Low-Cost Controlled-Morphology Metal-Oxides for Multifunctional Coatings

UT-Battelle, LLC, acting under its Prime Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the management and operation of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is seeking a commercialization partner for technology that produces controlled morphology metal-oxides nanoparticle thin films. The ORNL Technology Transfer Office will be accepting licensing applications through September 15, 2015.

This process involving a simple bio-based templating sacrificial component that is used to control the growth mechanism of indium tin oxide (ITO) nanoparticles with tunable particle morphology (e.g., nanowires, nano-spheres, and octahedral nanoparticles). The inventors group has demonstrated other valuable metal oxides nanoparticles such as CeO2, ZnO, MgO etc., and their doped counterparts self-assembly of metal oxide nano-islands in the process of particle formation was found to play an important role in determining the particle morphology. In contrast to the co-precipitation method, where harsh chemicals (strong acids or bases) and organic compounds are often used, a key advantage of this approach is it is that it provides a green, renewable, and scalable way to prepare metal oxide nanoparticles with controllable morphology. Moreover, given this is an aqueous deposition technology you can coat non-planar substrates and no vacuum deposition equipment is needed.

Metal oxide materials have been widely utilized in various applications including transparent electronics, smart windows, and high-density magnetic memory. The control of morphology of the metal oxide nanostructures is critical for their wide range of applications.

ITO is the dominant material for transparent conductive applications. Nevertheless, the relative scarcity of indium coupled with growing demand has led to substantial cost increases in the past five years for this material. In addition to this economic issue, indium tin oxide suffers from limited optical tunability and poor mechanical flexibility, which compromises its use in applications such as organic light-emitting diodes, displays, and organic photovoltaic devices. This technology dramatically reduces the cost of these films as well as improving the morphology of the films improving tunability and mechanical flexibility.

This technology was originally developed  using federal funds and selected for further development under the laboratory’s Technology Innovation Program (TIP). TIP supports technology development using royalties from existing technology licenses to accelerate the market readiness of high potential technologies.

License applications will be evaluated based on prospective partners’ ability and commitment to successfully commercialize the technology. If a license is executed, the ORNL researchers developing the technology will be eligible to compete for additional TIP funding to further advance the technology.

Please contact Eugene Cochran, Sr. Commercialization Manager, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 865-576-2830, cochraner@ornl.gov with any questions and to obtain a license application for this opportunity.

Intellectual Property

UTB ID 201403371, Method of Making Controlled Morphology Metal-Oxides, U.S. Patent Application Serial No.:  14/551,460 filed 11/24/2014

Technology Summaries