Getting it out there: leading the charge in the advanced materials revolution
When it comes to research findings, Dr Koziol is clear about his ultimate intentions: to get the research out of the lab and into the real world, for individuals and companies to use.
With a background in chemistry and material science, he specialised in carbon-based nanotubes and in developing the production of graphene – one of the most promising advanced materials of our time. These materials can be used for many applications: ultralight cables and components can reduce weight and energy consumption of aircraft and vehicles; graphene can be used for many types of intelligent surfaces, including ultra-thin heating devices or automatic damage reporting.
Dr Koziol explains that it’s not just excellent science that industry needs – stepping beyond a single science problem and towards integrated systems is key: “Most people just target one thing, but I wanted us to move forward with big steps and on a really large scale. Sometimes a number of problems must be solved: in our power distribution systems you need new connectors, you need better insulation and some other developments as well, in order to make it a reality.”
This integrated thinking has led Dr Koziol to starting eight spinout companies so far. He also heads ‘Ultrawire’ a €3.3 million EU development consortium with industry partners including National Grid, Peugeot-Citroen and some of the world’s largest cable manufacturers. He has a leading role in the integration of old copper conductors with advanced materials to create lighter, more efficient alternatives.
As founder and executive director of Cambridge Nanosystems (CNS), his most fruitful spinout to date, Dr Koziol advises businesses on how to make use of advanced materials. But the company does not only consult: in 2013 CNS acquired Norwegian company GasPlas, whose plasma-based technology enabled cleaner, faster production of graphene using natural gas. This makes Dr Koziol’s company one of the largest producers of graphene in the world with a current production capacity of five tonnes per year. Additional facilities are underway to produce thousands of tonnes of high performance graphene.
CNS works with industries ranging from automotive and aerospace to power supply and construction so Dr Koziol understands the importance of engaging with their needs: “people don’t just say, ‘can I have a tonne of graphene?’ They say, ‘how do I improve my business and existing products with this new material?’”