Nanomaterials and Nano-Enabled Formulations

RTI International's nanomaterials research focuses on the preparation, functionalization, characterization, and integration of nanoparticles and nanofibers into high-performance materials. Our demonstrated capabilities allow us to tailor size, shape, and morphology to achieve performance gains in target applications. We are currently focusing on generating and integrating nanomaterials into systems for applications in energy production and efficiency, optics, electronics, biomedical, and advanced materials.

Property Application
Optical Solid-state lighting
Light management (redirection, scattering, and antireflection)
Tailored surface area Photocatalysis for environmental remediation, self-cleaning
Photoanodes and photocathodes
Self-cleaning and superhydrophobic surfaces
Mechanical New structural composites (stronger, lighter)
Cementatious materials
Electrical Nano-based sensor technology
Printed electronics
Biomedical Controlled-release formulations
Novel composites for medical devices

For example, we are using quantum dots to increase the efficiency of solar cells, and we are developing large-area arrays of infrared photodetectors fabricated by inkjet printing. We are also combining quantum dots and nanofibers to create photoluminescent nanofibers that can be tailored for specific end-use applications such as white lighting. We have also developed a method for synthesizing radiolabeled carbon nanotubes and buckyballs. This type of radioactive tag enables researchers to study the fate and transport of nanoparticles in biological systems as well as in the environment.

Energy-Efficient Lighting

We are developing a new approach to energy-efficient lighting technologies based on control of the nanoscale properties of materials. Leveraging advanced polymeric nanofibers with diameters on the order of 300 nm, our scientists have created a cost-effective solution for light management across the visible spectrum.

The optical characteristics of the nanofiber base are adjusted by varying the properties of the nanofibers such as fiber diameter and morphology. In addition, we have successfully demonstrated that photoluminescent nanofibers can be fabricated by combining luminescent particles such as quantum dots and our advanced polymer nanofiber structures. Through judicious choice of the types of particles used to fabricate the photoluminescent nanofber, the full visible spectrum of light can be produced with high efficiency and excellent color-rendering properties.

To date, we have demonstrated several prototype luminaire devices with luminous efficacy exceeding 55 lumens per watt for warm white and natural white colors at color-rendering indices of 90 and above. The technology is protected by multiple patent applications. Funding for the development of this technology was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Solid-State Lighting Core Technology program.

More Information

Ginger Rothrock named Triangle Business Journal 2015 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards winner

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