Voxtel Awarded DARPA Contract for Nano-to-Macro Scale Manufacturing

March 7, 2016

 Voxtel, Inc. has been awarded the first increment of a $5.9 million contract from Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) to explore manufacturing processes scalable from the nanoscale to the macroscale. The effort—funded under DARPA’s Atoms to Products (A2P) program with additional support from the Oregon Nanomaterials and Microelectronics Institute (ONAMI)—aims to revolutionize the capabilities of additive manufacturing.

Under the A2P program, and working with Oregon State University (OSU) researcher Dr. Vincent Remcho, Voxtel is using synthetic DNA to encode nanoparticles that self-assemble into complex heterogeneous structures, integrating optical, electronic, and mechanical elements.

“By harnessing the quantum properties available at the nanoscale in commercially viable products, Voxtel’s work with DARPA under the A2P program will form the backbone of tomorrow’s manufacturing technologies,” states George Williams, Voxtel’s CEO. “The technologies we are developing are the future of multi-materials additive manufacturing. They will allow products to be made, starting with basic chemicals, using low-cost, 3D printing to deliver materials that assemble themselves into functioning devices, which then assemble into complex heterogeneous systems.”

For over a decade, Voxtel has been developing low-cost nanoscale manufacturing methods. The ability to manufacture large, complex structures from simple chemical components is found throughout nature. The infinite complexity of trees, for example, comes from simple genetic codes and common chemical reactions. These codes and reactions allow molecules to self-assemble—from the atomic level—into large structures—such as leaves and branches—that fuel themselves. An analog to this ability—one that can be scaled to a commercial manufacturing environment—does not exist. While expensive subtractive semiconductor processes are used to fabricate submicron integrated circuits, and industrial tooling is used to manufacture large objects, such as cars, there is no manufacturing process that scales from the atomic level to the macro level. Additive-manufacturing approaches that have received attention over the last few years, such as 3D printing, are generally limited to single materials and do not harness the properties of materials at the micron or submicron scale.

The goal of the A2P program is to develop technologies and processes required to assemble nanometer-scale pieces—with dimensions near the size of atoms—into systems, components, or materials that are at least millimeter-scale in size.

Voxtel previously worked with DARPA on the Manufacturable Gradient Index Optics (M-GRIN) program to develop methods to manufacture inkjet-printed flat optics using nanoparticles.  These technologies are now being commercialized in the Voxtel spin-out Vadient Optics, located in Corvallis, OR.

About Voxtel, Inc.

Voxtel Inc, headquartered in Beaverton, OR, with laboratories in Corvallis and Eugene, OR, specializes in advanced 3D imaging and nanophotonics products.

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