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Cutting edge nanomaterials technology was showcased in the event of Pitch for Success held at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore on 18th November 2011. A scalable production of ultrahigh purity single-walled nanotubes with low cost was presented for the potential applications of electronics and biomedicines. A novel manufacturing process to synthesize large-area graphene without substrate transferring and etching process has been developed to produce transparent conductive films replacing ITO. Atomic layer deposition technique was adopted to fabricate electrochromic photonic crystals as an interlayer in the glass, enabling smart window to change colors, block UV, heat, and sunlight.

Key Words: Nanyang Technological University (NTU), single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), graphene, electrochromic photonic crystals (EPCs), biomedicine

December 13th, 2011

Cutting Edge Nanomaterials Technology Showcased at Nanyang Technological University

Nanotechnology has been gaining great attention of researchers and entrepreneurs around the world, due to its vast range of applications, such as functional surfaces, biomedicines, and electronics, etc., enabling higher performance, cost and energy saving products. Despite of the accelerating investment in Nanotech R&D in the past 10 years, challenges remain in the adoption of nanotechnology primarily due to market entry barrier, engineering difficulty in mass production, cost and safety concerns. Scientists from the Singapore Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have been developing innovative technologies to address some of the nanotech commercialization issues, particularly providing innovative materials technology solution to reduce cost and enhance performance for electronics and biomedicines. Some of these innovations were showcased at the NTU-Pitch for Success event held on Nov. 18th, 2012. The event was organized by Nanyang Innovation & Enterprise Office (NIEO) as an open forum to seek capital for the commercial ready research achievements developed in NTU in the field of nanotechnology, biomedicine, clean technology, and electronic devices. More than 100 participants, from research centers, industries, and government agencies, were present at this forum. We were particularly impressed by 3 research groups presented at the event their nanomaterials innovation.

To address the challenges of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) production and application such as scalability, purity, uniformity and high cost, Prof. Chen Yuan's group has developed a new catalyst (Co-TUD-1) for the scalable production of SWCNTs with ultrahigh purity (~99%), high uniformity (higher than 70%), and competitive price (~150 USD/g). The presenter Dr. WEI Li explained the high purity and uniformity SWCNTs which are applicable in electronics industry to replace ITO as a flexible transparent conductive films (TCFs) for touch screens, solar cells and organic light emission devices (OLEDs), as ink for printed electronics, as wires for field effect transistors (FETs), supercapacitors, and biomedicines (such as drug delivery). They have been actively collaborating with some of the top research groups in Japan, UK and USA focusing on application in solar cells and supercapacitors.

Graphene has become one of the most popular nanomaterials in recent years. Asian R&D and commercialization activities on graphene have been outstanding. Prof. Ma Jan's group, represented by Dr. YIN Zongyou, has developed an innovative manufacturing process involving graphene for producing TCFs without substrate transferring and etching process. Dr YIN emphasized that their process is capable of producing uniform and easily scalable to a large-area graphene sheet and minimizing contamination, yielding TCFs with a very low sheet resistance (~50Ω/sq) and a sufficient transparency (over 80%), as well as a work function (4.6eV) closed to that of ITO. This technology provides the capability of producing high performance and low cost TCFs as a replacement of ITO. Dr YIN also highlighted the high flexibility and chemical/thermal stability of their graphene films compared with ITO, suitable for flexible electronics applications.

Inspired from butterfly's wing photonic crystal structures, Prof. Alfred Tok Ling Yoong's group fabricated a high quality electrochromic photonic crystals (EPCs) layer using Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technique, and then controlled the color of EPCs through tuning the size of EPCs and the space among EPCs. This unique EPC layer has also been sandwiched into glass, enabling smart window that can change colors, block UV, heat, and sunlight. Its energy saving and high color tunability can drive exciting applications in interior design & architectures, anti-thermal & glare films, military installations, as well as displays. Currently the group is working towards scaling up the current prototype (2-5 cm2) to larger area which makes commercial sense.

In order to further push the presented technologies towards closer to commercialization and adoption by industry, funding is required. The workshop was organized to attract industry and investors' interest as well as seeking government funding support. SPRING Singapore, a funding agency that supports Singapore based SMEs introduced its funding schemes applicable to Singapore based start-ups. Dr. Rajan K. Kalidindi, from NIEO, summarized the purpose of the event, the role of NIEO in supporting technology commercialization activities and mechanism of cooperation with industry partners.

In summary, this event has served as a platform to connect scientists with industry partners and investors for filling the gap between research and industry applications. For more information, please write to .

The new catalyst and optimized process for the scalable production of ultrahigh purity and high uniformity SWCNTs, presented by Dr. WEI Li.

The design & synthesis process without substrate transfer and etching process for large-area grapheme film prototype, presented by Dr. YIN Zongyou.

The participants including technologists, entrepreneurs, potential investors, and government representatives at the Pitch for Success event held on 18th November, 2011 in Singapore Nanyang Technological University.

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