This Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) project from SUNY at Stony Brook a.k.a. Stony Brook University, brings together a small business-academia innovation team to capitalize on emergent opportunities in thermal spray (TS) deposition of functional oxides for applications in high temperature sensing and electrical energy conversion systems. It has long been appreciated that successful development of functional oxide deposition via TS (a platform technology) would provide an enabling new capability for a high rate, economical approach to large area deposition of components in fuel cells, batteries, and a range of thick film sensors. Many of these inventions have been contemplated for several decades but have not been translated into innovative applications, largely due to the complexity in materials science of TS systems as well as to limitations in process science and control. Over the last decade, much has changed in both knowledge and technology which has resulted in a reconsideration of the capability for functional materials systems. However, in order to push the capability of TS to play an active role in thick film manufacturing, new process science ideologies aimed at improving functional properties and enhancing reliability must be implemented. Furthermore, scientific endeavors in academia must be leveraged with entrepreneurial pursuits in small businesses to demonstrate the viability of TS to meet rigorous requirements in sensor and energy systems. The intellectual merit stems from the ability to introduce academically derived, sophisticated scientific concepts such as advanced diagnostics and process maps into industrial manufacturing practice. Successful development of the proposed technologies through the PFI will not only have immediate impact among the small business innovation partners, but also will provide a framework for consideration of TS expansion into the arena of functional materials.
The broader impacts of this research are numerous. Successful consideration of TS in sensors and energy systems will open the door to wide ranging opportunities including thick film devices, mesoscale electronics, and photocatalytic surfaces. It has the potential to bring down manufacturing costs and provide scaling for fuel cells and batteries enabling their wide spread utilization. It will also distill confidence in TS technology and enhance capabilities of small business service providers for both traditional and novel applications. Effective interactions among graduate, undergraduate students, and industrial innovators can influence and inspire a spirit of innovation in a generation of both engineering and business students.
Partners at the inception of this project includere the Knowledge-Enhancement Partnership (KEP) unit, consisting of the lead academic institution, Stony Brook University (Department of Materials Science and Engineering), and Boston University (Department of Mechanical Engineering); two small businesses: MesoScribe Technologies (St. James, NY) and Surface Modification Systems (Santa Fe Springs, CA); and one large business: Applied Materials (Santa Clara, CA). In addition, there are other partners. The partners include a private sector organization: Sutzer Metco (Westbury, NY);and three public sector organizations: Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM), VTT Technical Research Center of Finland (Helsinki, Finland), and the Institute of Plasma Physics (Prague, Czech Republic).