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January 20, 2014

NUS and BASF embark on joint graphene research

Gerald Ondrey

The Graphene Research Center (GRC) at the National University of Singapore (NUS; Faculty of Science and BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany; have partnered to develop the use of graphene in organic electronic devices, such as organic light emitting diodes (OLED). The goal of this collaboration is to interface graphene films with organic electronic materials for the creation of more efficient and more flexible lighting devices.

“Our motto at GRC is ‘Inventing the Future’ and the combination of graphene from GRC and organic materials from BASF is the perfect way to research possibilities that have not been explored before and can lead to transformative technology. We are working towards a bright future where clean energy can be harvested, transported and stored in efficient ways, in order to be used to create a better and healthier living for all of us,” says professor Antonio Castro Neto, director of the GRC and a Distinguished Professor at the Dept. of Physics, NUS Faculty of Science and Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NUS Faculty of Engineering.
“Graphene is a fascinating material, with regard to both its electronic properties and its mechanical strength. We have been engaged in the research of graphene for several years and are now ready to enter partnerships with excellence research centers in order to complement and speed up our device development,” says Josef R. Wu╠łnsch, senior vice president Modeling & Formulation Research at BASF, also responsible for incubation in the graphene space.
The NUS team at GRC will be responsible for the synthesis and characterization of the graphene. The researchers have already developed a patent-pending methodology for the reliable growth and transfer of high-quality graphene films onto different flexible substrates that can be used in solar cells and lighting panels. BASF develops and provides organic active materials that allow for its integration into a device, jointly with graphene films.
“Graphene is a potentially important component in the future of lighting and low-weight energy storage. Through this cooperation, we aim to greatly advance the performance of graphene-based next generation organic electronic devices,” says Kitty Cha, a graphene research scientist at BASF who is managing the project.

The scientific aspects of the collaboration at NUS are coordinated by professor Loh Kian Ping, a leading chemist at GRC and head of the Dept. of Chemistry at the NUS Faculty of Science. For the OLED project, the goal is to develop a robust process of transferring and incorporating graphene in OLED devices. The researchers have to overcome the key challenge of working with atomically thin films of graphene and interfacing these films efficiently with organic materials. If successful, incorporating graphene into OLED and other devices based on electronically active organic materials will allow for inexpensive, flexible and more efficient gadgets.
“Graphene, which is one of the crystalline forms of carbon, was only relatively recently discovered in 2004. The GRC at NUS Faculty of Science, which has already established itself as one of the leaders in the graphene research, is now also establishing itself as an industry collaborator, bringing about new applications of graphene across a wide range of sectors,” says Irene Cheong, director, NUS Industry Liaison Office, which facilitated this industry collaboration.

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