To view Portfolio Business Success Stories click here!

Applied Separations, Inc. Applied Separations

Applied Separations and its partner, Halide Group, are working on a novel electrically conductive polymer composites for use in aircraft. The companies will prepare electrically conductive composites by infusing metal nano-particles into polymer composites containing carbon nano-tubes (CNTs). This raises the electrical conductivity of the CNT-containing composite allowing it to be used for electromagnetic shielding and lightning protection in aircraft. The processed composites are also improved in mechanical properties, especially toughness. The in-situ metalized CNT composites can be used to replace the metal mesh cages and films currently used for discharge protection on aircraft with composite bodies, thereby lowering the weight of the aircraft without loss of performance.

Arkema, Inc.

Arkema, in partnership with Lehigh University, is developing and commercializing their Nanostrength ® block copolymer technologArkemay for toughening epoxies in wind energy and electronic materials applications. This technology will be extremely valuable in wind energy applications where there is a demand for increased reliability of the wind blades without sacrificing strength. Likewise, in electronic materials, higher operating and processing temperatures have necessitated increased resistance to crack propagation without sacrificing the Tg of the epoxy. Arkema’s Nanostrength ® block copolymer and BlocBuilder ® controlled radical polymerization technology are also valuable in a wide variety of adhesive, coating and composite applications. >>>Success Story

Bayer MaterialScience, LLC

Bayer MaterialScienceBayer MaterialScience is developing flexible sensing films using Baytubes® carbon nanotubes. The project is in partnership with Quality of Life Technology Center, which was founded jointly by Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh. The sensing films utilize the mechanical properties of Baytubes® carbon nanotubes which provide electrical conductivity through their large surface area. By leveraging the benefits of the nanotubes in the final product, the technology will potentially provide flexibility, durability and customization to prevent pressure sores and deep tissue damage in wheelchair users. >>>Success Story

Carnegie Mellon University – Dr. Robert Davis and Dr. Lisa Porter
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University investigators are researching and developing a lifetime testing of solid-state semiconductor sensors for the quantitative and repeated detection of methane (CH4) and ethylene (C2H4). This research will be primarily devoted to the optimization of the chemistry of the catalyst metal and or metal alloys, exposure time and procedure for recovery of the sensor to the initial base line electronic characteristics, and life-time testing involving repeated detection and recovery as a function of temperature to 200°C. Example applications of the sensors include mine safety, detection of leaking hydrocarbon gases as an indicator of oil seepage in deep ocean wells and within transformers for local power distribution.

Carnegie Mellon University - Mohammad Islam

Carnegie Mellon UniversityCarnegie Mellon University investigators are fabricating and characterizing mechanical strength and electrical transport properties in three-dimensional (3-D) pristine carbon nanotube (CNT) networks. The researchers on the project call these 3-D porous CNT networks CNT aerogel. Aerogels are ultra-light, highly porous materials. CNT aerogels are different from traditional aerogels in that atomic-level order is present. The high mechanical strength and electrical conductivities measured and predicted for single CNTs make CNT aerogels intriguing candidates for next-generation filler for composites and electrodes for supercapacitors.

Crystalplex Corporation
Crystalplex Corporation
Crystalplex has developed proprietary quantum dot (QD) technology for solid state lighting applications. The Crystalplex technology enables the manufacture of more cost-effective and efficient solid state light sources (light engines), at performance levels beyond the reach of current rare-earth phosphor-based white LEDs. It also enables the production of RGB white light engines for LCD backlight units (BLUs) with markedly improved performance. Crystalplex plans to use the Center's grant to build and characterize QD-LED prototypes. These prototypes will lead to the joint development of commercial subassemblies for solid state luminaries and LCD BLUs with our commercial partners. These light engine sub-assembly applications are the ideal commercial entry point for Crystalplex’s QD technology. >>>Success Story

Drexel University - Dr. Vibha KalraDrexel University

Researchers at Drexel University are developing novel electrodes for Li-based, particularly Li-ion batteries using nanofibers (diameters~100-500 nm). The work will focus on developing a controlled directed assembly of electron conducting material and high capacity transition metal oxides into a nanofiber-based hierarchically porous framework. The electrodes will be fabricated via a simple and scalable electro spinning technique that uses strong electric field to accelerate and thin a polymer solution/melt jet forming nanoscale fibers. Electrode fabrication will be followed by performance testing of proposed materials in Li-ion batteries. The aim of the work is to increase the energy density of Li-batteries, which is critical for successful development of electric vehicles.

