DAINtech offers a new route to create stable formulations and composites without using polymers in solution thus offering an opportunity for manufacturing companies to avoid using unsustainable, synthetic polymers in solution. DAINtech stands for Dispersions Arrested in Nematic technology. Nematic lyotropic liquid crystalline phases occur when anisotropic (rod-shaped or disc-shaped) colloids or molecules are in solution, for example cellulose nanocrystals or anisotropic micelles (formed with surfactant mixtures). Correct design of the interaction between colloids and the nematic phase creates suspensions with excellent stability, shear-thinning characteristics and even coating performance.
DAINtech is a disruptive and innovative technology for formulation scientists that solves many challenges. It:
- has excellent stability against sedimentation
- provides a unique sensory performance - highly shear thinning, yet recovers elasticity when shear ceases.
- has a tunable yield stress
- produces smooth coatings
- provides a mechanism for selective delivery of actives to surfaces
- potentially bacteriostatic through physical, not chemical, means
- includes certain exemplars that exhibit excellent stability at high temperature
- enables formulators to avoid the use of polymer stabilisers and therefore promising to meet the EU Directive(link is external) introduced on June 5th 2019.
See https://www.ph.ed.ac.uk/daintech for more details.
Technology Readiness: A range of dispersions have been made in our laboratories up to 1kg using industrial colloids, including spheriglass 3000, spheriglass 5000, titania, calcite, cornflour and sunflower oil in lyotropic nematic phases with aqueous and non-aqueous solvents. We are keen to collaborate with industry to help them develop innovative and unique formulations. As a platform technology there is considerable scope for companies across a broad range of sectors to build further intellectual property on top of this license opportunity.
Background: The invention is related to the discovery of a stable glass phase when colloids are dispersed at a sufficiently high volume fraction in a thermotropic nematic liquid crystal phase which was published in Science(link is external) in 2011. Further research has revealed that the same behaviour can be observed for a range of particles dispersed in lyotropic nematic liquid crystal phases, including those formed by anisotropic micelles (formed with mixtures of surfactants), chromonic liquid crystals and anistotropic colloids (e.g cellulose nanocrystals and clays). Initially, it was thought that dynamic fluctuations of nematogens within a solvent, as occurs in lyotropic liquid crystals, would lead to phase separation. However, research has shown that very stable dispersions and emulsions, of particle diameters from 100nm to 50microns, can be formed when dispersing colloids in lyotropic nematic phases.
How does it work? Designed correctly, particles dispersed in a nematic phase give rise to defect lines which connect and entangle throughout the nematic phase. The defect lines carry a line tension such that the storage modulus is proportional to the number of disclination lines and viscosity is enhanced because the nematic phase becomes restricted within small monodomains. A strong gel is formed without shear, however once the gel yields, the viscosity approaches that of the background nematic phase (close to the solvent).
Current development status
inks, paints, personal care, household care, cosmetics, agrochemicals, topical medicines.
Desired business relationship
New technology applications
Adaptation of technology to other markets