SBIR Phase II: Lens-forming nanocomposites for high strength, clear ophthalmic lenses

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0848825
Agency Tracking Number: 0740170
Amount: $516,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: EO
Solicitation Number: NSF 07-551
Small Business Information
10100 Bluegrass Parkway, Louisville, KY, 40299
DUNS: 800433331
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Thad Druffel
 (502) 671-2020
Business Contact
 Thad Druffel
Title: PhD
Phone: (502) 671-2020
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project addresses the development of a UV curable bulk nanocomposite having enhanced optical and mechanical properties for ophthalmic lenses. The work focuses the incorporation of metal oxide nanoparticles into a transparent polymer to engineer the refractive index and mechanical properties. This requires the synthesis of stable nanoparticles approximately 20 nm or less in diameter. The nanoparticles require a surface treatment that will aid in the monomer stability and impart improved mechanical properties to the polymerized lens. The functionalized dispersion can then be incorporated into a second monomer and then polymerized into a finished ophthalmic eyeglass lens using the lens casting system currently used by several hundred Vision Dynamics LLC customers. This extends the capabilities of an independent retail dispenser to deliver quality eyeglass lenses to consumers in less than an hour. The project will further the understanding of nanocomposites which are a very unique and important material. This SBIR Phase II project is directed toward the ophthalmic eyeglass lens market which is a $7B industry in the United States. Much of the eyeglass lenses in this industry are imported from overseas and through recent consolidations the three largest producers of lenses are foreign companies. If successful this technology removes the distribution rungs between the consumer and the optician, allowing independent retailers to more efficiently deliver quality eyewear to their customers. This allows retailers to continue to compete in this difficult landscape that has been dominated by acquisitions and mergers squeezing the independents. Furthermore, UV curing has been identified as a green coating technology for its low VOC emissions and low energy consumption. Currently UV cured polymers are limited in refractive index so this technology will play out in several industries.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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