By Cameron Chai
A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has won the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Innovation Corps award, which recognizes research works that can be used commercially and provides researchers with a link to entrepreneurial resources. The award is accompanied with prize money of $ 50,000.
The research team comprises Charlie Johnson, who serves as Professor of physics and astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, Michael Patterson, a Wharton Executive MBA program’s member, and Zhengtang Luo, Johnson’s Lab postdoctoral fellow. The university’s UPstart program and Center for Technology Transfer enabled them to work together.
Upstart, a program at the University of Pennsylvania enables commercialization of technologies developed at the University. Upstart assisted the team to establish its start-up company named Graphene Frontiers as well as supported it to participate in the NSF award program.
Graphene finds applications from consumer electronics to scientific equipment but existing production technologies are only able to manufacture small flakes of graphene at a time. Graphene Frontiers' technology is economical and more reliable and can produce large graphene sheets at atmospheric pressure and room temperature.
Luo stated that since using this technology, graphene can be manufactured at atmospheric pressure, it can produce graphene in a simple method and at a lower cost. The overall manufacturing system is simple, economical and more versatile, he said.
As part of the award program, the research team will participate in a NSF workshop to be conducted at Stanford University, where they will take part in a crash course to handle the obstacles facing by technology start-ups. They will also have the chance to work with the prospective investors and conduct business seminars via the NSF during 2012. Upstart will provide its continuous support to Graphene Frontiers during this process.