Oxford spinout to use phase change materials for smart glazing and displays
The discovery by researchers at the University of Oxford that it is possible to use extremely thin, flexible, transparent layers of a new smart material to create low-energy, high-resolution displays and glazing is to be commercialised by spinout company Bodle Technologies.
Oxford Sciences Innovation, the £320m investment company established to provide capital and scaling expertise to Oxford spinouts, is the lead investor in the new company. Other investors include the University of Oxford Isis Fund II, managed by Parkwalk Advisors and the Oxford Technology and Innovations EIS Fund led by George Robinson. Dr David Fyfe, former CEO of Cambridge Display Technologies and currently Executive Chairman of Oxford PV, will join as Executive Chairman.
The invention, by a team led by Professor Harish Bhaskaran and his postdoctoral researcher Peiman Hosseini at the University’s Department of Materials, attracted attention from both industry and investors following the publication of a paper in Nature in 2014.
Professor Bhaskaran said: ‘This new approach allows us to create materials which can not only manipulate light very cleverly, but are also very cost-effective. We will be creating smart glazing which allows only certain wavelengths of light into a building, giving instant control over both the heat and light being transmitted, and over the appearance of the glass. We will also be working on other applications for these thin film materials including novel reflective displays and security markings.
‘This technology is capable of providing vivid colour displays which appear similar to paper, yet with very high resolution. It is also capable of rendering extremely high-resolution videos that can be seen in bright sunlight.’
The University’s commercialisation company Isis Innovation supported the team by filing patents, building the business plan and marketing the opportunity.
Isis Innovation managing director Linda Naylor said: ‘This is a great example of the Oxford innovation ecosystem at work, strengthened now by Oxford Sciences Innovation as a key investor in the community.’
Hosseini – also a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub member – will join Bodle as Chief Technology Officer. The technology has already received backing from Oxford’s University Challenge Seed Fund to finance the initial prototyping work and market analysis.
The research was funded by grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
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‘Nano-pixels’ promise thin, flexible high-res displays’ describing the paper ‘An optoelectronic framework enabled by low-dimensional phase change films’, published in the journal Nature on 10 July 2014 doi:10.1038/nature13487