Graphene-based sensors that can measure air quality seem to be getting closer to mass production – that at least is the claim being made about a new partnership between a University of Manchester spin-out company and Chinese firm Tunghsu Optoelectronics.
The latter, part of The Tunghsu Group, is investing nearly £1million in Riptron Ltd over two investment stages. Riptron is a spin-out company founded by two scientists from the University’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Dr Max Migliorato and Dr Rakesh Kumar.
The spin-out has been supported by the University’s Intellectual Property arm, UMIP and Graphene Enabled. The latter is a business created and owned by the University to launch market-focused ‘spin–out’ companies for graphene based-products.
At a special signing ceremony at the University on Friday 16 August. Dr Migliorato said: “I am thrilled that a company of the reputation of Tunghsu has showed such enthusiasm for our sensor technology, which was entirely developed at the University of Manchester. I am also confident that, together, we are going to make a global success of graphene electronic products.”
Tunghsu Optoelectronics is a leader in China’s graphene industry and already produces four products including graphene-based lithium-ion batteries, energy-saving lighting, thermal management systems and anti-corrosion coatings. In 2018, the industrial application of graphene reached 181 million yuan, an increase of 170% year on year.
Dr Kumar said: “I believe working together we can provide a technology solution for real-time air-quality mapping to help the local governments introduce new levels of environment, health and safety regulations.”
Tunghsu Optoelectronic is a Tier-One partner to the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) which opened last year. The GEIC is the University’s commercially-focused graphene facility that is focused on the development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications.
Graphene’s modern rediscovery and isolation at the University of Manchester in 2004 has led to a putative “gold rush” of attempts to commercialise the material, which is distinguished by its extraordinary thinness, strength and electrical properties.