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© vinnstock dreamstime.com Analysis | October 26, 2015

IDTechEx: Graphene's centre of gravity shifts to China?

Europeans won the Nobel Prize for their work on graphene but they are not necessarily winning on the commercial front. In fact, it is the Chinese who might overtake them.
Chinese entities are taking the patent landscape by a storm and have now put an unbridgeable distance between themselves and the rest of the world. Chinese entities now featured heavily in the list of top ten patent holders, while there is a notable absence of Western entities. It is of course by no means certain that quantity will translate into quality, but what is certain is that Chinese research is leaving behind no white space in the graphene patent landscape.

Chinese entities are also announcing ambitious production plans. Many such as The Sixth Element and Morsh have capacities greater than 100 tpa. The utilisation rate is still low and the quality may not be the highest, but in most case will be good enough. It is worthwhile noting that Chinese also had success in the CNT business, therefore there is no reason to doubt that they can replicate it here.

The progress is not limited to platelet type graphene. Several Chinese firms have set up production lines for producing and transferring CVD graphene films. Here too they are announcing aggressing scale, performance and price plans, and are innovating in the way they combine the doping and transfer steps.

This is not to say that Europeans and others are also not doing great work. In Europe, many companies have innovated and/or scaled.

North American companies are also making strong progress. In fact, Vorbeck was one of the first to bring real applications to the market based on its graphene conductive inks, while XG Sciences was one of the first to scale and help make graphene affordable.

Japan has been slow to wake up to the graphene craze. This may seem surprising given Japan's strong tradition in material research and manufacture, but this is because many Japanese companies had their fingers burnt after they wholeheartedly embraced CNTs at the peak of their hype. Despite this, good work has been coming from Japan.

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