South Korea-based Graphene Square, developer and distributor of graphene materials and films, has announced that it is preparing for an IPO to fuel global expansion. It will select the underwriter this year and plans its Kosdaq listing in 2022 through the Technology Special Listing program, a system introduced in 2005 to allow promising startups to list the local bourse based on a technology evaluation conducted by Korea Exchange-designated institutions.
Graphene Square’s competitive edge is said to be found in its proprietary chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method used for the production of graphene. The method is based on the research of Professor Hong Byung-hee of Seoul National University on the synthesis of large-area graphene. In fact, Graphene Square itself was established in 2012 as a spin-off of chemistry professor Hong Byung-hee’s lab at Seoul National University.
“Simply put, our CVD technology adheres high molecular compounds onto the copper-synthesized graphene, then removes the copper using an etchant, and finally separates the graphene from the molecular compound,” explained Hong.
Graphene Square opened the door for mass production of graphene by combining the CVD technology with the "roll-to-roll" technique also devised by Hong, who still oversees the company as its CEO. The technique, apparent from its name, is just like printing newspapers as every production stage is conducted on a single production line, thus maximizing productivity.
Professor Hong highlighted that his company’s graphene synthesis and production equipment is particularly sought after by overseas universities and research institutions, driving the vast majority of the company’s current revenue. Its most recent sales were to the Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion, which purchased three sets of CVD equipment earlier this year.
Among the various potential segments for use of CVD graphene, Graphene Square is currently focusing on the development of transparent heaters for EVs. The heater attaches graphene onto the glass film of the front windshield of the vehicle and produces heat, thereby preventing frost.
The company stated that “there is severe energy waste when EVs make hot air for defrosting. We are currently working closely with a global auto company to manufacture the transparent heaters by 2022.”
The company is also developing pellicles for the extreme ultra violet (EUV) lithography process. EUV lithography in the semiconductor industry uses EUV light that has been penetrated through the patterned EUV "mask" to draw circuits on a wafer. The pellicles are basically thin films that protect the expensive EUV masks by covering their surfaces.
Graphene Square stated that it sees a huge opportunity in the EUV sector as “the pellicle technology used in the EUV sector is not yet fully advanced in the market, despite the global trend of semiconductor manufacturers increasingly considering adopting the use of pellicles to protect the masks.”
Other areas of the company’s research for potential commercialization include applying graphene onto the current collectors of rechargeable batteries for improved capacity and charging speed, and onto bulletproof jackets.