Tag Archives: Konarka

Samsung ‘GROs’ graphene-based micro-antennas and a brief bit about the business of nanotechnology

A Feb. 22, 2013 news item on Nanowerk highlights a Samsung university grant (GRO) programme which announced funding for graphene-based micro-antennas,

The Graphene-Enabled Wireless Communication project, one of the award-winning proposals under the Samsung Global Research Outreach (GRO) programme, aims to use graphene antennas to implement wireless communication over very short distances (no more than a centimetre) with high-capacity information transmission (tens or hundreds of gigabits per second). Antennas made ??of [sic] graphene could radiate electromagnetic waves in the terahertz band and would allow for high-speed information transmission. Thanks to the unique properties of this nanomaterial, the new graphene-based antenna technology would also make it possible to manufacture antennas a thousand times smaller than those currently used.

The GRO programme—an annual call for research proposals by the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (Seoul, South Korea)—has provided the UPC-led project with US$120,000 in financial support.

The Graphene-Enabled Wireless Communication project is a joint project (from the news item; Note: A link has been removed),

“Graphene-Enabled Wireless Communications” – a proposal submitted by an interdepartmental team based at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTech (UPC) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)—will receive US$120,000 to develop micrometre-scale graphene antennas capable of transmitting information at a high speed over very short distances. The project will be carried out in the coming months.

The Graphene-Enabled Wireless Communication project, one of the award-winning proposals under the Samsung Global Research Outreach (GRO) programme, aims to use graphene antennas to implement wireless communication over very short distances (no more than a centimetre) with high-capacity information transmission (tens or hundreds of gigabits per second). Antennas made ??of graphene could radiate electromagnetic waves in the terahertz band and would allow for high-speed information transmission. Thanks to the unique properties of this nanomaterial, the new graphene-based antenna technology would also make it possible to manufacture antennas a thousand times smaller than those currently used.

There’s more about the Graphene-Enabled Wireless Communication project here,

 A remarkably promising application of graphene is that of Graphene-enabled Wireless Communications (GWC). GWC advocate for the use of graphene-based plasmonic antennas -graphennas, see Fig. 1- whose plasmonic effects allow them to radiate EM waves in the terahertz band (0.1 – 10 THz). Moreover, preliminary results sustain that this frequency band is up to two orders of magnitude below the optical frequencies at which metallic antennas of the same size resonate, thereby enhancing the transmission range of graphene-based antennas and lowering the requirements on the corresponding transceivers. In short, graphene enables the implementation of nano-antennas just a few micrometers in size that are not doable with traditional metallic materials.

Thanks to both the reduced size and unique radiation capabilities of ZZ, GWC may represent a breakthrough in the ultra-short range communications research area. In this project we will study the application of GWC within the scenario of off-chip communication, which includes communication between different chips of a given device, e.g. a cell phone.

A new term, graphenna, appears to be have been coined. The news item goes on to offer more detail about the project and about the number of collaborating institutions,

The first stage of the project, launched in October 2012, focuses on the theoretical foundations of wireless communications over short distances using graphene antennas. In particular, the group is analysing the behaviour of electromagnetic waves in the terahertz band for very short distances, and investigating how coding and modulation schemes can be adapted to achieve high transmission rates while maintaining low power consumption.

The group believes the main benefits of the project in the medium term will derive from its application for internal communication in multicore processors. Processors of this type have a number of sub-processors that share and execute tasks in parallel. The application of wireless communication in this area will make it possible to integrate thousands of sub-processors within a single processor, which is not feasible with current communication systems.

The results of the project will lead to an increase in the computational performance of these devices. This improvement would allow large amounts of data to be processed at very high speed, which would be very useful for streamlining data management at processing centres (“big data”) used, for example, in systems like Facebook and Google. The project, which builds on previous results obtained with the collaboration of the University of Wuppertal in Germany, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden, and Georgia Tech in the United States, is expected to yield its first results in April 2013.

