0712 ctt lbnl smart window

0712 ctt lbnl smart windowDeveloped by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Heliotrope Technologies, universal smart window coating is an inexpensive nanocomposite electrochromic coating said to allow dynamic control of the amounts of heat and light entering a building’s windows. Credit: LBNL

R&D Magazine has announced the winners of its 51st annual R&D 100 Awards, which recognize the 100 most technologically significant products to enter the marketplace over the past year as selected by its panel of experts. “The R&D 100 Awards recognize excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, high-energy physics, materials science, chemistry, and biotechnology,” according to the publication’s news release.

Available here, the full winners list includes multiple materials-related innovations. Here’s a quick look at just a few.

Developed  by Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., and AKHAN Technologies Corp., Hoffman Estates, Ill., the Miraj diamond platform is a low-temperature, nanocrystalline diamond deposition technology with potential applications in telecommunications, defense, and aerospace electronics. A news release describing both technologies says Argonne’s nanonocrystalline diamond technologies coating stems from the same research, but uses ultrananocrystalline diamonds to produce hard, thin, low-friction coatings for microscopic drills used in micromanufacturing machining. 

From Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif., come both a conducting polymer binder for batteries and a universal smart window coating that provides dynamic control over heat and light.

According to a LBNL news release, the conducting polymer binder anode material is “literally a kind of flexible plastic glue that holds electrode materials together while facilitating the shuttling of electrons and positively charged lithium ions.” The material is said to boost power storage capacity by 30 percent, stretch during battery charging, and contract during discharge to give silicon anodes the ability to “breathe.”

Developed with Heliotrope Technologies Inc., Oakland, Calif., universal smart window coating is an inexpensive nanocomposite electrochromic coating said to allow dynamic control of the amounts of heat and light entering a building’s windows. It blocks near-infrared solar radiation without blocking visible light, giving building occupants natural indoor lighting while minimizing temperature increases. Windows with the coating can be switched to block both heat and light or to a fully transparent mode.

Another battery material innovation comes from Porous Power Technologies, Lafayette Colo. The company worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., to develop and commercialize Symmetrix ceramic/PVDF lithium-ion battery separators. Porous Power says the ceramic-based separators “improve temperature stability, reduce shrinkage, and increase puncture resistance…flexible, microporous battery membranes preserve high ionic conductivity with low shrinkage, even at elevated temperatures.” High ceramic loadings help prevent hard shorts from forming or spreading and reduce the likelihood of thermal runaway, the company adds.

For metalcutting applications, NanoMech, Fayetteville, Ark., was recognized for development of patented and patent-pending TuffTek wear-resistant coatings. With funding from the National Science Foundation and US Environmental Protection Agency, the company worked with the University of Arkansas Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering to develop cutting tool inserts coated with the nanomaterials.

TuffTek-coated inserts are said to have life three to 10 times longer than inserts with conventional coatings when machining hardened steels and other difficult-to-machine materials. Nanomech says its cubic boron nitride and other combinatorial coating technologies can be applied to tungsten carbide cutting tools with a variety of geometries as well as ceramic inserts.

Gas turbine engine hot section components such as compressor blades depend on coatings for increased service life and protection from corrosion and particle or fluid erosion. BlackGold nanostructured metallic-ceramic protective coatings, developed by scientists at DOE’s National Energy Technology LaboratoryMDS Coating Technologies Corp., St. Laurent, Quebec;  and Delta Airlines are OEM-certified and said to provide excellent erosion and corrosion protection for gas turbine compressor parts. The technology builds on the company’s ER-7 coating, which MDS says has operated successfully for 20 years and saved users more than $100 million per year in maintenance, repair/replacement, and fuel costs over that time.