Nanocrystals are tiny crystalline forms of materials which are so small that almost a hundred thousand of these building blocks would fit on the tip of a pin. When materials are made up using nanocrystals they become nanostructured and these nanostructured materials, or nanomaterials, exhibit powerful new properties — ultra-low thermal conductivity, enhanced energy conversion efficiency, extreme strength and hardness — which could not be attained any other way. Harnessing the immense potential of nanotechnology underlies many of the most potent new technologies of the 21st century. The main obstacle is that historically, nanomaterials are extremely difficult to make, terribly expensive and hard to produce at industrially relevant scales of tons. At ThermoAura, we set out to change the way materials are created and unlock the power of nanocrystals. We have invented and developed some of the most innovative chemistries and processes using microwaves to make nanocrystals in a clean and green fashion. We specialize in cutting-edge nanocrystal engineering and make a wide portfolio of advanced nanomaterials with an emphasis on the thermoelectrics industry.
NanoWave® is our signature platform for nanocrystal manufacture. With the NanoWave®, we aimed to accomplish the herculean task of harnessing the paradigm changing power of nanotechnology without all the difficulties, costs and complexities. Our NanoWave®; platform can make nanocrystals of exotic and advanced semiconductor materials at ton-scales with lower energy, higher efficiency and better cost-effectiveness than legacy manufacturing methods. Using NanoWave®, we make a cup of nanocrystals with the time and energy needed to make a cup of coffee!
Conventional production processes use high-temperatures to melt ores, or use large quantities of electricity for refining, and are inherently top-down approaches. Legacy manufacturing routes and even modification of existing methods, for example high-energy comminution of ingots, to make nanocrystals is complex and either extremely difficult or extremely costly. Our NanoWave®; is a bottom-up chemical paradigm where we build nanocrystals atom-by-atom using microwaves. Our powerful new platform is the key for enabling not only nanomaterials-manufacturing, but also higher performance with fewer processing steps, lower energy use, inexpensive equipment, and inexpensive commodity chemicals, presaging significant cost savings over the industry state-of-art. In fact, we actually started out by making kilograms of high-performance nanocrystals in a matter of minutes, with a household microwave oven that you can buy in any store!
Our NanoWave®; technology and manufacturing facilities are housed at our new state-of-art plant in the Capital District Region of New York. The plant has capacity for ton-scale nanomaterials production.
Advanced and exotic semiconducting materials such as pnictogen chalcogenides are at the heart of thermoelectric technology. Our NanoWave® platform produces the nanocrystalline materials as a powder — nanopowder. Our nanopowders have immense surface areas and yet are completely stable in ambient conditions and can be stored, handled and used safely without any specialized equipment — a unique and powerful feature of our NanoWave® process. This is in stark contrast to nanocrystals made by other techniques which degrade and oxidize unless segregated under inert gases and used with complex handling units. Our nanopowder has fluffy texture and fine-free-flowing characteristics and are easily applied in both advanced consolidation technologies and traditional powder metallurgical methods. We make engineered nanopowder on our NanoWave® platform in both continuous large-scale and boutique small-batch scales to meet the rapidly changing needs of our partners for advanced materials.
We combine heat and pressure to process the nanopowder made on our NanoWave® technology into densified wafers of sizes and shapes matched to our partner needs. Our wafer fabrication capacity focuses on the industry-standard bismuth telluride alloy thermoelectric materials. Bismuth telluride alloys have no known substitutes for solid-state cooling or low-temperature heat-to-electricity harvesting. Many other thermoelectric alloys are available for high-temperature use and are part of our nano-manufacturing portfolio and capabilities. The wafer products we make are nanostructured counterparts of the industry-dominant thermoelectrics which have established infrastructure and are extensively utilized. Our signature thermoelectric wafer and nanopowder products consist of our bismuth telluride alloy nanocrystals with sizes in the tens of nanometers, that yield more than twenty-five percent higher figure-of-merit performance over the current industry for near room-temperature operation. Adoption of our nanomaterials products would entail negligible investment or changes to existing industry infrastructure and the same operation and management. All our products are manufactured in-house in the Capital District Region of New York at our new plant.
Thermoelectric cells are made of unique materials sandwiched between electrodes. The cells can be used as solid-state heat-harvesters and also heat-pumps. When a thermal gradient is applied to the cell, electricity is produced. Conversely, when electricity is supplied to the cell a temperature difference is produced, cooling one side and heating the other. No moving parts, no greenhouse or ozone-killing gases and all solid-state.
The thermoelectric materials are the most critical working component of the device. The figure-of-merit of the material, called as ZT, is the most important primary determinant of thermoelectric performance; higher the ZT higher is the thermal-electrical energy conversion. High ZT advanced materials unlock countless new applications for thermoelectrics— body heat-powered electronics, energy harvesting from hot machinery, solid-state refrigerators and zonal vehicle air-conditioning. Hence, the unmet industry demand for higher ZT materials and the paucity of scalable and cost-effective options is the critical barrier for the growth of the thermoelectric market. Other significant factors notably include costs, mechanical integrity, compatibility with existing infrastructure, and ease of handling.
Our thermoelectric products have higher ZT combined with scalability and significant costs advantages when compared with the materials in current use by the industry. The power of nanotechnology fuels our high-performance nanomaterials providing higher thermoelectric performance over current-use counterparts. The dual advantages of superior performance and affordability make our thermoelectric wafer and nanopowder products key to unlocking the multi-billion dollar potential of the thermoelectrics market.