EC Power, LLCEC Power

EC Power is working to commercialize an energy dense Li-ion battery in 18650 cylindrical cell format, by integrating new classes of nanocomposite electrode materials using a novel fabrication process. The cell will incorporate a high capacity Si-carbon anode, developed by Dr. Donghai Wang at The Pennsylvania State University, and a layered metal oxide high voltage cathode technology developed at EC Power. The anode and cathode active materials will be incorporated into the cell utilizing EC Power’s unique design tools and fabrication techniques, which maximize the capacity which can be stored and extracted from the 18650 cell configuration. The large format Li-ion cell developed will be particularly useful for military applications where energy density is of paramount concern.

FLIR Systems, Inc.

FLIR SystemsFLIR Systems is developing a process for production of molecules that are identical to diesel fuel. This “next generation biofuel” is designed to be a drop-in replacement for petroleum-based fuels.  It can represent an improvement over current biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel for three primary reasons. First, it has the potential to be compatible with existing infrastructure, such as engines and fuel delivery. Second, it can be compatible with multiple sources of energy, such as direct sunlight, cellulose or even manure. Finally, it can be independent of food-related energy sources and, as a result, neither competes with food production nor impacts food prices. FLIR is a leader in the development and integration of advanced biotechnologies for commercial and government applications.

Graphene FrontiersGraphene Frontiers

Graphene Frontiers researchers are developing and testing methods to transfer of large area, single atom thick, graphene films to a polymeric substrate for use as a combination transparent, flexible conductor and ultrahigh barrier layer for use in thin film solar and flexible electronics applications. Graphene Frontiers APCVD process and transfer method is uniquely suited for industrial scale, roll-to-roll production that will allow manufacturers incorporate graphene films into existing or modified production lines at low cost. Specifically targeted applications include flexible, transparent electrodes for touch screens, display screens, and thin film photovoltaics, as well as impermeable coatings for corrosion and/or chemical protection.

ICx Technologies, Inc.

ICx Technologies (now FLIR Systems) is a leader in the development and integration of advanced sensor technologies for homeland security, force protection and commercial applications. Sensors developed by ICx detect and identify chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats, and deliver superior awareness and actionable intelligence for wide-area surveillance, intrusion detection and facility security. ICx is developing a smart “strippable” catalytic coatings composed of enzymes and pH-responsive nanoparticles. The coating will respond to select toxic chemical threats by both decontaminating the surface and changing the color to reveal the location of the toxic chemical. >>>Success Story

Industrial Learning Systems, Inc.Industrial Learning Systems

Industrial Learning Systems (iLS), is developing a novel silicon wafering technology for the continuous production of nano structured solar cells. The project is based on the patented technology filed through Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and licensed to iLS. In this project, the light capturing ability of the wafer is improved by chemical texturization and nano-architectures to increase the surface area and reduce the reflectivity. This provides enhanced light absorption and solar conversion efficiency. The proposed wafering and texturization process has the potential to reduce the wafer cost by a factor of 4 or more relative to the current technology, so that solar electricity will reach grid parity at about 40-60c/kW.

Integran Technologies USAIntergran Technologies USA

Integran Technologies USA is commercializing a new nanomaterials coaxial wire technology. This novel wire technology will increase the durability of lightweight electrical wiring systems, and will benefit weight reduction and energy efficiency initiatives in the transportation sector. This project will help to establish the new wire technology as a fully proven, mass production-ready process and to create a new technology and market support in Pittsburgh to serve the wiring industry across the U.S.

Illuminex Corporation
Illuminex Corporation
Illuminex is commercializing a novel copper-silicon nanostructured anode for the next generation of lithium-ion batteries (LIB). Silicon is an attractive anode material because it has a low discharge potential and the highest known theoretical charge capacity (4,200 mAh g-1). However bulk silicon expands (up to 400%) as it reacts with lithium, and disintegrates from the stress, preventing the successful implementation of silicon in LIB’s so far. The Illuminex copper-silicon nanostructure, consisting of an array of Cu core-Si shell nanowires, provides a high quantity of silicon in a thin film configuration which expands homogeneously minimizing stress, and has ductile behavior accommodating any existing stress. This technology will lead to higher energy density LIB’s used extensively in portable electronics and will significantly benefit the development of electric vehicles.

Keystone Nano, Inc.

Keystone Nano, Inc.Keystone Nano is developing a ceramide nanoliposome as an improved chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of liver cancer. The nanoliposome structure utilized by Keystone Nano enables the delivery of ceramide, a bioactive sphingolipid that selectively kills cancerous cells, which could previously not be administered as a drug due to its poor solubility in aqueous solutions. By incorporating ceramide into a nano-sized lipid bilayer structure such as a liposome, this therapeutic can be successfully delivered intravenously and shows impressive anti-tumor efficacy in models of human liver cancer. The Center’s support of Keystone Nano’s ceramide nanoliposome project will support further testing of this formulation to enable FDA review of this product.

Kurt J. Lesker Company

Kurt J. Lesker Company (KJLC), in partnership with Integran Technologies USA commercializing nCu (high Kurt J. Lesker Companypurity Copper) sputtering targets used in the fabrication of the latest generation semiconductor devices. This next generation product will be manufactured using Nanovate™ technology, a novel process technique, developed by project partner, Integran Technologies USA. Integran’s advanced material technology combined with the global presence and manufacturing experience of the Kurt J. Lesker Co. creates a unique and global opportunity for both semiconductor and materials customers.

Lehigh University - Dr. Mark Snyder and Dr. James Gilchrist Lehigh University

Lehigh University researchers are working to dramatically improve solar-to-electric conversion efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) while transitioning this technology to flexible substrates. DSSCs are non-silicon based thin film photovoltaic devices with commercial promise linked to efficiency improvements and substrate versatility. The team will work towards commercialization of a flexible, higher-efficiency solar-to-electric platform for powering small electronic devices by combining synthesis of novel porous materials, embedded microlens technologies, and directed particle deposition strategies. These combined approaches should lead to structured DSSC anodes capable of controlling light and electron transport and realization of scalable roll-to-roll device fabrication on flexible substrates.

Liquid X Printed Metals, Inc.Liquid X

Liquid X is a Carnegie Mellon University start-up company that was formed in January of 2010. The mission of the company is to provide chemical solutions to the nascent printed electronics market. Specifically, the company seeks to supply molecular inks comprised of novel metal complexes that can be printed as either solutions or neat liquids. These materials can then metalize, thermally or photochemically, to form highly conductive traces and structures on a variety of substrates, including flexible organic supports. It is our belief that this disruptive technology will further the field of printed electronics by providing low cost, printable and disposable devices across a wide spectrum of technologies. >>>Success Story

NanoGrass Solar, LLC NanoGrass Solar

NanoGrass Solar produces nanostructures such as nanowires and nanocones which collect sunlight with high efficiency while occupying a fraction of the volume. Small dimension affords these structures important physical advantages such as high surface area and large light absorption coefficient making them much more suitable for photovoltaic (PV) applications, than the same material in bulk or thin-film form. A factor of about 10 increase in absorption of light becomes possible while using about 10 percent high efficiency material. Furthermore, these compound semiconductor structures are grown on cheaper, low efficiency solar cell substrates. The growth and processing technology that is under development is geared for large scale production.

nanoGriptech, LLCnanoGriptech

nanoGriptech, a spin-off company from Carnegie Mellon University is commercializing novel gecko foot-hairs inspired polymer fibrillar adhesives. These materials mimic the nano- and micro-fibers that provide geckos and a number of other animals with their ability to grip strongly and repeatedly to smooth and rough surfaces even in wet and dirty outdoors conditions. This project will allow scaled up micro/nano-manufacturing process development for polymer fibrillar adhesives for new commercial sportswear apparel applications in collaboration with a leading company in the sporting goods industry and a leading materials company. >>>Success Story

NanoHorizons Inc.NanoHorizons

NanoHorizons Inc., a spin-out of Penn State University, is working to commercialize silver nanoscale antimicrobial additives for an efficacious antimicrobial aftermarket spray system for consumer products routinely contaminated with odor-causing bacteria.  The addition of antimicrobial protection to improve the hygiene of products is an emerging approach to add value and utility-especially for products that are infrequently laundered or shared among multiple users. Their channel partner, Eco Product Group LLC of Pittsburgh, PA has identified a market demand for aftermarket silver based anti-odor treatment systems that can be applied as needed to products such as sporting gear, protective equipment, orthopedic supports and camping equipment.

nanoLambda, Inc.nanoLambda

nanoLambda is developing an ultra compact, highly accurate LED color (wavelength) monitoring sensor with 2nm accuracy. The sensor combines an innovative nano-optic filter array technology and high throughput monolithic nano-imprint process for low cost pilot production. The sensor will monitor the color quality of LEDs for the color consistency over time and temperature, which is one of the biggest challenges in the soon-to-explode LED markets. >>>Success Story

Nelum Sciences, LLCNelum Sciences

Nelum Sciences, LLC, a spin-off from University of Pennsylvania, is commercializing an optically-transmitting superhydrophobic nano-coating that confers water repellent properties to plastics, glass, fabrics and a range of other surfaces. The technology is being developed initially for use in sporting and industrial protective eyewear application in collaboration with a distribution partner with established product lines in this vertical industry. Follow-on products will include superhydrophobic, superhydrophilic and superoleophobic coasting and adhesives for use in transportation, security systems, consumer electronics, and other applications.

The Pennsylvania State University - Dr. Jerzy Ruzyllo and Dr. Jian Xu
The Pennsylvania State University

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University are developing a anti-counterfeiting/identification products with colloidal quantum dot (CQD) inks. This attempt originates from the marriage of the superior optical properties with chemical and thermal stabilities of the newly-developed semiconductor CQDs. The fluorescent CQDs can be dispersed in solvent or mixed with organic solutions to form CQD inks. The key element of the project is that it is using novel mist deposition technique which in conjunction with CQD inks allows printing of barcode-type labels featuring a very large number of codes available for identification.

The Pennsylvania State University - Dr. Jeffrey Catchmark

The Pennsylvania State UniversityResearchers at The Pennsylvania State University are developing a new compostable water barrier coating for paper based food packaging and food handling applications. The object of the project is to develop a coating material composition which acts as an excellent liquid barrier, and can be applied to the surface of a cellulose containing sheet using a process which is compatible with existing commercially implemented coating technologies. Disposable compostable materials for food handling and packaging are needed to replace existing products based on petroleum derived polymers.

The Pennsylvania State University - Dr. Donghai Wang The Pennsylvania State University

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University are developing and commercializing an advanced graphene-based nanocomposite for electrochemical energy storage applications such as Li-ion battery and supercapacitors. The novel graphene-based nanocomposite will have high energy density and/or high power in the energy storage devices, and it can also significantly improve electrode kinetic and cycling stability for energy storage techniques. The team’s previous successful experiences in technology commercialization will help accelerating the commercialization of graphene-based nanocomposite for electrochemical energy storage dramatically. >>>Success Story

PlextronicsSM, Inc.Plextronics

Plextronics is commercializing a new, high performing active layer technology for organic photovoltaic solar cell known as Plexcore™ PV. This project will develop a new generation of polymer-based inks that will increase solar conversion efficiency and extend the life of existing organic semiconductor devices. Improved performance organic solar cells will enable rapid commercial expansion of zero emission solar energy generation, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels. >>>Success Story

Rhodia Inc. Rhodia

Rhodia is working on commercializing a cost-effective, industrial scale synthesis of a novel polymer system that promotes the manufacturing of high quality silver nanowires at a low cost. The project aims to replace expensive and brittle Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) transparent conductive coatings with inexpensive, flexible and process able suspensions of silver nanowires. These transparent conductive coatings are critical components in flexible and printable energy-based materials systems, as well as portable electronic devices.

RJ Lee Group, Inc.RJ Lee Group, Inc.

RJ Lee Group is commercializing a novel sampling technology for collection and analysis of airborne nanoparticles. The Personal Thermophoretic Nano-Particle Sampler (Nano-Sampler) is being developed to assist users of nanomaterials to monitor workplace environments for nanoparticles. The Nano-Sampler will be an unobtrusive, lapel-mounted device that uses the differential-temperature ("thermophoretic") force phenomenon to efficiently deposit nanoscale particles directly upon sampling grids suitable for analysis in an electron microscope. In this way, the most advanced analytical tools can be applied to monitoring and understanding the size, shape, surface-area, composition, and concentrations of nanoparticles. The Nano-Sampler will assist manufactures monitoring the potential release of nanoparticles during manufacture or use and will provide valuable information for the evaluation of potential health effects associated with nanoparticles.

SAVD Solar, Inc. SAVD Solar

SAVD is developing a disruptive solar cell technology that will dramatically improve cell efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The patent pending Self-Aligned Vertical Dipole (SAVD) structure enables enhanced absorption of light, which in turn has provided close to 50% conversion efficiency improvement in the lab. SAVD has successfully completed a proof-of-concept experiment demonstrating 50% solar cell efficiency improvement by incorporating this proprietary nano-optic structure on commercial silicon solar cells. In order to bring this SAVD cell technology from the lab to the market, the company will further develop and demonstrate a highly scalable, low cost manufacturing process.

SenSevere, LLC


SenSevere is commercializing a novel chemical sensor technology that is capable of withstanding severe conditions. The overarching goal is to deploy sensors within process streams that contain elevated temperature/pressure and extremely corrosive elements. Direct measurement of process conditions within industrial applications that contain such conditions will lead to improved feedback systems, and ultimately, enhanced safety and efficiency.

