News: UA-born gecko-based adhesives company receives JumpStart venture investment

UA-born gecko-based adhesives company receives JumpStart venture investment

02/16/2012

An electron microscope image of NanoTIM™ displays the millions of highly conductive carbon nanotubes formed in the adhesive. These aligned nanotubes form a contact between an electronic unit and a heat sink in microelectronics to reduce heat buildup.


Thanks to a $250,000 investment from JumpStart Inc. of Greater Cleveland, a tiny pad modeled from the adhesive properties found in geckos' feet and developed at The University of Akron could soon be put to work cooling off iPads, smartphones, laptops and other compact electronics. JumpStart is banking on the new technology through its funding to ADAP Nanotech LCC (website), an Akron-based startup company established to develop the novel adhesive.
 
"Now we are moving toward building a manufacturing system using JumpStart's investment. This system would allow us to produce large quantities of the material at a very competitive price," says product co-inventor Dr. Sunny Sethi, a UA alumnus. Sethi adds that the funding boost differentiates the advancement of UA-developed, gecko-inspired adhesives from others, which remain in laboratory stages or at a standstill due to an absence of large-scale manufacturing systems.

From left, Dr. Ali Dhinojwala, ADAP Nanotech’s founding director and chair of UA’s department of polymer science and Maurice Morton Professor of Polymer Science, with UA alumnus Sunny Sethi, ADAP materials scientist.


"If the pilot production system works as we anticipate, that would be a major breakthrough in manufacturing technology for nanotubes," Sethi adds. 

Commercial production is next step         

In addition to helping expedite product commercialization, the funding will enable ADAP to put prototypes of the adhesive, NanoTIM™, in potential customers' hands, according to Ali Dhinojwala, ADAP’s founding director and chair of UA's Department of Polymer Science and Maurice Morton Professor of Polymer Science.
 
In their research, the UA scientists used unique carbon nanotube structures that cling like the hairs on gecko feet. In addition to their adhesion properties, the nanotubes dissipate heat, which is critical to maintaining fast operating microelectronics.
 
"Conventionally, polymer-based thermal pads are used for heat transfer, but polymers have reached their peak in performance and a new class of materials is necessary to keep up with the increasing demand for heat management by the electronics industry," says Dhinojwala.
 
Dhinojwala, a pioneer in gecko-based adhesives, says that the use of NanoTIMs™ in microelectronics will keep them running faster and longer. His research and developments appear on the University's Energy of Innovation website.
 
The JumpStart investment represents the second round of financial support for ADAP Nanotech. Last February, the Student Venture Fund at UA, a chapter of the Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund, selected ADAP to receive $25,000 in startup funds.


Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or henryd@uakron.edu.

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