Elastomeric Opals: Follow on Fund

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

For the past 5 years our team has been developing plastic films incorporating polymer nanoparticles that when correctly processed show structural colour. Most coloured materials depend on pigments that selectively absorb particular colours, and these are frequently toxic and fade over time. Creating colours that can change on demand is currently impractical for most markets. The materials that we create produce colours based exclusively on the nanoscale spacing of transparent components, and actively change colour if stretched or swelled. The prospect is thus for a materials-based company selling suitably-tailored coloured films into a variety of markets.Our aim is thus to formulate and develop the business case for a spin-out company based on elastomeric polymer opals which use our novel manufacturable nanotechnology.

Planned Impact

Impact will emerge in a variety of effective ways: - realising a nanotechnology-based spin-off company in a new space: this funding is on the critical path to founding a spin-off company based on the current EPSRC funded research programme. - industries in a variety of sectors who will be able to innovate to capture new markets and establish greater strength in existing ones; particularly in plastics, printing and packaging, security, textiles, cosmetics and coatings industries. - demonstrating the value of funding nanoscience and the pull-through to nanotechnology innovation engendered by the EPSRC (and the University) to: 1) academics in the physical sciences 2) academics in nanoscience 3) industries in nanoscience 4) the government (Treasury) 5) the general public 6) the media 7) university students This project has already been picked up by the media (New Scientist and Economist) and realising the full potential of the science into UK innovation will be a natural story to build further across the media. This will thus impact science funders (the government), the public and particularly school-age students, university students training across the physical science disciplines, industries in the UK who could potentially benefit, and a variety of industry sectors. - demonstrating the effectiveness of funding interdisciplinary nanoscience to academic and industrial instutions - stakeholders interested in encouraging nanotechnologies will benefit, as this is a natural exemplar for the power of this interdisciplinary growing approach. The materials produced are highly visual examples of how nanotechnology can deliver novel products, and the space is a rather different one to that used in previous exemplars. It does not involved free nanoparticles, it is not a healthcare sensor, and it is not a high value expensive device. - the University of Cambridge will benefit by bringing another start-up to fruition, increasing their stable of successful activities in this space (along with CDT, Plastic Logic and others). The town of Cambridge and the surrounding region will benefit as high tech jobs will be created in this company, and the continuing message of a high-tech innovation hub will expand. Hence there are a wide range of beneficial impacts across a diverse range of stakeholders.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We developed a way to make irridescent colour changing coatings on a scale large enough for manufacturing.
Exploitation Route We are working with companies to commercialise these into making large scale coatings.
Sectors Chemicals,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Healthcare

URL http://www.np.phy.cam.ac.uk/research-themes/polymer-opals
 
Description Polymer opals was part of our exhibit on structural colour, seen by 13000 people in 6 days, including students, politicians and the media. Many subsequent articles showcased our work. Strong outreach to the public, showcasing how nanotechnology can solve problems, for instance making colour without toxic dyes, or produce new security features in banknotes. Beneficiaries: Public, Teachers, Manufacturers/Technologists Contribution Method: Showed new ways to produce colour than those traditionally used, at much lower footprint to the environment.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Creative Economy,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description 3M Minnesota
Amount £133,131 (GBP)
Funding ID RG64515 
Organisation 3M 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start  
 
Description Impact Accelaration Award EPSRC (opals)
Amount £58,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 12/2015
 
Description Collaboration with 3M 
Organisation 3M
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution 3M funded project on exploring potential of optical scattering from colloidal particles. Funded project to study scattering from films.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Signed exploitation agreement with DKI 
Organisation German Plastic Institute
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Our technology partner has signed agreements with us, so that we jointly commercialise with Cambridge Enterprise leading. Long term collaboration developed.
Start Year 2006
 
Description Colloquium talk, University of Exeter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact From NanoPhotonics to optical superconductors
.

-
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Colloquium, ICFO Barcelona 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Extruding Opals: Self-assembling Active Soft NanoPhotonics on the Kilometre Scale.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Materials movie, "The Secret Life of Materials" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact JJB in Materials movie, "The Secret Life of Materials", Mimicking Nature,
selected for Pariscience and the Goethe science film festivals receiving awards in the International Film Festival in Athens and in the Life Sciences Film festival in Prague so far...
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://youtu.be/SVGMhGualU0?list=PLmQdDYjAqXUk5jp7_xLYLFfIeH53Gl-bg&t=1
 
Description Trash Fashions exhibit at Science Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Trash Fashions, showcased new ideas for clothers based on technologies. We provided an exhibit based on our polymer opal materials.

Many schools and clothers designers asked us for sample materials to test and create new clothes with. It caught the imagination well.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description colloquium talk, University of Wales, Cardiff 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact talk: Extruding Opals: Self-assembling Active Soft NanoPhotonics
.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description invited colloquium, ETH Zurich 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience
Results and Impact invited colloquium, ETH Zurich.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description invited talk at Microsoft Research, Seattle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk on nanophotonics and nanoassembly to Microsoft.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011