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Businessman In Paris

Smoltek’s unfair advantage

An ‘unfair advantage’ is a unique competitive advantage that others cannot match. Do you know what Smoltek's unfair advantage is? Carbon nanofibers? Think again. Or read this light-hearted column to find out what our real unfair advantage is.

Car­bon nan­ofibers are at the heart of our busi­ness. They allow us to cre­ate ultra-thin capa­cit­ors with very high capa­cit­ance rel­at­ive to their volume. They make it pos­sible to offer cell mater­i­als for elec­tro­lyz­ers that use only a frac­tion of the amount of iridi­um used in con­ven­tion­al PEM elec­tro­lyz­ers. And they are the basis for future innov­a­tions and busi­ness opportunities. 


One and all can make car­bon nanofibers.

Okay, that was an exag­ger­a­tion. Not all. But every­one with the neces­sary know­ledge and equip­ment can do it. And they are not few.

In light of this rev­el­a­tion, you are right to ask your­self wheth­er you have bet on the right horse. If car­bon nan­ofibers are not unique to Smol­tek, what is? What gives Smol­tek the edge over its com­pet­it­ors? What is Smoltek’s ‘unfair advant­age’ – a unique com­pet­it­ive advant­age that com­pet­it­ors simply can­not match?

Well, let me tell you: We own the holy grail. Not the one Indi­ana Jones sought in The Last Cru­sade, but the holy grail of our field: a meth­od to place and grow ultra-thin car­bon nan­ofibers pre­cisely on almost any sur­face, with  elec­tric con­tact between the sur­face and the fiber.

Rest sure we pro­tec­ted this unfair advant­age. We have 80+ approved pat­ents, and counting.

To illus­trate the pre­ci­sion with which we con­trol the pro­cess, we have cre­ated the world’s most mini­ature topi­ary garden made of car­bon nan­ofibers. We have grown the tiny fibers to form our logo. (I know, it’s a pretty geeky thing to do, but that’s who we are).

But there is a catch. This garden is so small that you can’t walk in it. In fact, you will need a scan­ning elec­tron micro­scope to even see it. 

If I may guess, you don’t have a scan­ning elec­tron micro­scope lying around. Do you? Luck­ily we have one, so that we can show you how tiny these guys really are. Just look below.

Note the mag­ni­fic­a­tion level at the bot­tom left. Swipe the image to the left on your phone or tab­let or click the right arrow on your com­puter to zoom in on the high­lighted area.

Quite some­thing, isn’t it?

Did you see the hair strand in the first pic­ture? In that image, the mag­ni­fic­a­tion is ‘only’ 69✕. In the last image, the mag­ni­fic­a­tion is a crazy 50,000✕. Yet the car­bon nan­ofibers look skinny com­pared to the hair strand in the first image. The hair strand is between 10,000 and 15,000 times thick­er than the car­bon nanofibers.

It’s hard to grasp the dif­fer­ence just from num­bers. An ana­logy might help.

Ima­gine you’re a tour­ist in Par­is, strolling around with your trusty guide­book. Mind you, it’s not a hefty brick, just an ordin­ary guide­book with a few hun­dred pages.

Now, pic­ture your­self arriv­ing at the base of the Eif­fel Tower. All around you, tour­ists look up in awe. But not you.

You lie on the ground and gently place your closed guide­book before you. Nev­er mind that every­one has stopped look­ing at the Eif­fel Tower and now stares at you. You are not crazy; what you do is per­fectly normal.

Now, take a moment to com­pare the thick­ness of your book with the tower­ing height of the Eif­fel Tower. Right there, you’ll find the same stag­ger­ing dif­fer­ence in mag­nitude between the dia­met­er of a car­bon nan­ofiber and a strand of hair.

Do you now appre­ci­ate how thin those fel­lows are?

Great! Then you can see what a huge achieve­ment it is to grow them in such a con­trolled way that they form our logo. (And don’t for­get, with elec­tric con­tact between the sur­face and the fiber. An achieve­ment in itself.)

It’s this cap­ab­il­ity that is our ‘unfair advant­age’ – To grow a large num­ber of extremely thin nan­ofibers, which the cur­rent is forced to fol­low up and down, for each indi­vidu­al fiber. That’s what makes our tech­no­logy so super­i­or when it comes to shrink­ing phys­ic­al sur­faces while main­tain­ing elec­tric­al properties. 

And this is what allow us to solve advanced mater­i­al engin­eer­ing prob­lems, such as cre­at­ing capa­cit­ors with very high capa­cit­ance in rela­tion to their volume and redu­cing the need for iridi­um in PEM electrolyzers.

And it’s this tech­no­logy, and the busi­ness oppor­tun­it­ies it opens up, that make Smol­tek such an excit­ing invest­ment oppor­tun­ity. Don’t you agree?

(By the way, I was not wholly truth­ful. It’s not nor­mal to lie down on the ground at the Eif­fel Tower. Just so you know.)

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