Please tell us a bit about PIC.
PIC have been working closely with nano-carbon (NC) materials for the last decade. We started out by creating multi-wall carbon nanotubes (CNT) and then we moved onto graphenes. While our main research focus currently is on graphenes, we continue to explore potential applications for carbon in its various forms; including CNT and carbon-fiber composites.
We’ve always been looking into these materials, focusing particularly on taking advantage of the thermally conductive properties of NC's.
As we are such a small company, we felt it was important to select an area to specialize in. That area for us is thermal management.
Our research is split into two broad categories: heat generation and heat dissipation. With our background in the automotive industry, we're focusing on potential applications in cars and trucks; specifically EV's and hybrids, although we envision applications with our products for current internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as well.
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What makes PIC unique compared to other companies in the marketplace?
The main differentiator we have is our skill in the functionalization of NC materials. We have the ability to functionalize materials such as carbon fiber, CNT's, or graphene oxide (GO), so that they mix cohesively with polymers or other materials.
Achieving a high degree of dispersibility is critical to ensure that we learn all of the mechanical and conductive improvements made available by incorporating NC's, but also reduce waste at the same time. This is the difference between a high-quality and a low-quality product.
While there may be a market for the lower-quality products, PIC is committed to developing products that require the highest degrees of compatibility and dispersibility, where customer expectations and demands of the product require no less. PIC is able to functionalize GO, RGO, and CNTs based on those customer expectations and needs.
The other thing that makes PIC unique is the type of GO that we produce. We are capable of producing ultra-large few-layer graphene oxide (ULFLG). This means that our graphene oxide nano-platelets (GONP) average 400 microns in diameter, with some over 900 microns, while being between 3-10 layers but averaging 6 layers in thickness.
If you're only able to functionalize the edges of graphene oxide surfaces, but not the area at the center, a very thick GNP sheet loses a lot of compatibility and a lot of the benefits of interspersing with other materials. Our unique combination of extremely large platelet size and few layers makes our GONP highly suitable for our target applications as it overcomes this issue.
Could you summarize your talk at the Global Graphene Expo.
One of the examples of our achievements with our GO production, is a resistive heating fabric. Essentially, it is a coating that we call WarmIR, based on our GO with CNT.
When applied to a fabric, the WarmIR coating makes it electrically resistive, and generate heat when a current is run through it. That heat is transmitted back through far infrared radiation.
The WarmIR coated fabric has a very low power draw, and it is also light-weight and low-profile, so we believe that it will have applications in automotive cabin heating, residential heating and possibly heated clothing as well.
Regardless of application, several key benefits carry through: far infrared radiation is an energy efficient, silent, and comfortable way of creating a comfortable thermal atmosphere with some proven health benefits as compared to forced air heating.
Why do you believe events like the Global Graphene Expo are important?
For me, this event has been very important to my personal growth and understanding of the graphenes industry, because it has opened my eyes to different viewpoints and different approaches; not only to graphene and graphene oxide manufacturing, but also the applications.
It has shown me that there is room in the market for a spectrum of graphene oxide and a quality of graphene.
Hearing industry experts is always helpful and you cannot listen to those viewpoints if you operate in your own bubble. Coming out to these events, hearing from different people, and getting to pick their brain on why they took various approaches to their research has been very enlightening for me.
Also, there is a degree of validation too. Knowing that our research is being well received and appreciated by other peers in the industry - it's really encouraging.
About Al Hung
Always driven the desire to better understand what makes both people and things tick, Al Hung earned his B.A. in Business Management and B.A. in Psychology from The State University of New York at Stony Brook. His career has taken him from managing international logistics for global companies, to designing and sourcing powertrain components found in many of today's cars and trucks, and working with other pioneers in the exciting fields of nano-technology.
Throughout his career, one common theme has permeated Al's many roles, and that is communication. Understanding that even the best products coming from the best minds will fall deaf ears without effective education, properly researched ideas and a clear message, he believes that ultimately we are all in the same industry - Communications.
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