The graphene industry in the US is entering an interesting phase. As it stands, the US is lacking behind Europe, China and Singapore in funding and money invested into graphene technologies and new graphene developments. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the US graphene industry.
China is currently investing heavily in graphene and patenting many new graphene-based technologies. Singapore, despite being a small nation, has a dedicated and world-leading research centre for graphene and other 2D materials, and has invested more per capita into graphene than any other country (when the GDPs are normalised).
Europe has the Graphene Flagship – a dedicated organisation that provides funding for graphene-related projects in EU countries. With headquarters in Sweden, the Flagship has invested the most money worldwide towards the commercialisation of graphene and has been involved in the development of many graphene start-up companies. Whether or not the impacts of Brexit will affect future funding for the UK is yet to be seen and will most likely depend on what type of Brexit the UK adopts but UK is the spiritual home of Graphene due to its history and Routes in Manchester via The Graphene institute and investment.
Whilst in the US a significant amount of money has been invested towards the fundamental research of graphene, the US government has not invested a lot of money towards the commercialisation of graphene. However, it looks as though there may be big changes coming.
The National Graphene Association (NGA) is a US-based organisation that is trying to drive the commercialisation of graphene, using a collaborative approach that involves many of the leading graphene figures from around the world. Whilst, there are other challenges with graphene, getting the US government on board and investing in graphene remains one of the major stepping stones for accelerating the commercialisation of graphene in the US market.
This has been a talking point for a while within the US graphene committee and was widely debated last October at the Graphene Innovation Summit and Expo in Nashville.
A major stepping stone to obtaining government support is getting your voice heard and raising the profile of graphene, and the NGA has recently revamped their government relations and lobbying efforts in D.C. to aid with this. Whilst it is only a small step to getting the issues of the US graphene industry out there to the relevant people, the appointment marks a potential turning point for the commercialisation of graphene and for the future of industry-led discussions with the relevant government funding bodies.
Another major hurdle in the development and commercialisation of graphene is standards. Whilst this a global issue, and not just an American issue, the NGA is the main organisation in the US that are promoting the commercialisation of graphene and addressing critical issues such as standards and policy development. Ray Gibbs (Haydale), a leading figure in the UK graphene market, has previously stated that they have tested graphene from over 230 suppliers and none are of the same quality/structure, even between different batches within the same company.
The issues of standards in the graphene marketplace is one that will hopefully be eradicated in the not too distant future. Dr. Zina Jarrahi Cinker, the executive director of the NGA, is set to discuss the issues of standards from an industry perspective at the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Washington DC, for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Nanotechnology Standards Panel (NSP). The meeting sets a tone and lays a platform for future discussions to be held in conjunction with solving the standards issue in the US and around the world.
Written by Liam Critchley