NanoDynamics Broadens Nanotech Toolkit With Nine Plasma Synthesis Patents From Rutgers University
|Versatile Low Energy Plasma Spray Process Cuts Energy Expenditures More than 50 Percent, Enables Ceramics for Combat Armor and Fluorescent Materials for LED Lighting|
“A low-energy plasma spray technique is key to the commercial viability of nanostructured ceramics”
NanoDynamics, Inc. announced today at NanoBusiness 2006, the NanoBusiness Alliance Conference, that it has licensed nine issued and pending patents from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, covering an innovative low-energy route to plasma-based synthesis as well as products enabled by the versatile technique. An innovative variation on the widely used materials processing technique for producing coatings and structural parts, the new plasma process reduces energy consumption by more than 50 percent. A leading nanomaterials and nanotechnology manufacturing company, NanoDynamics plans to commercialize the technique and assess resulting material characteristics for a variety of commercial products including durable, wear-resistant parts, high-efficiency LED lighting and tougher ceramics for lightweight combat armor.
"Nanotechnology in its most fundamental form is the manufacture and manipulation of materials at the atomic scale. From precipitation techniques to vapor deposition, it is the process and tools for engineering at that level that form the critical platform for developing new materials and products. This enabling plasma synthesis technique broadens NanoDynamics' proprietary toolkit for delivering commercial-grade products from basic nanomaterials to unique nanostructures that have significance on the performance of high value products much further up the supply chain," said Keith Blakely, CEO of NanoDynamics.
With the widest range of applications of any thermal spray technique, plasma spraying is a broadly applicable tool for producing a dense coating of a variety of materials including metals, ceramics, polymers and composites. The spraying method involves melting powdered materials in a jet of plasma gas heated to temperatures greater than 5,000 degrees C. The plasma gas propels the molten powder toward the substrate where the material cools to form a dense, strong deposit layer. Much of the energy expended in the conventional plasma spray process is spent inefficiently heating the plasma gas to those extreme temperatures. In contrast, NanoDynamics' newly licensed technique reduces wasted energy by concentrating heat on the material itself rather than the plasma gas carrier. In addition to making plasma spray processes more efficient for conventional uses, the low-energy technique allows for novel material combinations which result in entirely new uses for the coating process.
"A low-energy plasma spray technique is key to the commercial viability of nanostructured ceramics," said Bernard Kear, Ph.D., professor and director of Rutgers' Center for Nanomaterials Research. "This process represents a significant advancement in plasma spray science."
The market for coatings is growing at an annual rate of about 4.8 percent, according to the market analyst firm Freedonia Group, and will reach more $4.8 billion in US sales by 2009. In the ceramic coatings market, a $1.1 billion market it itself, according to BCC Research, plasma spray coatings account for more than 62 percent of the market. In 2004, this represented about $690 million in US sales, but is expected to reach more than $1 billion by 2009.
In order to address these markets, NanoDynamics intends to employ the plasma spray method to expand its product offerings in a variety of areas, including improved soldier survivability. With today's average soldier carrying up to 140 pounds of material with insufficient ballistic protection, reducing that load while improving protection represents a significant need. Already well into development on a solid oxide fuel cell that provides light-weight, portable power, NanoDynamics will employ the plasma technique to synthesize proprietary ceramics for use in developing lighter, tougher combat armor.
NanoDynamics also plans to use the Rutgers technology to prepare florescent nanomaterials for high-efficiency LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. With characteristic durability, low heat and long-life, LEDs are a promising replacement for older lighting technologies such as fluorescent and incandescent. LEDs are expected to increasingly shift from niche applications into the approximately $12 billion general illumination market within the next five years. However, the materials used today to make the white LEDs needed for homes and offices emit an excess of ultra-violet light, which results in a lower-efficiency light output and degrades the lights' plastic housing over time. By employing the new technique to incorporate florescent nanomaterials in inorganic materials, NanoDynamics can produce a commercially viable lighting package technology that increases light output and LED life.
NanoDynamics is a diversified technology and manufacturing company utilizing nanoscale engineering to address some of the world's biggest challenges. With nano-enabled solutions in the fields of energy, water processing, life sciences, electronics, advanced materials and consumer products, NanoDynamics is committed to delivering the power of nanotechnology to the global marketplace. For more information, visit the company's website at www.nanodynamics.com.