nCoat, Inc. ("nCoat" or the "Company") provided information concerning the focus of development of their nanotechnology products, processes and chemistries. nCoat develops, manufactures and distributes both nano-scale and micron-scale high performance coatings designed to protect materials against heat, corrosion, abrasion and friction.
nCoat holds a wholly owned subsidiary company called nTech, Inc. which holds all intellectual property for all other nCoat operating entities and is responsible for all new product and technology innovations. "nTech is fortunate to have a superb inside development team and the brain power of outside science advisors to guide our efforts," said Richard Maile, Senior Vice President of nTech. "The Technology Advisory Board we have assembled provides sound science advice. In addition, we rely on their professional experience to identify real world solutions to industries' challenges."
To solve problems associated with surface binding and coating durability, nTech pursues three basic approaches:
- Improve the physical/chemical properties of the solution phase binder matrix;
- Improve the physical/chemical properties of any solid fillers that may be desired;
- Improve the receptivity of the receiving surface immediately prior to coating application.
A key competitive advantage for nTech and other nCoat operating companies is the ability to overcome inherent challenges of working at the nano-scale. For example, when using nano-scale solids, the natural clumping behavior of small particulates can be difficult to overcome. This can result in un-even disbursement of the coating formulation and therefore inconsistent performance across the substrate after curing. Development continues to improve the chemical construct to evenly disperse nano-coatings.
"Academia and Industry have devoted enormous resources to commercialize all sorts of curious and explicit Nano-Phenomena. This is very difficult because one must find practical ways to adapt behaviors usually observed in seemingly alien and artificial settings," said Dr. Thomas Buckley III, a member of nCoat's Science and Nanotechnology Advisory Board and Board of Directors. "In contrast, nCoat explores methods to enhance the performance of their already remarkable coating systems by integrating Nano-Scale elements into their formulations. Empirical by nature, nCoat's approach to Nano-Technology remains fundamentally grounded in practical commercial applications using Nano-Scale materials and procedures to manufacture exceptional coating systems." Dr. Buckley is the inventor of record of over 45 U.S. and International patents and received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of California (Berkeley).
Making alterations in solids content and morphology often requires a significant reformulation of the core-binding matrix itself. Nano-based coating formulations require both a new perspective and a deeper understanding of the binding and bonding principles known today but perhaps minimally developed till now. Whereas chemical bond lengths roughly range between 1-2.5 angstroms between atomic nuclei, binding forces are relatively weaker and manifest over greater distances. nTech research is not limited only to potential nanoscale interactions from a quantum mechanical perspective, which would unnecessarily limit the investigations to the realm of potential binding interactions between particles in the 0.5-3 nanometer range. Instead, nCoat through nTech's work seeks to observe and exploit the larger spectrum of nanoscale binding interactions.
nTech's focus is multi-dimensional. However, one of the key factors influencing bulk-binding efficiency can be particle size. Smaller individual particles present a disproportionately greater potential bulk surface-active area relative to their bulk solid density. Reformulating a coating matrix laden with solids having an average particle size of 10 um to 10 nm represents a one million-fold increase in available particle surface area. Thus, any existing potential for particle-to-particle binding or bonding opportunities will be proportionally enhanced. Smaller particles, under the right conditions, create potentially denser and more uniform coating coverage, providing greater opportunity and efficiency to fill surface disparities, which can often lead to bulk coating failures over time. nTech is engineering new opportunities wherein the right particles are able to contribute more benefit to a post-cure coating's overall performance and stability than mere bulk density considerations would otherwise predict.
Currently, particulates blended in coating binders typically range from 5 to 50 microns in size. Within the last 3 years, the problem of grinding solids to preferred nano-meter scale particle ranges has found solutions. Current techniques to produce nano-sized particles from many useful coating solids remain somewhat inexact. However, with the use of specially engineered air mills and new high throughput sizing technologies, particles can be ground to desired nanometer particle ranges from 30nm to 200nm. New technologies scheduled for use later in 2007 will assure much more precise size tolerances which will give rise to more exact specification for coatings products and greater expectations in their performance. nTech is participating in the commercialization of new particulate sizing technologies which will benefit the company's core products.
"While most current R&D in nanotechnology is ethereal and experimental, nTech is squarely focused on immediate solutions that can be commercialized today," Mr. Maile said. "Using what we now know, nTech is positioned to be far ahead of the competition in formulating coatings and binding solutions for multiple industries."