Flexible phone screen chemicals kick off new industry partnership for South Korea and Australia

Seoul firm KISCO and CSIRO invest in Melbourne’s Boron Molecular, taking CSIRO precision chemistry to new global customers


Launch: 3pm KST, 4pm AEST, Thursday 9 July 2020, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Seoul and via Zoom
With His Excellency James Choi, Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

The next generation of flexible phone screens and other high tech products are one step closer to development following a partnership agreement between Melbourne company Boron Molecular; South Korean chemical company, the Kyung-In Synthetic Corporation (KISCO); and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. KISCO and CSIRO will both take a minority shareholding in Boron Molecular.

The agreement, announced in Seoul on Thursday 9 July, will enable the continued growth of Boron Molecular’s manufacturing capacity in Australia, and use CSIRO chemical technologies to open up global markets for:

  • High purity, precision engineered polymers for flexible phone screens, solar cells and other flexible electronics. High purity is needed for material flexibility but is difficult to achieve with current manufacturing approaches.
  • Wide scale use of CSIRO’s reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) technology for the manufacture of plastics and other polymers for use across health, industry and agriculture. Boron Molecular has taken RAFT to the world with high-quality commercial products and multiple customers are now entering commercial production of precision RAFT polymers.
  • Commercial scale production of MOFs. These ‘magic crystals’ are metal organic frameworks which have a massive surface area that can be engineered to absorb molecules and harvest water from air.

“We thank CSIRO for their long term trust in, and support for our company,” says Boron Molecular Managing Director, Zoran Manev. “Now with KISCO, we can offer CSIRO’s chemical technologies at scale to a global market.”

“CSIRO is a powerhouse of chemistry research. Boron Molecular have the technology translation skills and work closely with CSIRO in Australia. KISCO has always invested in research and development and we have the facilities to manufacture at scale. Together we can reach global markets with these technologies,” says KISCO CEO and President, Dr Sung Yong Cho.

“We’re looking forward to making the first products from this new partnership available to Korean electronics companies this year.”

Dr John Tsanaktsidis, CSIRO’s Advanced Fibres and Chemical Industries Research Director, said, “The new agreement will bolster Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capability, create local jobs and open the door for Boron Molecular to further commercialise CSIRO’s technology in new global markets via KISCO’s international links and production capacity.

“Our partnership with KISCO and Boron Molecular builds on over 40 years of CSIRO’s technological leadership in chemical processing and polymers which has led to Australia’s plastic banknote technology, extended wear contact lenses, biodegradable plastics for biomedical applications, and many other products.”

Boron Molecular has adopted CSIRO’s flow chemistry technology to make the reagents for RAFT and to make MOFs. This technology allows precise, localised heat, pressure and mixing as chemicals flow continuously through pipes or tubes.  The overall result is competitive high-quality materials with smaller capital expenditure and production costs. The new agreement will open the door for Boron Molecular to further commercialise CSIRO’s technology in new products and new global markets via KISCO’s international links and production capacity.

The first products to reach the market will be high purity, precision engineered polymers for the electronics industry. These will be made using both flow chemistry and RAFT.

The Kyung-In Synthetic Corporation (KISCO) creates colours and chemical solutions. For almost 50 years the KISCO group of companies has been producing dyes, inks, fine chemicals and materials for textiles, food, agriculture and electronics. They have large-scale production facilities in 11 plants across Korea, China and Turkey. Their 2019 turnover was about $US310M.

Boron Molecular was spun out of CSIRO 20 years ago and successfully took a suite of products to market that are now used by global pharmaceutical companies as building blocks for new drugs. In 2015 the company signed a master license agreement with CSIRO’s for the commercial exploitation of a suite of CSIRO polymer and advanced material technologies including RAFT. Boron Molecular is an Australian company with manufacturing facilities in Melbourne and Raleigh, NC.

CSIRO is Australia’s national science agency and innovation catalyst. It solves the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. CSIRO’s collaborative research turns science into solutions for food security and quality; clean energy and resources; health and wellbeing; resilient and valuable environments; innovative industries; and a secure Australia and region.

Photos, videos and supporting releases available at https://bit.ly/2O7qrTV


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