modular materials for the new millenium
polySpectra is a highly interdisciplinary research team, with expertise in all aspects of materials science, including chemistry, applied physics and mechanical engineering. The project was founded by Raymond Weitekamp, who moved to Cyclotron Road from Caltech, where he received his PhD in Chemistry, working in the labs of Bob Grubbs and Harry Atwater.
The polySpectra team has been recognized with numerous awards, including a 2016 grant from ARPA-E to improve the energy efficiency of single pane windows via paintable photonic crystals. Their chemistry was also recognized in 2013 by the Resnick Sustainability Institute and Dow Chemical, as the runner-up in Dow’s Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award. That year, Weitekamp was also selected as a finalist in the Department of Energy’s First Look West business plan competition.
Critical need: The fabrication of functional materials - those with tailored optical, mechanical, and biological properties - is expensive, energy-intensive, and creates environmentally harmful waste. There is a critical need for a straightforward approach to fabricate these materials to enable advanced components and devices for next-generation manufacturing.
Technology vision: Our vision is to print performance parts with tailored form and function in a single step. We refer to this process as functional lithography. Our technology delivers a broad spectrum of functional materials from a single chemical system, enabling sustainable manufacturing of complex parts from advanced materials that are relevant to many industries.
Current state-of-the-art: The functional diversity amongst commercially available photoresists and photopolymers is severely limited. In traditional lithography, the photoresist is thrown away after serving as a mask or mold. In 3D printing, existing photopolymers lack the performance required for manufacturing applications. We need new chemistry to enable direct patterning of functional materials.
Key innovation: Our core discovery is a method of rapidly hardening polymer resins by activating “dead” catalysts with light. These resins allow us to directly photopattern a wide variety of functional materials across many length-scales, from nano to macro.
Manufacturing challenges: Development of industrially-relevant lithographic and additive manufacturing processes, and validation of material performance and functionality.
Potential for impact: We hope this interdisciplinary innovation will unlock a new era of sustainable advanced materials. Functional lithography enables energy-efficient manufacturing of complex part geometries with tailored properties. The potential impact for sustainable, democratized manufacturing is immense.
We're looking for:
- Highly motivated team members: scientists, engineers, business
- Technical collaborators and joint development partners