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University of Houston Spins-Off Nanotech Coatings Company

Colored water droplets on SCHN coated 100% cotton blue denim. (C-Voltaics)

A physics professor at University of Houston in Texas started a company to develop and manufacture protective coatings for industrial and consumer goods based on his research in nanotechnology. C-Voltaics, started by Houston physicist Seamus Curran, was awarded last week the Young Technology Award at the Commercialization of Micro- and Nanosystems conference in The Netherlands, according to a statement by the university.

Curran’s research, conducted in the university’s Institute for NanoEnergy where he serves as director, investigates nanocomposites formed from polymers and filler materials, such as nanotubes, quantum dots, hollow carbon molecules known as buckyballs, and organic dye molecules. His work on coatings, which has led to 10 patent filings, is an extension of studies on protecting solar panels that lose efficiency when dust and pollen on the panels interfere with their ability to generate power.

The technology became known as Self-Cleaning Nano Hydrophobic or SCNH, which C-Voltaics licensed from the university. C-Voltaics is commercializing the technology for applications on fabrics, glass, plastics, wood, metals, and masonry. The coatings, says Curran, last as long as the product they protect and reduce the need for traditional protective coatings, such as whitewash on masonry and creosote on wood.

Curran expects to quickly scale up production SCNH coatings, with a target output of 400 gallons a day by the end of September. The company is also producing a transportable solar energy system called Storm Cell, invented as well by Curran from his research on protecting solar panels.

C-Voltaics is located in the university’s Energy Research Park, a research and manufacturing industrial park near the campus.  The university is also a shareholder in the company.

The following video demonstrates SCNH coatings on various fabrics.

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