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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Nano Spinoff Wins Development Contract

A spinoff company created from UALR nanotechnology research has won a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research contract with the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop self-cleaning nanoscale materials for railroad track inspection systems.

Poly Adaptive LLC, a company created to commercialize products developed by researchers in UALR’s Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences, will investigate the application of these nano-scale materials. These materials can eliminate dirt and mud buildup on track inspection systems that rely on cameras or lasers to determine the performance capability of a rail segment.

When the camera and laser components become coated with dirt or mud, railroad track inspection systems cannot operate at optimum levels, increasing the risk of undetected potential safety defects and related accidents.

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis has identified track defects as the second leading cause of accidents on U.S. railways. Since 1975, track defects accounted for 24,509 accidents which caused collisions, derailments, and other serious issues.

UALR’s Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center assisted Poly Adaptive with its successful proposal.

“The ASBTDC’s market research and proposal development services were instrumental in the development of this winning proposal application and provided key insights into the railroad industry,” said Robbie Linn, president of Poly Adaptive. “This SBIR contract affords us another opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy and versatility of our elecrodynamic dust shield technology utilizing emerging nanotechnology created by our scientists.”

The Small Business Innovation Research program is federally funded to support small-business research and innovation leading to state-of-the-art product development.

Other commercial applications for the dirt and dust mitigation technology include dust shield systems for solar panels, windows, automobiles, and military and defense products.

“Large-scale solar installations are usually located in sun-drenched desert areas where dry weather and winds sweep dust into the air and deposit it onto the surface of solar panels, reducing their energy-generating efficiencies,” said Charlie Buhler, Poly Adaptive’s principal investigator. “An automatic, self-cleaning system for solar panel surfaces would contribute to the economic benefits of this green source of energy. The Poly Adaptive dust mitigation technology should be a viable, cost-effective solution to this problem.”

Poly Adaptive has a license with UALR for this project’s subject technology. The firm’s co-founders include several successful Arkansas business and technology experts.

For additional information contact Robbie Linn at rlinn@poly-adaptive.com.