SouthWest NanoTechnologies Establishes Carbon Nanotube Coatings Center

SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc. (SWeNT), a privately-held specialty materials company that manufactures high quality single-wall and specialty multi-wall carbon nanotubes for a range of products, in partnership with Chasm Technologies, Inc. (Chasm), a consulting firm specializing in nanomaterials and thin film coating + patterning, have established a carbon nanotube coatings application development center at Chasm's facility located in the Boston area.

SWeNT expanded its production capacity with a new manufacturing facility in Norman, Oklahoma late last year, increasing its single-wall carbon nanotube production capability 100-fold at one-tenth the unit cost. Its scalable, low-cost CoMoCAT® process ensures consistent high quality and the flexibility to provide customized products. To stimulate demand for its carbon nanotube materials, SWeNT is increasing emphasis on applications development, especially in the areas of coatings and composites.

Chasm and SWeNT will utilize the center to demonstrate feasibility of achieving customer specifications for carbon nanotube coating and printing applications. They can do so using a variety of thin film coating and patterning technologies, including rod coating, slot die coating, spray coating, ink jet printing, flexographic printing, screen printing and imprint lithography. Coating trials can be done at bench scale (sheets) or pilot scale (continuous lengths up to 12" wide), accommodating a wide range of substrates.

The roll-to-roll equipment is easily configurable to achieve a variety of web paths for operations such as drying, curing, rinsing, laminating, etc. Customized coating formulations can be prepared on-site. The center also includes a wide range of test equipment to characterize coated product structures.

According to Bob Praino, co-founder of Chasm, "SWeNT is an ideal partner since they offer the highest quality single-wall and small diameter multi-wall carbon nanotubes. Consistent material properties are essential to developing robust processing methods. SWeNT has manufacturing methods that are easily scalable to support the many large volume opportunities for these materials. In addition, SWeNT's willingness and ability to customize carbon nanotubes for applications can significantly reduce development cycle time."

Single-wall and small diameter multi-wall carbon nanotubes exhibit extraordinary properties when incorporated into coating formulations, and show great promise for many applications including lower cost displays, more rugged touch screens, miniaturized sensor devices, energy efficient LED lighting and cost efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) modules.

"Many commercial opportunities for SWeNT® nanotubes were being held back because it was too difficult for our customers to integrate carbon nanotubes into industrial coating and printing processes," says Dave Arthur, SWeNT CEO and Chasm co-founder. "The technical team at Chasm has in-depth experience developing coating and printing methods for various nano-particles, and a superb laboratory for process development. SWeNT's customers will be encouraged to visit the center to consult directly with the technical staff to make it much easier for them to fabricate and test prototypes utilizing carbon nanotube coatings."

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