene Week?

It’s a great opportunity to network, meet new people, and reconnect with the people we haven’t seen in a while. We’ll also have our own exhibition booth, where we hope to encourage more people to try our products!

Visit the Graphene Week 2021 page to learn more and sign up.

Martin Lohe, CEO of Graphene Flagship partner Sixonia Tech. His company uses electrochemistry to produce high-quality graphene.

Author bio

Tom Foley
Tom Foley

Science Writer and Communications Coordinator for the Graphene Flagship