Case study: Graphene

A customer wanted to build a patent portfolio in the fast-growing area of graphene, and sought new ideas for in any large-scale application.

Coming from a chemistry background, Dr. Miller understood the basic capabilities of the material.  Yet to come up with new ideas that are competitive with the state of the art is not simple.  The basic process is as follows:

  • Read
  • Find a problem stated in the research literature as unsolved
  • Come up with a first idea for a solution
  • Find out that the first idea is either bad, or already has been done
  • Use this learning to develop a second idea
  • Repeat the previous two steps, until an appropriate problem-solution fit can be established
  • Work through the details of implementation, to ensure the idea can be executed at scale, and within cost goals

The key insight in this or any other ideation activity is that the purpose of the first idea is to die.  The same can be said for the second idea.  Once the ego-driven notion of “my idea has to be the best” is out of the way, concepts come and go quicker, and by iterating it’s possible to efficiently drive to a promising solution.

Graphene ideation, which began in 2010, has produced 15 issued patents so far.  Working as a consultant and as an inventor for hire, Dr. Miller has generated ideas that have led to more than 75 issued US patents in total across a broad range of fields, including: