Case Studies in Nanomanufacturing Commercialization Through Effective Partnerships and Technology Transfer: Rolith Corporation
With the increased emphasis towards nanomanufacturing and commercialization of nanotechnology-enabled products, one key challenge is enhancing the innovation cycle. Through the innovation cycle, fundamental discoveries in the nanosciences are translated to applications and product scale-up. As many start-up or small company innovators are resource limited, the strategy of establishing strong partnerships with academic institutions and researchers provides a very effective path to extended R&D activities. Such partnerships typically lead to intellectual property, licensing, and technology transfer that enhance the cultures of academic researchers and small businesses alike, both in providing new perspectives for each into the innovation cycle, as well as accelerating the time and path to commercialization. A recent prime example of this scenario combines innovations emerging from collaborations between an academic institution and a small business start-up. An important aspect of this example is the technology that represents a nanomanufacturing platform targeting specific applications, with the ability to expand to future applications facilitated through the ongoing collaborative partnership. While this model is not new, the unique aspect is the rapid evolution towards industrial scale manufacturing platforms for nanotechnology-enabled products.
“RML is a “platform” technology, which can be applied to a wide variety of applications and markets”, states Kobrin. “Our unique approach to nanopatterning, with its extraordinary flexibility and scalability, could open vast possibilities for advance products in commercial electronics, energy generation and storage, biotechnology, defense and others. Among applications on our near-term radar: AR surfaces, self-cleaning, anti-fog, anti-icing, anti-drag, anti-bacterial surfaces, transparent electrodes for displays, solar cells and LEDs, dye less color filters, absorption enhancement layers for solar cells, extraction enhancement layers for LEDs, 3D solar cells, and wire-grid polarizers.” Thus, such a platform technology provides an excellent example of nanomanufacturing technologies transitioning from academic research groups providing a platform to effective scaling the process for numerous high impact applications and markets.