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National Lab Forms Exclusive License for Its Atomic Layer Deposition Tech

ALD is a valuable technique in many aspects, because it can be engineered to coat a range of materials for custom properties.

To commercialize its patented system for continuous Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), Argonne National Labs signed an exclusive license with Forge Nano to use it at its manufacturing site for ALD. Forge Nano recently expanded its coating capacity ten-fold with the opening of a new production plant. Its proprietary, high-throughput ALD coating technologies are used to create for safer, more reliable lithium-Ion batteries. 

ALD applies monolayers to material surfaces varying in intrinsic properties and textures. It can be applied to coat discrete particles in powders as well. ALD may be used to make strategic changes to materials based on the application without significantly altering its other properties. It is achieved through alternating gaseous and solid precursors that react with sites on the material. Cycle reactions are self-limiting—meaning that they continue until the precursor has reacted with or adsorbed to all the available reaction sites. Typically, each cycle is carried out until completion before the scientists begins the next cycle.

Years of development have led to ALD being used in various industries. It is becoming an increasingly practical method to improve the performance of semiconductors, especially those used in miniaturized electronics and photovoltaic cells, by offering innovative doping methods. In healthcare, it can improve the bio-compatibility of implants, or change the rate of slow-release drugs into the body. In chemical processing, it can increase the thermal stability of catalysts, leading to more stable chemical reactions that would otherwise not be possible.

Forge Nano’s ALD processes are targeted toward both solids and powders. One of its high-throughput ALD coating processes is used to coat the particles of powders that coat the electrodes of Li-ion batteries. By coating individual particles with monolayers of metal oxides, manufacturers can create electrodes with coatings that are robust to corrosion, and improve the service life, safety, and cost of their Li-ion batteries. Forge Nano also reached an exclusive license agreement with the National Renewable Energy Lab in May to commercialize the national lab's patented battery materials and systems. The NREL has over 800 technologies currently available for licensing on its Energy Innovation Portal

ALD is a large market that is expected to grow from $1.5 billion in 2016 to almost $3.7 billion in 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.1%, according to BBC Research. With continued research and development, the technology will address needs in energy, healthcare, and electronics. Other companies that offer ALD services in addition to Forge Nano include Encapsulix, Picosun, ALD Nanosolutions, and ASM.  

To see other technologies available for license by Argonne National Labs, visit its Energy Innovation Portal

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