Recent Successes

 

FUEL CELL CATALYSTS

As fuel cell technology works its way toward viable commercial application in automobiles, researchers at Oxazogen, Inc. are doing their best to help push the science along.

Dr. Dennis Hucul, lead scientist on the project at Oxazogen, says the early returns on the study show much promise.

"There's a need in the marketplace for improved durability in fuel cells," Hucul said. "Fuel cells that use polymer electrolyte membrane (or PEM) technology offer a source of power that is environmentally friendly, since their only emissions are heat and water. But the membranes' performance is hindered by catalyst deactivation, which limits the cells' lifetime."

The catalyst causes the oxygen and hydrogen to react in a useful way. Deactivation, Hucul said, causes two problems - the catalyst support is subject to oxidation, and the active metal component, usually platinum, sinters during use. Hucul said Oxazogen's approach may help manage both problems.

"Through a combination of new technology from the ceramics, electronics and catalyst industries, we're able to produce new support materials which are much more resistant to degradation.


LASER PROTECTION

An enemy fires a high-intensity laser beam at a military vehicle. An earthbound imbecile flashes a laser toward an approaching jetliner. A surgeon employs life-saving-yet-potentially-damaging lasers to perform a vital operation. A criminal breaks into a warehouse by first using a laser to blind the security cameras.

In today's world, the laser's destructive potential runs the gamut from expensive annoyance to devastating weapon. More than ever, effective protection from high-intensity laser light is needed. That's where FirstLine enters the picture.

FirstLine, created in the labs of Oxazogen, Inc., represents a bold step forward in the realm of focal plane Optical Power Limiters, which are used to govern the amount of laser light that is passed through a filter - be it a lens or glass. FirstLine's OPL material is coated onto the filter, allowing low-energy light to pass through normally while clamping high-energy light, rendering it safer to the target on the other side, whether it's electronic sensors or human eyes.

What makes FirstLine Unique? The OPL material developed by FirstLine features characteristics that simply are not available elsewhere. It provides color neutrality and broadband coverage, allowing protection against high-energy pulsed laser light in focal plane applications. We're able to prepare the FirstLine substance at varying percent transmittance levels, varying thicknesses and, potentially, with added dyes for specific wavelength protection; that means we can customize our material to address a host of needs and applications.


SPACE ADHESIVES

Oxazogen is taking its chemistry to a whole new level - outer space.

"Solar cells or power solar arrays in a space environment are exposed to radiation from a number of sources; this can lead to serious lifetime problems for the solar cells," says project leader Dr. Edmund Stark. "For this reason, a protective cover is needed on the solar cells. Oxazogen's novel elastomer contains a cage-like silicon oxide in the adhesive that improves that protection. It's also longer-lasting and will provide better radiation resistance; it also has the potential to replace the solar cell's cover glass, improving the arrays' packing density.

Beyond the immediate goals of this project, Stark says the research could lead to wide-ranging satellite applications, including global communications, broadcasting, weather forecasting and global positioning systems, as well as terrestrial solar applications.


SUPERHYDROPHOBICITY

This military project - eliminating the formation of ice on rotorcraft blades - is designed to emulate the lotus effect, in which the superhydrophobic properties of the lotus leaf cause water to bead up and roll off. We're developing a coating for rotor blades that copies that phenomenon. For rotorcraft, it means no ice build-up, which will save lives.


LITHIUM-AIR BATTERY

"The lithium-air battery is seen by many in the field as the ultimate battery," says Dr. Abhijit Sarkar, lead scientist on the project, "so improving it is something that could affect our very way of life." Sarkar's work focuses on developing a better membrane for this unique system because the cathode material is not stored in the battery; it is simply extracted from ambient air as needed. "Look at mobile electronics," he says. "As we continue to improve the batteries' longevity and power, it's not hard to imagine this being an enormous commercial breakthrough."


PIBO FILM

The objective: To develop a new dielectric substrate for advanced microelectronic circuit board applications using PIBO film.

Oxazogen has demonstrated metallization, made films for evaluation and prepared and tested small circuit boards. Further improvements followed and contacts with 3M, GE, and Hamilton Sundstrand resulted in requests for additional data and samples to evaluate in advanced microelectronics applications. Licensing activities for PIBO film technology have netted over $2 million for this same activity period.