The deep chasm that technology companies must traverse as they
commercialize their science continues to shrink for one Oklahoma
In fact, call that chasm a decreasingly smaller fissure.
SouthWest NanoTechnologies (SWeNT) in Norman, which was founded
in 2001 from research developed at the University of Oklahoma,
continues finding success in the coatings and composites industries.
SWeNT, as a producer of carbon nanotubes, not only manufactures its
technology, but is providing it in product form that gives customers
a smoother path to begin using it.
Carbon nanotubes can be called the basic building block of
nanotechnology - nano-scale technology that is used to make many
things stronger, stiffer, lighter, smarter and more conductive.
"We've put into place large-scale production that allows for
consistent quality, affordable pricing and availability of these
materials in significant quantity," said David Arthur, chief
executive officer of SWeNT. "Then we're going above and beyond that
and making them available in product form that makes them safer and
easier to use."
SWeNT's success also is spurring it closer to one of its longtime
goals: taking the company public. Arthur said his goal is to go
public in the next few years. The company's next equity fundraiser
will begin this spring, and Arthur said he hopes it's the last such
fundraiser before going public.
SWeNT's carbon nanotubes in coatings and composites have broad
applications across a number of industries, Arthur said. SWeNT's
materials are used in printed electrodes for more energy-efficient
lighting products, more affordable solar panel products and higher-
powered, higher-energy battery products, he said. And carbon
nanotubes are used to make stronger, stiffer, lighter and smarter
polymer composite structures, including bridges, wind turbine blades
and several military and avionics applications.
But selling to those industries requires the removal of some
barriers, Arthur said. When SWeNT wasn't seeing its carbon nanotubes
get commercially adopted at the rate it wanted to see, it put its
materials in a form that customers could better use, Arthur said,
which has made a tremendous difference.
When a customer wanted to use SWeNT's materials in a coatings
application, SWeNT developed coatable, printable ink formulations
that contain carbon nanotubes. The customer can than insert that
into standard equipment platforms, Arthur said. In the composites
area, if a customer wants to use carbon nanotubes in fabrics, SWeNT
coats the nanotubes into the fabric, taking an intermediate step
toward its adoption rather than expecting customers to figure it out
by themselves. …