The project is being carried out by the NaNoNetworking Centre in Catalonia (N3Cat), a network formed at the initiative of researchers with the UPC’s departments of Electronic Engineering and Computer Architecture, together with colleagues at Georgia Tech.

Anyone interested in  Samsung’s GRO programme can find more here,

The SAMSUNG Global Research Outreach (GRO) program, open to leading universities around the world, is Samsung Electronics, Co., Ltd. & related Samsung companies (SAMSUNG)’s annual call for research proposals.

As this Samsung-funded research project is being announced, Dexter Johnson details the business failure of NanoInk in a Feb. 22, 2013 posting on his Nanoclast blog (on the IEEE [International Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] website), Note: Links have been removed,

One of the United State’s first nanotechnology companies, NanoInk, has gone belly up, joining a host of high-profile nanotechnology-based companies that have shuttered their doors in the last 12 months: Konarka, A123 Systems and Ener1.

These other three companies were all tied to the energy markets (solar in the case of Konarka and batteries for both A123 and Ener1), which are typically volatile, with a fair number of shuttered businesses dotting their landscapes. But NanoInk is a venerable old company in comparison to these other three and is more in what could be characterized as the “picks-and-shovels” side of the nanotechnology business, microscopy tools.

Dexter goes on to provide an  analysis of the NanoInk situation which makes for some very interesting reading along with the comments—some feisty, some not—his posting has provoked.

I am juxtaposing the Samsung funding announcement with this mention of Dexter’s piece regarding a  ‘nanotechnology’ business failure in an effort to provide some balance between enthusiasm for the research and the realities of developing businesses and products based on that research.

Wanxiang America wins bid for most of A123 Systems’ assets

The A123 Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, story takes a few more twists and turns. The company declared bankruptcy in Oct. 2012 and announced that it had entered an asset purchase agreement with Johnson Controls. From the A123 Systems About Us webpage,

Asset Purchase Agreement and Chapter 11 Information

On October 16, 2012, A123 Systems, Inc. announced that it has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Johnson Controls, Inc., which plans to acquire A123’s automotive business assets, including all of its automotive technology, products and customer contracts, its facilities in Livonia and Romulus, Mich., its cathode powder manufacturing facilities in China, and A123′s equity interest in Shanghai Advanced Traction Battery Systems Co., Alpha’s joint venture with Shanghai Automotive. The asset purchase agreement also includes provisions through which Johnson Controls intends to license back to A123 certain technology for its grid, commercial and government businesses.

Today, Dec. 10, 2012, there’s a news item on Azonano about A123 Systems’ assets being acquired by Wangxiang America,

A123 Systems, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate® lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, today announced that it has reached agreement on the terms of an asset purchase agreement with Wanxiang America Corporation (“Wanxiang”) through which Wanxiang would acquire substantially all of A123’s assets for $256.6 million.

The agreement was reached following an auction conducted under the supervision of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (the “Court”). A hearing at which A123 and Wanxiang will seek the required Court approval of the sale is scheduled for Tuesday, December 11, 2012.

According to the terms of the asset purchase agreement, Wanxiang would acquire A123’s automotive, grid and commercial business assets, including all technology, products, customer contracts and U.S. facilities in Michigan, Massachusetts and Missouri; its cathode powder manufacturing operations in China; and its equity interest in Shanghai Advanced Traction Battery Systems Co., A123’s joint venture with Shanghai Automotive. Excluded from the asset purchase agreement with Wanxiang is A123’s Ann Arbor, Mich.-based government business, including all U.S. military contracts, which would be acquired for $2.25 million by Navitas Systems, a Woodridge, Ill.-based provider of energy-enabled system solutions and energy storage products for commercial, industrial and government agency customers.

