Little by Little

Article by Matt Winslow

Creating scalable nanomaterials for industry

EXPERTS have been touting nanotechnology as the next Industrial Revolution for the better part of the last 20 years. To date, the most common commercial applications for nanomaterials are as whiteners or UV filters in consumer products. Not exactly boundary-pushing materials science. However, specialty chemical companies are increasingly exploring how precisely-engineered nanomaterials can help them move up the value chain and offer higher-margin products to their customers.

But developing and scaling performance nanomaterials for industrial applications is still a complex, highly-specialised skillset that requires several constituencies to closely collaborate and, in many cases, co-design new processes never employed before in the materials industry. For example, finely-tuned zirconia nanoparticles, when uniformly dispersed in optical coatings, can boost the light output of touch screens and displays by increasing their index of refraction. Creating, functionalising and then manufacturing these nanoparticles is not a trivial task. To be successful, the zirconia nanoparticles must meet the following minimal requirements:

  • particles must be surface-modified to reduce the chance of agglomeration;
  • polydispersity index must be at or near 0.1;
  • they must be compatible with complex organic matrices;
  • they must have no haze when cured into a final film; and
  • they must seamlessly integrate into a company’s manufacturing processes.
  • It doesn’t take a seasoned chemical engineer to understand how difficult it is to create precisely-engineered nanoparticles that meet these requirements. Further, the synthesis process must be scalable and the manufactured cost must meet the customer-
    defined price parameters. The challenge can be daunting but the rewards are substantial.

According to analyst BCC Research, the nanomaterials market is set to grow from US$32.5bn in 2016 to US$77.3bn in 2021, demonstrating a 19% year-over-year growth.

Cerion designs, optimises, scales up and manufactures high-performance inorganic nanoparticles for industrial companies. We support the research and commercial efforts of a diverse range of industries including drug development, drug delivery, functional coatings, thin films, catalysts, printed electronics and antimicrobials. A majority of our customers are looking to use nanomaterials to enable next-generation performance improvements to existing products, or to develop new products.

According to BCC Research, the nanomaterials market is set to grow from US$32.5bn in 2016 to US$77.3bn in 2021, demonstrating a 19% year-over-year growth

Article by Matt Winslow

Chief Operating Officer, Cerion Advanced Materials

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