Issue 51: Latest nanotech business, research and product news. February-March 2018


Mattershift, an NYC-based startup with alumni from MIT and Yale has achieved a breakthrough in making carbon nanotube (CNT) membranes at large scale. The startup is developing the technology’s ability to combine and separate individual molecules to make gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from CO2 removed from the air.
Tests confirming that Mattershift’s large-scale CNT membranes match the characteristics and performance of small prototype CNT membranes previously reported on in the scientific literature were published in Science Advances. The paper was the result of a collaboration between Mattershift and researchers in the labs of Dr. Benny Freeman at The University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Jeffrey McCutcheon at the University of Connecticut.
“Achieving large scale production of carbon nanotube membranes is a breakthrough in the membrane field,” said Dr. Freeman, Professor of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin. “It’s a huge challenge to take novel materials like these and produce them at a commercial level, so we’re really excited to see what Mattershift has done here. There’s such a large, unexplored potential for carbon nanotubes in molecular separations, and this technology is just scratching the surface of what’s possible.”
The company has already booked its first sales and will ship products later this year for use in a seawater desalination process that uses the least amount of energy ever demonstrated at pilot scale.

Toho Tenax Co. Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, has developed a new high-tensile, highly shock-resistant prepreg that incorporates carbon fiber developed by Toho Tenax for aerospace applications and specialized carbon nanotubes (CNT). A prepreg is a carbon fiber sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin and used as an intermediate material for carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP).
The surface of the CNT is specially treated and its structural elements disperse equally when Toho Tenax’s carbon fiber is impregnated with matrix resin containing the CNT. The hybrid combination of carbon fiber and CNT realizes a superior CFRP that offers improved tensile strength and shock resistance. The CFRP also is extra durable because the carbon fiber and matrix resin do not peel away from each other thanks to the CNT’s balanced dispersion.
The Teijin Group is accelerating its development of its new high-tensile, highly shock-resistant prepreg for high-end applications in the sports, leisure and aircraft fields, where weight reduction and high functionality are especially critical. Since CFRP is used in fields ranging from aircraft and automobiles to infrastructure and leisure, its prescribed properties must differ widely depending on the application. To address these specific demands, Teijin is developing technology for various combinations of carbon fiber and matrix resin and for specific processing needs.
Carbon fiber sheet and matrix resin, however, tend to peel away from each other when molded CFRP products are subjected to strong impact, leading to decreased strength and tension. Technologies have been pursued to better integrate carbon fiber and CNT, but until now the cohesiveness of CNT elements had prevented them from dispersing equally in the matrix resin, resulting in prepregs of unstable quality.

Driven by the water crises in southern California and South Africa, Canadian start-up Awn Nanotech is utilizing carbon nanotubes in a mesh for water harvesting. Founder Richard Boudreault said “It’s extremely simple technology, so it’s extremely durable.”

A sensor technology that can determine the real-time tread wear of tires on the road has been licensed from Duke University by a Tyrata, Inc. a startup company backed by a leader in parts distribution. The inexpensive printed sensor incorporating carbon nanotubes is capable of monitoring the tread of car tires in real time and warns drivers when the rubber meeting the road becomes dangerously thin.
Tyrata, Inc. has closed of $4.5 million in series A financing from several investors. The funding will allow the startup to develop the sensor technology into a product and prepare for large-scale manufacturing. The Tyrata tread wear sensor can be linked to data analytics systems to improve safety in consumer vehicles, reduce maintenance costs in large fleet-management operations and provide critical data for autonomous vehicles.

Ranovus, a start-up providing multi-terabit interconnects, has launched its 200G On-Board Optics and CFP2 optical transceiver solutions for 5G mobility and data centre interconnect (DCI) applications. These are based on the company’s multi-wavelength Quantum Dot Laser (QDL), ring resonator based silicon photonic (SiP) modulators, driver ICs as well as receiver building blocks.
The Quantum Dot Multi-Wavelength Laser (QD MWL) is a semiconductor laser that uses self-assembled quantum dots to generate multiple wavelengths simultaneously from a single device.
A single QD MWL device can provide up to 96 wavelengths in the C-band alone, allowing for the replacement of 96 individual lasers in an equivalent system.

Unitika Ltd. has recently launched its Nanocon polyamide 6 dyed-resin in the European automotive industry, Nanocomposite polyamide 6 “NANOCON” is a reinforced material based on the polyamide 6 with numerous ultra-fine inorganic fillers. Applications are in automotive parts, such as door handles, with improved strength and rigidity and chemical resistance.