Here’s a rare find — a 24-year-old settled in Bengaluru who does not shop online for grocery or food. This PhD holder in material sciences from IIT Roorkee, Akshay Singhal, was put off by the reams of packaging that delivery companies use. All of it ends up as plastic waste. He even wrote to e-commerce companies, questioning their logic. It is not surprising, therefore, that such a person now runs an environmentally conscious business.
Along with Kartik Hajela, Singhal founded Log 9 Materials in 2015. The start-up uses graphene — a wonder material that is thin, strong and an efficient conductor of heat and electricity — in a range of products, right from cigarette filters to aircraft coatings.
Singhal’s interest in nanotechnology found support early. His grandfather’s brother, who had been working in nanotechnology with the National Physical Laboratory for 40 years, retired when the youngster was joining college. Seeing Singhal’s interest in material science, his grand-uncle travelled from Delhi to Roorkee every week and set up a lab in the college, paying for the equipment out of his own pocket.
The investment seems to have paid off. Singhal’s three-year-old start-up, today, has launched two products—a cigarette filter and an oil absorbent pad – with many more under development. Started with an initial investment of Rs.4 million, the start-up, currently, holds three patents in graphene products and synthesis.
When they set out, Singhal and Hajela pursued a simple idea — to manufacture graphene as a material and supply it to academic institutions and research labs.
Dr Suryasarathi Bose, assistant professor, who works on graphene-based composites at the Department of Materials Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), has been sourcing graphene from Log 9 for over a year now. He finds their material superior to that of other vendors’. “We are seeing very promising results and are now associating with Log 9 for several of our applications,” he says. The IISC is working on a graphene-based water purification membrane and another project on electromagnetic shielding, especially for cell phones and other electronics.