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30 Innovative Brands of the Year 2023

A high-tech startup on a pursuit to commercialize graphene to create VALUE-generating ecosystem: Graphene Square

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Graphene Square, Inc. is a pioneer in the commercialization of graphene material and graphene films for use as a transparent conductor/heater and in other advanced electronics applications. Established in 2012 as a spin-off of the research of Prof. Byung Hee Hong at Seoul National University, with headquarters in Seoul, Korea, and US branches in LA and NJ, He developed the method of synthesizing graphene by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) for the first time in 2008. Then, the laboratory was overwhelmed by a lot of sample requests from researchers worldwide, so Prof. Hong decided to spin off a company that supplies graphene materials and related equipment.

Graphene Square’s film is now ready for mass production in the factories in Pohang, Korea, and the capacity is 100,000 wafers and 10,000 m2/year now and will be expanded to 1,000,000 m2/year by the end of 2025. The first commercial applications will be the heater modules for home appliances, graphene FET biosensors, and EUV pellicles; the heaters for automobile windshields; LiDAR; and digital side mirrors, developed in collaboration with LG, Samsung, Hyundai, and GM.

Q. Why Graphene?

Graphene, the world's thinnest material, combines seemingly mutually exclusive material properties, which are of great importance for ultrafast transistors and ultrasensitive sensors: it is at the same time both the best heat conductor and generator we know and yet optically almost transparent; it is the world’s strongest material and yet extremely flexible and bendable. Since its discovery in 2004, the rapid development of graphene research and its impact on material science culminated in the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for its discovery.

Due to these characteristics, it is expected to be applied to various fields such as displays, secondary batteries, and semiconductors. However, the manufacturing and mass production technology of the raw materials with the physical properties and price competitiveness expected from graphene have not been developed worldwide, and no company has yet succeeded in completely commercializing it.

Core Technology of Graphene Square and Key Services

Graphene Square holds 79 patents on Roll-to-Roll (R2R) continuous production and related applications of graphene. The R2R CVD synthesis is similar to the newspaper printing process that maximizes productivity by incorporating the entire production process in a continuous manner with 38 times higher productivity efficiency compared to a batch (discontinuous) process.

Key services of Graphene Square include:

  • Supplying CVD Graphene Films: Graphene Square offers the highest quality graphene samples currently on the market. Graphene Square offers standard samples online, as well as fab services and 2D materials that are custom-made for each customer.
  • Manufacturing CVD systems for R&D and mass-production: For researchers who want to synthesize their own graphene samples, Graphene Square markets advanced CVD systems that allow the users to prepare their own large-area, high-quality graphene and 2D materials samples in a lab environment. These systems have been installed in renowned institutions including Harvard, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, IBM/ETH, Technion, KAUST, etc.
  • IP Licensing & B2B: Graphene Square licenses technology from its extensive patent portfolio and provides B2B services, including graphene coating on metal surfaces, transfer to arbitrary substrates, and patterning of graphene to be applied to the display, semiconductor, automobile, aerospace, biomedical industries, etc.

Graphene Square’s Etymology

Recently, Graphene Square developed transparent graphene heating modules to be applied to a new type of cookware, the "Graphene Kitchen Styler." The name came from the idea of replacing the old cooking styles based on 100-year-old coil-heater technology with novel transparent planar graphene heaters that generate IR radiation more efficiently from atom-thick, layers more robust than diamond. The same idea has been applied to a graphene-based heat radiator, simply called "Gradiator."

The graphene heater is also important for automotive applications. In the case of an internal combustion vehicle, defrosting is done by hot air made from waste heat from the engine. However, electric vehicles do not have such waste heat, so they must consume electrical energy stored in batteries, which is inefficient in terms of time and mileage per charge. Thus, it is the top priority for electric vehicles to find more efficient defrosting technology, especially in cold regions. The company's graphene heater film is inserted between two layers of front windshield glass and uses minimum electrical energy to heat the windshields, which is more efficient than heating the whole interior of a vehicle by air conditioning. The same technology can be applied to the defrosting of RiDAR covers and digital side view mirrors. These electrothermal applications of the graphene heater are branded "Thermo-Graphene."

Upcoming offerings and Future of Graphene Square

Graphene Square is also planning to globally launch "Graphene Kitchen Styler" and "Gradiator" through INDIEGOGO, early 2023. The graphene industry is still in its infancy. However, in the near future, just like silicon materials did for a few decades, graphene will change our lives and industries. Graphene Square is recently developing the essential parts for electric vehicles, self-driving cars, next-generation semiconductor fab processes, and flexible and stretchable OLED displays. For the next 10 years and beyond, graphene and 2D materials will be intensively developed for sensors and transistors for communication and quantum computing. Fast and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19 and other diseases at a much lower price will be enabled by graphene FET sensors, and incurable diseases such as Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's disease can be treated by graphene-based therapeutics which has been spin-off to Biographene.

Meet the leaders behind the success of Graphene Square

Konstantin Novoselov who discovered graphene for the first time and won the Nobel Prize in 2010 joined Graphene Square as Chief Scientific Advisor and as a major shareholder.

CEO Byung Hee Hong is also one of the best scholars who contributed to the Noble Prize in 2010. He was invited to Nobel Symposium to give a presentation on the future of graphene. His research paper published in Nature reporting the chemical synthesis of graphene (Kim et al., Large-Scale pattern growth of graphene films for stretchable transparent electrodes. Nature 2009, 457, 706) has recorded the world No. 1 citation in chemistry since 2009. CEO Hong’s achievement was included in the press release of Nobel Prize and Nobel Museum exhibition.

“Graphene Square is currently developing systems for mass production of large scale CVD graphene with focused areas of application in the commercial and industrial markets.”