Conference Report: TechConnect 2012, Day 1

The 2012 TechConnect World Summit, Expo & Showcase opened Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The event serves as host to the National Innovation Showcase, whose mission is to accelerate the commercialization of “the world’s top innovations.” The meeting comprises about 300 technical presentations, 600 technical posters and another 100 investor presentations. Registered attendance is just north of 3000, which is about the same as the number of names on the authors list.

Before bifurcating into fifteen parallel sessions, the conference opened with three keynote talks providing an overview of government initiatives and nanotechnology innovation. Cyrus Wadia of the White House Office of Science & Technology described the Materials Genome Initiative, a program to accelerate information exchange and collaboration between national labs and industry and investors to foster commercialization of advanced materials for manufacturing. Leo Christodoulou of the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office extended the story to programs specifically focused on ways to use the emerging nanomaterials in volume manufacturing processes. Aymeric Sallin of NanoDimension brought it full circle with the investors’ perspective, starting with the reassuring message that nanotechnology innovation and commercialization is alive and well. He described several specific examples of lab-to-fab success, including Soladigm which makes electrochromic ‘dynamic glass’ for lighting & temperature control in commercial and home buildings for a 20% net energy savings; and Bind Biosciences which has developed a carrier molecule and surface binding technology for targeted delivery of drugs to specific cell clusters. He also announced the opening of a new fund by NanoDimension, which is conveniently headquartered in the Cayman Islands, proof that it’s not just a movie cliché.

YuanQiao Rao of Dow Chemical talked about the optical properties of hybrid materials of silica and silsesquioxanes, developed with an eye toward optoelectronics manufacturing. High optical contrast material sets are required for device integration. Heterogeneous morphology of the composites has a profound impact on their utility in these applications, as they do not necessarily behave ideally and continuously as composition varies. The materials chosen for further investigation were shown by AFM & TEM to be homogeneous, with no domains >1nm. All compositions investigated had transparencies >98%.

Prof. Joey Mead of U Mass Lowell showed some work on polymer manufacturing strategies for multifunctional nanomaterials. Methods such as mixed melts, twin screw extrusion, use of nanofillers, and directed polymer self-assembly have been used to fabricate structural shapes and patterns that would previously have been thought impossible without lithographic & plasma etch techniques. The research focuses on developing both the materials fabrication techniques and the use of the materials in functional devices using industrially-relevant and well-established manufacturing processes. The features shown in Figure 5 range from 300nm to 50nm in a single template.


Also read Conference report: TechConnect 2012, Day 2


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