2010 President's Report

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How will we drive the new knowledge-based economy? MSU IS FUELING NEXT-GENERATION TECHNOLOGY. THE 			ECONOMY IS CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF.

As the terrain continues to shift in this new global knowledge economy, Michigan State University is gaining ground for the state of Michigan. In the summer of 2010, MSU spin-off corporation XG Sciences Inc. agreed to partner with Korean-based technology conglomerate Hanwha Group, which has invested $3 million to further research a nanomaterial discovered and developed by an MSU team of engineers.

“We’re on the right trajectory, creating a company and jobs and making our manufacturing base more competitive with international companies,” says Lawrence Drzal, University Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering and materials science, who leads the MSU team that created the nanomaterial and is one of the original founders of XG Sciences, which launched in 2006.

The advanced materials Drzal developed in his lab and licensed to XG Sciences are known as xGnP brand Graphene Nanoplatelets. That’s complicated name for a nanomaterial that can impart its wide range of beneficial properties—including thermal and electrical conductivity like copper, stiffness and strength greater than carbon fibers, and reduced flammability—to materials to which it is added at small concentrations. While the nanomaterial is invisible to the naked eye, it’s almost impossible not to see its potential to improve products—and the lives of those who use them.

“You can’t see it but you have to believe in it,” says Drzal.

The investment in the nanomaterial by Hanwha, which produces materials for the automotive, aviation, and consumer goods industries, will fuel breakthrough applications for these competitive industries that range from advanced composites to electronics and alternative energy generation and storage.

“The market is really huge,” says Drzal. “The only advantage you can have is to be among the leaders. The only hope we have is to stay ahead.”

Fortunately, momentum is building. XG Sciences recently received a grant from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority for its plans to hire 50 scientists, engineers, and factory technicians over the next five years and to expand to a larger location in Michigan.

Further innovation by MSU scientists and worldwide demand for new and better products that are created with the homegrown technology will, in turn, generate a new wave of economic development and jobs at home. With contributions like this, Michigan State is leading the way toward creating next-generation technology that will help Michigan businesses make money the old-fashioned way.

For more information:

Larry Drzal

XG Sciences Inc.

College of Engineering

This research is supported by MSU and a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s 21st Century Jobs Fund.