Binghamton University researchers ready nanotechnology innovations for market

market, probably by 2008. Once they do, demand for electronic inks will surge. Although many researchers are working on electronic inks, NanoMas's nanoparticles are ideally suited to that application, Wang said.

"For performance, smaller is definitely better, but smaller also means more unstable-difficult to make as well as difficult to use." NanoMas has struck a balance between small and stable.

The researchers have also figured out how to control manufacturing costs so they can price their products attractively. "We invented an approach that is similar to making fertilizer or plastics, a large-scale wet chemistry approach, which can be scaled up," Wang said.

In C.J. Zhong's case, a $100,000 Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) feasibility study grant from the U.S Air Force to develop air quality sensors for aircraft cockpits plus an invitation to apply for a $750,000 Phase II SBIR grant to turn the prototype sensors into products, provided the spark for his company, NSC Technology.

Zhong and post-doctoral senior research associate Jin Luo, who serves as the company's CEO, founded NSC Technology in late 2005. NSC Technology takes advantage of the fact that nanomaterials react more sensitively to the presence of chemicals than the same materials at larger scale. Zhong's lab has created chips containing nanoparticles of different metals and metal oxides, each of which emits an electronic signal when it comes in contact with a specific chemical.

Most sensors on the market today are designed to detect only one chemical at a time, Zhong said. But since people may need to monitor numerous substances in the air, these sensors aren't as useful as they might be. "We believe we can design sensors that simultaneously target multiple chemicals," he said.

Zhong is collaborating with colleague Susan Lu, assistant professor of systems science and industrial engineering, to package the chips in handheld devices w

Contact: Gail Glover
Binghamton University

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