Three companies win Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Center funding

Apr. 25, 2007 — The Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center has announced its first round of funding for three commercialization projects in nanomaterials. The Center targets partnerships of researchers from universities, small companies, large companies and entrepreneurs, and funds projects that have commercial or defense applications.

The Center granted NanoRDC, LLC $51,250 to develop and commercialize a chemical method for functionalizing carbon nanotubes (CNTs). This initiative will enable CNTs to be more effectively dispersed in a wide range of polymers at lower cost. Polymers using these treated CNTs will have enhanced antistatic and electrical conductivity, resulting in the expanded use of new rubber and plastic materials for the automotive, electronics, aerospace and defense industries. Applications include electrostatic painted plastic parts, static dissipation products, thermally conductive components and EMI shielding products.

Illuminex Corporation was awarded $300,000 to commercialize device technologies that utilize nanowire arrays. These arrays will be incorporated into a new generation of heat pipes, which makes the heat pipes more efficient in removing heat from microprocessor chips used in computer servers and laptops. If successful, the new nanowire technology has the ability to enable the computer industry to solve the challenging problem of removing the higher heat loads generated by the new generation of faster computer microprocessors.

Plextronics Inc. was funded in the amount of $200,500 to further the development of Plexcore PV active layer technology for organic solar cells. Organic solar cells use extremely thin layers of plastic semiconductors, instead of silicon, to absorb light and create electricity. This initiative will focus on the development of a new generation of polymer-based semi-conductive inks, Plexcore PV, that increase solar conversion efficiency, while extending the lifetime of the device. Success will remove one of the remaining barriers to broad market commercialization and make organic solar cells an economically viable form of renewable energy.

In addition to the Center’s funding for the three projects totaling $551,750, the companies have added cash and in-kind matches totaling $460,600.

In September 2006, the Center requested pre-proposal white papers prior to the submission of formal proposals that resulted in 38 submissions statewide. All proposals in the final round were judged by the Center’s technical advisory committee.

The grants were made possible by funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Air Force.

A second round of projects will be funded in the early summer of 2007; full proposals are due June 15.


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