WRALtechwire.com logo

Startup profile: Smart Material Solutions, commercializing nano-replication

Sep, 19 2017, 1:51 PM

Supported by the National Science Foundation, Raleigh-based Smart Material Solutions is commercializing nano-replication, a process developed at N.C. State.

It's called nanocoining.

"Surfaces coated with nano-structures have unique functional properties such as anti-reflectivity, which can eliminate glare without a foggy appearance, increase efficiency of solar cells ~5-10%, or extend battery life on electronics by making screens 30% brighter," says CEO and founder Stephen Furst.

"These structures can also be used to make structured color and self-cleaning surfaces."

Smart Material Solutions explains the process this way:

"Roll-to-roll (R2R) processes are attractive not only because they are fast, but also because they can create continuous patterns into a large-format film or panel. In the industry today, creating the drum mold remains a significant challenge because the mold must be wear-resistant and have a uniform pattern over areas exceeding 1 square meter. Micro-structured molds are made on a precision drum lathe, but traditional cutting tools are unable to create sub-wavelength features because any tool sharp enough to create them would be extremely fragile and susceptible to rapid wear.

"Nanocoining includes a custom tool that solves this problem by indenting the features rather than scraping the metal away, enabling features significantly smaller than the wavelength of light to be created at a rate of over 300 million features or 30 square millimeters per second. The custom tool is mounted to commercially available drum lathe with precision axes that move the indenting tool along the drum as it spins on an air-bearing spindle."

What is the potential of the technology?

"This is a platform technology that is applicable in a wide array of multi-billion dollar industries including solar energy, consumer electronics, automotive, and food packaging," Furst explains.

Furst, who hols a Ph.D, is a mechanical engineer with experience in precision engineering and smart materials research. He is a former track and field star at N.C. State.

Smart Material Solutions will explain its technology at CED Tech Venture on Sept. 19-20 in Raleigh.

This profile is one in a series written, edited and published by WRAL TechWire in partnership with the CED.


Profile: Smart Material Solutions, Inc.

‚ÄčThe Q&A:

Smart Material Solutions is focused on developing and commercializing a nano-replication process created at NC State called Nanocoining.

Surfaces coated with nano-structures have unique functional properties such as anti-reflectivity, which can eliminate glare without a foggy appearance, increase efficiency of solar cells ~5-10%, or extend battery life on electronics by making screens 30% brighter. These structures can also be used to make structured color and self-cleaning surfaces.

Coating a surface the size of a piece of printer paper requires roughly 1 trillion nano-features. As a result, these functional surfaces exist primarily in academia and on an area smaller than a postage stamp.

Our technology is scalable, ultimately allowing several square meters to be structured every second via roll to roll processing.

This is a platform technology that is applicable in a wide array of multi-billion dollar industries including solar energy, consumer electronics, automotive, and food packaging.

Our technical team has a spectacular track record in R&D and a distinct understanding that business development is just as important as technical development. In short, Smart Material solutions has the exclusive license to impactful IP, a strong team, and a head-start due to non-dilutive funding from the most competitive government funding agency, the NSF. Further, any investment dollars raised before August 2019 will be matched 50% by the NSF.

A National Science Foundation SBIR Phase I, IB, and II award.






Menu