Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a superhydrophobic transparent glass (STG) thin film innovation.
The coating provides glass displays that are extremely water-repellant, durable, and fingerprint-proof for products including smart phones and tablets, solar panels, optical components, windows, and other uses. Unlike more fragile polymeric and powder-based options, the coating exhibits superior resistance to abrasion, and is thermally stable to 500 degrees Celsius. The innovation is applicable to current commercial high-volume manufacturing methods and uses nontoxic, naturally abundant, and inexpensive precursor materials.
Samsung, a Fortune 50 company and global leader in electronics and appliances, licensed ORNL’s technology in August 2016 and is actively pursuing its implementation.
ORNL Senior Commercialization Manager Eugene Cochran, Ph.D., MBA, spearheaded the complex effort that led to an exclusive licensing agreement with Samsung. He led negotiations with Samsung, drove deadlines, headed the effort to gain DOE approval, and pushed negotiations to closure.
The five-patent exclusive licensing agreement allows Samsung to use the clear STG technology to improve performance in its glass displays.
The consumer electronics giant plans to use the ORNL innovation in current and future product lines, including smart phones, tablets, and appliance displays. The agreement immediately became one of the largest technology transfers in terms of royalty revenue in ORNL’s history, and does much to help the lab meet its mission to share its innovations for the public good. The five-patent exclusive licensing agreement allows Samsung to use the clear STG technology to improve performance in its glass displays.
Consumers will benefit from more resilient smart phones, tablets, and appliances that offer more brilliant displays and are less prone to fingerprints and smudges. As testament to the technology’s potential impact, ORNL’s technology won a 2015 R&D 100 Award.
The transfer of ORNL’s STG thin film technology will also help the American economy because Samsung will provide funding for further research in the United States. The success also achieves early technology adoption on a large scale within a narrow field of use, paving the way for licensing to future partners in even larger markets. The announcement of the agreement has also generated much interest from other companies to license the innovation in other fields of use.