Our licensing opportunities tagged with Novel Materials are shown below.
Encapsulation technologies can be used as delivery systems for a variety of applications in beauty, personal care, food and healthcare. Encapsulation provides a means of targeting delivery, protecting unstable actives from degradation, formulating incompatible actives and in controlling release and bioavailability. Using microfluidics emulsification a team of scientists, led by Dr Tuomas Knowles of the University of Cambridge, have developed a method of forming nanofibrillar protein microcapsules. These protein microcapsules have several advantages over existing encapsulation techniques:
- the capsules are resistant to heat, pH, proteases and physical forces;
- the capsule formation does not use cross linking agents or synthetic polymers;
- capsule morphology and release characteristics can be controlled by adjusting production parameters;
- the capsules are biocompatible and biodegradable; and
- the capsules can be formed from all types of protein.
The unique properties of natural silk, including strength, elasticity and biocompatibility have driven the development of functional silk based biomaterials, however native silk is a challenging substrate to process due to its high viscosity and propensity to aggregate and therefore current use of silk for biomedical application is based on recombinant or reconstituted silk. Using a microfluidics based strategy a team of scientists, led by Dr Tuomas Knowles of the University of Cambridge have developed a method to pattern native silk into microgel structures. These silk microgels can be used as a means to store native silk for several months without aggregation, whereas currently native silk is only stable for a few hours. Native silk has direct uses in medical devices, beauty and personal care and textiles. The silk microgels could also be used as a biocompatible encapsulation method for delivery of active ingredients.
A new method for low cost, high yield and quality graphene has been developed. It is envisaged that the electrochemical method could be readily scaled up using a multi-electrode cell with planar electrodes to produce 10kg/day which is more than current methods of chemical vapour deposition and exfoliation.
- Cost per tonne could be reduced by over two orders of magnitude
- Very high production rate compared to existing methods
- Very high quality graphene as shown by SEM image below
Structural colour is the effect seen in opal gemstones, peacock feathers and butterfly wings, where a regular nanostructure within the material causes light of specific wavelengths to be selectively reflected. By contrast, traditional methods of generating artificial colour rely on of dyes or pigments, which can be toxic, prone to bleaching by UV, or subject to other surface-level degradation.
Researchers in the Department of Physics have been exploring the behaviour of thin layers of noble metals such as gold, silver or copper coated onto elastomeric films containing nanometre scale voids. The interaction of these films with light results in selective absorption and hence structural colour which can be tuned by bending, stretching or applying an electric field. The techniques are believed to offer relatively low cost, scalable manufacturing processes which can be applied in a wide range of applications requiring novel colour behaviour in very thin coatings. These coatings could be applied to injection moulded items, fabric, films or any other solid format (e.g. http://www.wired.com/2013/11/weird-nanophotonic-materials/#slideid-309831).
The technology is protected by a granted US patent and is undergoing examination in Europe.
We are now looking for companies who wish to work with us to develop the technology into something more commercially applicable. If you would like to find out how you can work with us please get in touch using the contact details provided.
Printable electronics have to date been limited by the lower electron mobility and hence operation speed of organic materials compared to silicon, the production cost, processing requirements and performance of metal or carbon nanoparticle-based inks. Current generation transparent and electrically conductive layers are stiff and brittle and hence limit flexible electronic applications.
Professor Andrea Ferrari and his team in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge have developed a novel method of ink production based on layered nanomaterials such as graphene. This technology overcomes the issues of current printable inks and can be printed by various methods on flexible substrates.
Without using dyes or other applied colourants, polymer opals reflect specific colours due to their physical structure. By choosing the spacing of tiny polymer spheres which make up the material, the colour can be tailored to any colour in the rainbow. Stretching the material changes that spacing – and also the colour. So a sample of polymer opal material might stretch from red to green and then blue, reversibly relaxing back to its original colour. Colour changes can even be localised to reveal a pattern such as a logo on stretching.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge, working with colleagues at the LBF Fraunhofer Institute in Darmstadt (formerly DKI), have developed this material system and its manufacturing process so that polymer opals can now be produced in an industrially scalable way and laminated simply onto any appropriate substrate, including fabric, for applications such as security, brand protection and clothing. We are now actively seeking a partner to take this process to the next stage and would welcome contact from companies with interest or experience in this area.
Please see the linked documents for technical information and a more visual demonstration of polymer opals’ colour behaviour.
Gaussian Approximation Potential (GAP) is a novel atomistic modelling technique that combines accuracy with speed. By inferring the energy of an atom from the position and identity of its neighbours using a precomputed database of exact quantum mechanical solutions, the potential energy surface of a system of atoms and molecules is approximated.
This methodology allows a controllable compromise to be made between the accuracy of Quantum Chemistry models and the speed of Interatomic Potential methods, with applications in a diverse range of fields including pharmaceuticals, aerospace, electronics and biotechnology.