Manufacturing a "Super Material"
Imagine a world where batteries are more efficient, medical devices are safer, computers are more powerful, planes fly faster, and our troops are safer.
All this — and far more — is possible with graphene. Graphene is the strongest, thinnest, lightest, most thermally and electrically-conducting material in history. In fact, it’s defined as a “super material” — a substance with remarkable physical properties.
For graphene to reach its potential, a high-quality supply of it needs to be manufactured at large volumes. It needs to be affordable, too. Until recently, the breakthrough technology to solve this challenge this didn’t exist. But now, a startup called Avadain has created it.
Avadain is a materials-science company using patented technology to produce superior-quality graphene flakes at a low cost. Its large, nearly-defect free flakes overcome the technical obstacles that have plagued the graphene industry. And its manufacturing process can potentially meet the need for more than eighty percent of the global market for graphene flakes — an opportunity worth billions of dollars.
A major problem with graphene production is oxygen. It gets trapped in the material, resulting in defects that hinder its qualities.
Avadain’s patented process uses optimize Electrochemical Exfoliation and Expansion to all but eliminate the presence of oxygen. The result is nearly defect-free flakes.
Graphene can be used to enhance targeted drug delivery, or reduce side effects associated with current cancer treatments. It can be added to existing products to make them lighter and more durable. And the material can increase the efficiency of batteries, improve their power capacity, and enable faster charging times.
Furthermore, graphene can have a massive impact on industries ranging from health and electronics to biotech and consumer goods. It can even enable soldiers to better withstand enemy fire and use more nimble tanks and aircraft. The possibilities with this super material are virtually limitless.
Notably, this company’s emergence is coming at the right time. That’s because the market for graphene is at a tipping point. A tipping point is an expression that can refer to anything from new technologies to the environment. It refers to the point where a series of small changes suddenly becomes significant enough to cause a larger and far more important change.
For years, researchers have been digging into the potential for graphene for years. But getting access to high-quality, affordable graphene was keeping this industry from reaching its tipping point — from achieving mainstream adoption. Avadain’s technology can enable this adoption.
We’re already seeing this tipping point take effect. While the global graphene market was valued at just $285 million in 2020, Fortune Business Insights projects it’ll surpass four billion dollars by 2028.
Avadain produced its first batch of graphene flakes in 2018. A year later, it demonstrated its lab scale manufacturing process, and its technology was published in a peer-reviewed paper for the first time.
In 2020, the company collected patents and then began developing partnerships. In 2022, it received a $3.7 million project grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
One key investor in Avadain is Panasonic Investment Management (PIM), part of Panasonic, the global brand that makes consumer lifestyle technology products. PIM focuses on intellectual property, including contracts and negotiations related to IP applications, rights creation, and licensing of IP.
Avadain plans to license its technology to other companies starting next year and begin generating revenue.
Phil has more than 40 years of experience developing and commercializing new technologies and products. These include advanced membranes, films, polymers, aerospace composites, super capacitors, and electric vehicles.
He began his career with DuPoint, a chemicals company, serving as a product manager. From there, he spent four years as Senior Vice President of Global Marketing with GE Capital, a financial services business.
More recently, he was Global Marketing Leader with Agilent Technologies, a manufacturer of test equipment and supplies for the pharmaceutical, life science, food safety, and chemical processing industries. He then became Principal of Vita Vis Sustainable Solutions, a consulting company for alternative energy businesses.
Additional manufacturing experience includes leading the turnaround of a $100 million polymer manufacturing operation in Texas and starting a film manufacturing facility in Japan.
In addition to his experience in the materials sector, Phil has worked in transportation and logistics. He was Chief Commercial Officer with TotalTrax, a provider of real-time vehicle and driver inventory tracking technologies. He was then CEO of ev Transportation Services (evTS), which develops all-electric commercial utility vehicles.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Tufts University.
Brad co-founded Avadain and has been involved with the development and patenting of its technology since 2016. He’s served on the company’s Board of Directors since its inception and arranged an early investment in its technology by Panasonic.
In addition to his role with Avadain, he is co-founder & CEO of Bastille, a company that commercializes disruptive technologies created by universities and research institutions.
Brad’s experience includes patenting and commercializing IP-based technologies. He is a member of the IAM Strategy 300: The World’s Leading IP Strategists, which identifies individuals leading strategies to maximize the value of IP portfolios.
Earlier in his career, Brad held leadership roles in several early-stage companies. Before that, he was an international lawyer in Washington D.C.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science from Boston University, a Master’s degree in International Law from Tufts University, and a Law degree from Boston College Law School.
In addition to his role with Avadain, Ryan is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas. There, he conducts research on developing new nanotechnologies viable to large-scale industrial manufacturing. He’s published more than 100 papers on the subject and is an inventor/coinventor on numerous patents.
Early in his career, he worked at AXT, a semiconductor manufacturing company. While there, he managed an R&D team and created a new engineering route to boost productivity of a production line. He built the same production line in Asia and achieved similar success.
From there, he joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas, where he co-founded the Journal of Nanotechnology for Engineering & Medicine, the American Society for Nanomedicine, and the Arkansas Institute for Nanoscience/Engineering.
Ryan earned his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry with a minor in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science from the University of Connecticut.
Ericka oversees the financial and operational activities of Avadain. She has extensive experience managing growth and cash positions of startups.
Previously, she was Chief Financial Officer with Bastille, where she helped structure numerous licensing agreements. Since 1995, she’s been President of The Salisbury Group, which advises high-net-worth individuals on early-stage investments, and provides advice to startups.
Earlier in her career, she was Chief Operating Officer with The House of Windsor Collection, an organization overseeing a series of English handcrafted gifts and collectables. Before that, she was Managing Director for Petersen Consulting, where she advised clients on risk exposure.
Ericka holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the University of Memphis. She is a member of the Institute of Management Accountants, where she is a Certified Management Accountant and certified in financial management.