The Oct. 2012 deal with Johnson Controls seems to have collapsed, which occasioned this December 2012 auction in which Johnson Controls did participate initially. From the Dec. 9, 2012 Johnson Controls news release on PR Newswire,

Johnson Controls officially withdrew from the bankruptcy auction to acquire portions of A123 Systems when it declined to match a higher bid submitted by Wanxiang.  Subsequently A123 representatives have announced they selected Wanxiang’s bid of $257 million as the best offer for the total company over a set of competing complementary bids by Johnson Controls for the automotive and government assets and NEC for the grid and commercial assets.

“While A123′s automotive and government assets were complementary to Johnson Controls’ portfolio and aligned with our long-term goals, Wanxiang’s offer was beyond the value of those assets to Johnson Controls,” said Alex Molinaroli, president, Johnson Controls Power Solutions. “Reports by other parties that our proposal involved an elimination of jobs in Michigan are inaccurate.”

The Dec. 10, 2012 news article on Bloomberg Businessweek website provides more detail and some analysis,

Wanxiang is seeking A123’s battery technology, used in Fisker Automotive Inc.’s Karma sedan, as China pushes its companies to develop electric vehicles. An earlier accord with the Chinese company was scrapped in October, when A123 said it filed for bankruptcy protection and agreed to sell its automotive assets to Johnson Controls.

“The purchase of A123 would automatically vault Wanxiang to become probably the number one battery maker in China,” said Shu Sun, a Beijing-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Technology-wise, no battery company in China is likely to match A123’s products in performance and reliability.”

A123 supplies electric-car batteries to a dozen customers, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates. That’s the highest number of clients in the industry, though LG Chem Ltd. and NEC Corp. (6701)’s venture with Leaf-maker Nissan Motor Co. have higher volume sales, Sun said.

Wanxiang Qianchao Co. (000559), a listed unit of the closely held parent advanced 1.4 percent to 4.25 yuan in Shenzhen trading today, narrowing its loss for the year to 25 percent.

The auction results also pave the way for Hangzhou, China- based Wanxiang to receive A123’s cathode powder plant in China and its share of a joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. called Shanghai Advanced Traction Battery Systems Co., according to yesterday’s statement.

Navitas Systems, a Woodridge, Illinois-based company, will buy A123’s Ann Arbor, Michigan-based government business for $2.25 million, according to the statement.

A123, the recipient of a $249.1 million federal grant, held the auction behind closed doors in the Chicago law offices of Latham & Watkins. The auction began on Dec. 6 with prospective bidders including Johnson Controls, Wanxiang, Siemens AG (SIE) of Germany and Tokyo-based NEC Corp.

As to the why and how of A123 Systems’ bankruptcy in the first place, Dexter Johnson in his Oct. 17, 2012 posting on Nanoclast (on the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] website) suggests it had to do with old fashioned supply and demand economics,

The underlying problems of A123 Systems, Solyndra, and Konarka are not political ones of governmental policies—they’re illustrations of the futility of ignoring good old-fashioned supply-and-demand economics. (Solyndra, besides never being competitive with traditional energy sources, was also forced to compete with heavily subsidized solar alternatives.)

There is little question that A123 Systems made a better Li-ion battery than its competitors. The problem was the nano-enabled battery that they came up with for powering electric vehicles (EVs) was not in competition with other Li-ion batteries, but with the internal combustion engine.

This is not a political issue or an ideological issue, it’s a numbers issue. …

Dexter mentions A123 Systems again in an Oct. 19, 2012 posting (Nanotechnology As Socio-Political Project), featuring a broader analysis of the issues around commercializing technologies. There’s a thesis in here for someone.

ETA Dec. 13, 2012: The US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has approved the sale of A123 Systems’ military business to Navitas according to a Dec. 13, 2012 news item on Azonano,

Navitas Systems LLC, a leading provider of energy-enabled system solutions and energy storage products for commercial, industrial and government agency customers, today announced that the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (the “Court”) has approved the sale of A123 Systems’ Ann Arbor, Mich.-based government business, including all U.S. military contracts, for $2.3 million to Navitas. …

Navitas Systems can be found here.