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Beaverton, OR, February 14, 2006 - The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded Beaverton, Ore.,-based Voxtel, Inc. a $70,000 research and development contract to develop highly efficient thermoelectric (TE) nanostructured materials that will enable far better thermal control over all electrical devices. The new materials will exhibit a greater ratio of electrical conductivity to thermal conductivity than existing materials.
Today’s thermoelectric devices offer only one-fourth the efficiency of conventional engines and refrigerators. Thus, Voxtel will pursue an approach to make highly efficient TE devices using nanotechnology-engineered materials rather than using today’s bulk semiconductor materials. Although NASA’s application is targeted for future space missions, efficient thermal control is increasingly important in commercial applications such as automotive engineering and consumer electronics. Today’s high-speed chips generate considerable heat. Placed under a semiconductor hot spot, Voxtel’s material can efficiently pump heat out of the semiconductor package. Because of its form factor, the material can be directly integrated onto the semiconductor or into the chip package, thus providing an unobtrusive solid state cooling solution with no moving parts.
At the heart of this new approach are fabricated quantum dot films that are formed from consolidated, colloidally-synthesized nanocrystal quantum dots (NQDs). Quantum dots are particles of matter about a single nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in size and made out of a variety of semiconductor materials. The small size and interface characteristics of these NDQs enable them to selectively allow electrons to flow across them, but block heat flow by lattice vibrations or phonons (i.e., a quantized mode of vibration occurring in a rigid crystal lattice).
Voxtel will refine the NQD technology with the help of technology partners from the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), the University of Oregon, and Evident Technologies (Troy, NY). Dr. Dave Johnson of the university’s department of chemistry and Materials Science Institute will provide his specific expertise to identify and understand the properties of the chosen organic and inorganic materials and to control the effective manufacture of such advanced materials technology.
“Our ongoing work with the University of Oregon, facilitated by ONAMI, has vastly expanded our capabilities to address new applications enabled by our core nanotechnology device capabilities,” said George Williams, Voxtel’s President. “Over the last several years, we have been able to leverage the expertise of material scientists and use analytical equipment otherwise unavailable to small companies. This kind of collaboration with innovative businesses, such as Voxtel, has been instrumental in ONAMI’s ability to attract financial support from both the state government ($28M investment in research capacity) and federal agencies (over $20M in awards so far this fiscal year) to support its research in all facets of nanotechnology.”
The contract is part of NASA’s Small Business Innovative Research program.
About ONAMI The Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) is focused on research and commercizing nanoscience and microtechnologies in order to create new products, companies and jobs in the Pacific Northwest. It unites the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Portland State University with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., the state of Oregon, selected researchers from the Oregon Graduate Institute and Oregon Health Sciences University; and the region’s world-leading “Silicon Forest” high technology industries.
About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and one of just 62 members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. Its Materials Science Institute and department of chemistry are uniquely equipped to study the electro-chemistry, polymer chemistry, and photo-physics of organic and inorganic materials as they are applied in optoelectronics.
About Voxtel, Inc.
Voxtel, Inc., founded in 2000 in Portland, OR, is a leading developer of sophisticated detectors and electro-optical imaging systems for a wide range of government, industrial, and scientific markets. Their product technologies include near-infrared laser radar (ladar) receivers, radiation hardened imagers for space applications, highly sensitive avalanche photodiodes (APDs) for fiber and freespace telecommunications, and nanotechnology-engineered materials for thermoelectric devices in space and consumer electronics.