SolarPA, Inc.SolarPA

SolarPA is commercializing a nanocrystalline coating, Nanocoat. The nanocrystalline coating does the following: the nanocrystals in the coating bend the incoming sunlight minimizing reflection off the surface of the solar panels. It traps light inside the semiconductor materials and it redirects incoming light so that rather than passing through the thin semiconductor material, it travels along its surface, increasing the chances it will be absorbed. The technology is inexpensive and is expected to lower the cost per watt of solar power.

Strategic Polymer Sciences, Inc.

Strategic Polymer SciencesStrategic Polymer Sciences (SPS) is developing and commercializing an advanced nanostructured polymer hybrid capacitor film and prototype capacitors for implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). The novel capacitor will have high energy density, high reliability, and it can significantly reduce the size and cost of ICDs, enabling wide accessibility to millions of Americans threatened by sudden cardiac arrest disease. The company is a spin-off from The Pennsylvania State University with an exclusive license of the electro active polymer technologies invented by Dr. Qiming Zhang. The capacitor film made from SPS electropolymers can be commercially produced with thicknesses less than three micrometers and can be used in a variety of applications, such as medical devices, microelectronics, power electronics, hybrid electrical vehicles and military weapon systems. >>>Success Story

University of Pittsburgh - Dr. Judith Yang

University of PittsburghUniversity of Pittsburgh researchers are developing an ex situ environmental reactor accessory compatible with a transmission electron microscope (TEM) heating holder. The heating holder can be inserted and exposed to specific gas reactants and pressures, all while heating the sample and then placed into a TEM for nano-characterization. This type of system provides an easy-to-use, well-controlled alternative to investigate gas-solid reactions at a fraction of the cost of a dedicated environmental TEM. The studies enabled by this system will impact several energy-related technologies, in particular heterogeneous catalysis, which is used in fuel cells, hydrogen storage, petroleum refining as well as conversion of toxic gases to environmentally friendly ones.

University of Pennsylvania - Dr. Shu YangUniversity of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania researchers are developing a fabrication method to produce a superhydrophobic, omniphobic, and highly transparent nanocomposite film, which can be used as a peel-off, self-applicable protective film when laminated with a double-sided adhesive backing layer. It will allow for applications to a wide range of substrates that are not possible by wet coating processes. The film can be made anti-refractive and fingerprint-free by improving the design of nanotexture and surface chemistry. If successful, Yang will develop a roll-to-roll method to fabricate the nanotextured films from different low surface energy materials in a continuous fashion.

University of Pennsylvania - Dr. Russell CompostoUniversity of Pennsylvania

Dr. Russell Composto and University of Pennsylvania researchers are developing nanoengineered grafted polymer brushes that can prevent/inhibit catheter related bloodstream infections (CRBSI) via a novel two-step defense mechanism. Our research shows that these films grafted to model hard surfaces (e.g., glass) exhibit unique pH dependent swelling properties that inhibit bacteria attachment and retard biofilm formation. CRBSI is characterized by bacterial adhesion on indwelling vascular lines, followed by formation of a biofilm that anchors bacteria to the catheter surface. Once a biofilm forms, bacteria are 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than planktonic bacteria.

Y-Carbon, Inc.

Y-CarbonY-Carbon is commercializing its innovative nanoporous carbon technology for supercapacitors. Y-Carbon’s ground-breaking technology is based on the platform of making tunable nanoporous carbon. Its core mission is to develop and promote this award-winning (R&D 100 and NANO 50™) technology for the production of novel nanostructured carbon materials with precisely defined structure, porosity, and surface chemistry. The ability to tailor the properties of porous carbon materials is unique to Y-Carbon, thus providing a quantum leap in performance when used as electrodes in supercapacitors. With collaborative effort from the Center, Y-Carbon will develop and market high energy density and high-power density supercapacitors for a variety of electrical energy storage and management applications, including electronics, automotive industry and backup power. >>>Success Story


"Several new business opportunities have developed as a result of our affiliation with the Center. Certainly the $200,000 grant we received through the Center from the Air Force Research Laboratory helped us develop and scale up our ICD prototype for a major national medical device manufacturer, thereby cutting our time to market by two years. But the Center's technical expertise and the doors they opened for us, such as at the Office of Naval Research, also will pay dividends in the near future."

Ralph Russo
Former CEO, Strategic Polymer Sciences
Nano Center Impact