A better way photo gray

A better way to photo gray

12:03 PM, 15th July 2011
A better way to photo gray
Greg Sotzing, Professor of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Connecticut.

STORRS, US: Ever looked wistfully at those photo gray sunglasses and wished they would turn some other fun colour?

Well the technology is now here, thanks to Greg Sotzing, Professor of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a member of UConn’s Polymer Programme.

Not only have he and his colleagues perfected a method for creating quick-changing, variable colours in films and displays, such as sunglasses, they’ve made them less expensive and less wasteful to manufacture than any previous method. And aside from creating vanity glasses, the technology is in high demand from the US military.

“This is the next big thing for transition lenses,” said Sotzing.

“They’re like double pane windows with a gap between them,” explained Sotzing. He and his colleagues squirt a mixture of polymers - or as he calls it, “goop” - in between the layers, creating the lens as it hardens. The mixture of polymers creates less waste and is less expensive to produce than previous mixtures.

Also commercial retailers will be able to produce more, if manufacturing sunglasses is less expensive.

Another benefit of this material is that it changes colours, instantaneously when electricity passes through it. This process could be very useful for the military. Sotzing will begin a one-year sabbatical at the Air Force Academy in August, where he hopes to develop some of these ideas.

In November 2010, partially based on work supported by the Centre for Science and Technology Commercialization’s Prototype Fund, the UConn R&D Corp. started a company, called Alphachromics Inc, with Sotzing and colleague Michael Invernale, now a post-doctoral researcher at MIT, as founders. The university has a patent pending for this new technology, which is currently under option to the company. Alphachromics is also testing applications of these polymer systems for energy-saving windows and custom fabrics.

Sotzing and Alphachromics are currently in talks with sunglass manufacturers.

But he stresses that the best thing about this technology is the creation of business in Connecticut. Although the glasses may not be made here, because the technology will be licensed to out-of-state manufacturers, he hopes Alphachromics will continue to expand in Connecticut.

The findings were published July 7 in the Journal of Materials Chemistry. Sotzing’s collaborators on the paper are Invernale and PhD students Yujie Ding, Donna Mamangun and Amrita Kumar.

© University of Connecticut News

 

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