STAR Cam­pus com­pany re­ceives state grant


A com­pany lo­cated on the Univer­sity of Delaware’s STAR Cam­pus has re­ceived a $50,000 grant from the state.

STF Tech­nolo­gies, founded by UD pro­fes­sor Nor­man J. Wag­ner and UD re­searcher Richard D. Dom­browski, is de­vel­op­ing ad­vanced thick­en­ing ma­te­ri­als that can change form be­tween liq­uid and solid to im­prove the pro­tec­tive abil­i­ties of NASA space­suits, mak­ing them more punc­ture­and im­pact-re­sis­tant.

Last year, STF be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing and sell­ing shear thick­en­ing flu­ids. Pre­vi­ously a ma­te­rial mostly con­fined to re­search labs, th­ese ma­te­ri­als are now be­ing used by a num­ber of dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies to cre­ate next-gen­er­a­tion pro­tec­tive ma­te­ri­als and mo­tion-con­trol de­vices.

Un­der me­chan­i­cal stress or “shear,” tiny ce­ramic par­ti­cles in the STF are driven to­gether, caus­ing the ma­te­rial to be­have as a solid. Adding this STF to a fab­ric cre­ates a nanocom­pos­ite ma­te­rial that can har­den rapidly to form a tem­po­rary pro­tec­tive shield be­fore be­com­ing flex­i­ble again.

The com­pany has pre­vi­ously de­vel­oped a punc­ture-re­sis­tant med­i­cal glove in­tended to pre­vent nee­dle-stick in­juries in med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

The state grant is in­tended to serve as a bridge be­tween two rounds of fund­ing from NASA. A state spokesman said the money is not tied to job cre­ation and can be used for most op­er­at­ing ex­penses but not for cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures.

“This tech­nol­ogy could pro­tect and save as­tro­nauts ven­tur­ing to Mars,” Dom­browski said in a state­ment. “It is grat­i­fy­ing to see the state show­ing con­fi­dence in the com­pany by help­ing us find Earth­based mar­kets for our ma­te­ri­als. We are also grate­ful for the TIP grant, which helps us to main­tain our re­search and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties be­tween rounds of NASA fund­ing.”

STF Tech­nolo­gies is lo­cated in the Delaware Tech­nol­ogy Park’s busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor on the STAR Cam­pus.

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