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Multi-axis spin coating creates new manufacturing opportunities

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New research aims to bring multi-axis coating technology to round objects, which could disrupt a range of industries and create multi-million-dollar opportunities.

What do smartphone displays, solar cells and electronic circuit boards have in common? They all include spin coating, a technique used to create flat, rigid surfaces, in their manufacturing process.

An international team led by University of Canterbury (UC) Mechanical Engineering Professor Mathieu Sellier is working on extending the applicability of spin coating to deliver a low-cost, effective and reliable way to coat objects with rounded surfaces. This new technology has the capability to revolutionise the way certain products are designed and manufactured. For example, it opens the door for the creation of curved solar cells.

"Currently, spin coating is only effective on flat surfaces as it leads to an uneven film thickness on curved ones," Professor Sellier says.

"Spin coating is the cornerstone of many industrial processes, and therefore, the ability to adapt it to curved surfaces could disrupt a range of technologies in fields such as optics, micro-technologies and medical implants. It could also open up a litany of commercialisation opportunities."

The team, including UC Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Shayne Gooch, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Bimolecular Interaction Centre Dr Volker Nock and Ecole Polytechnique (Paris, France) Assistant Professor Edouard Boujo, won a $20,000 grant from Jumpstart 2018 to validate and develop their idea further.

Surprisingly, Professor Sellier’s idea was not sparked in the lab, but in the kitchen, while making pancakes.

Professor Sellier and Professor Boujo have recently shown that there exists optimal controls for the pan to obtain the " perfect pancake".

"This is a good example of why curiosity-driven research should be encouraged, because it can lead to unforeseen ideas and applications," Professor Sellier says.

Professor Sellier and his team are now working to uncover the tangible evidence required to attract the attention of potential end-users and investors.

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