LCN and UCLB has agreed an exclusive licence with the world-leading gases and engineering company The Linde Group for a process to separate and purify single-wall nanotubes.
Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) offer excellent electronic and mechanical properties, making them suitable for a vast range of potential applications ranging from supercapacitors to touch-screen displays.
Current methods of production result in SWNTs that are typically highly agglomerated and contain a mixture of metallic and semiconducting species. However, to be of most use in commercial applications the nanotubes need to be individualised and purified. Current techniques used to deliver the required level of purity and separation typically produce very low yields (micrograms) and also often result in damage to the nanotubes.
A research team from the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) consisting of Dr Chris Howard and Professor Neal Skipper (UCL) and Professor Milo Shaffer and Dr Sian Fogden (Imperial College) has developed a novel process to separate and purify SWNTs. This sonication-free enrichment process relies on the selective reduction of SWNTs in liquid ammonia. The SWNTs accept solvated electrons and spontaneously de-bundle. The process is high-yielding, cost-effective and commercially scalable, thus addressing a key gating factor in the successful commercialisation of these unique materials.
The licence agreement negotiated by UCLB grants Linde exclusive rights to a portfolio of IP developed in the LCN relating to the carbon nanotube separation and purification process.
Dr Tim Fishlock, Senior Business Manager at UCLB, said: ‘This licence is the culmination of a programme of collaborative work between the LCN and Linde over the past few years. It’s a fantastic example of successful technology transfer, taking a process developed in the university lab to full industrial scale-up. Linde is the perfect commercialisation partner for this technology and we wish them every success with their future plans.’
Graham McFarlane, Head of Linde Nanomaterials, said: ‘We are excited about the potential of purified and separated carbon nanotubes for applications in microelectronics and other sectors. UCLB is an excellent technology partner. The technology transfer between UCLB and Linde was seamless. We have already scaled the technology at our research and development centre in San Marcos, CA. Products based on the technology will be available soon.”