NanoPattern Receives $1 Million NSF Grant: 'A Validation of Our Vision,' Says Cofounder – Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation – Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

CEO Yu Kambe and Richard Schaller, a collaborator at Argonne National Laboratory. (Image credit: Argonne National Laboratory)
NanoPattern Technologies recently received a $999,428 grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program.
Cofounded by Dmitri Talapin, Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor in the University of Chicago Chemistry Department and Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), and Yu Kambe, PhD ’19, the company earlier this year received $150,000 in investment from the George Shultz Innovation Fund and recently launched a seed round. It also was awarded an SBIR Phase I funding from the NSF.
With this latest grant, NanoPattern will scale its patented photo-patternable quantum dot ink, which it is commercializing to enable tricolored microLED displays for the next generation of augmented reality applications.
“It is not only a great honor for the NanoPattern team to receive this grant, but it is also a validation of our vision by the National Science Foundation. The rigorous review performed by leading experts confirmed the originality and technical feasibility of our approach,” said Talapin.
Left: Patterned quantum dot sample under illumination. Right: Image of a bird pattered with red, green, and blue quantum dots and NanoPattern’s proprietary technology. (Image credit: NanoPattern Technologies)
The funding from the SBIR grant will be used to scale the ink and demonstrate device scale feasibility with an industry customer, said Kambe, who is the CEO of NanoPattern. For the consumer, NanoPattern ink will enable augmented reality headsets that are lighter, brighter, and prevent nausea caused by extended use.
“Since participating in Polsky Programming, NanoPattern has taken the learnings and funding to grow the team and execute on a go-to-market strategy,” noted Kambe. NanoPattern has participated in the Polsky Accelerator, the Polsky I-Corps program through a specialized cohort offered annually to new members of Argonne National Laboratory’s Chain Reaction Innovations program, in addition to the George Shultz Innovation Fund.
“The success of the award can be attributed to the rigorous training we received through Polsky and the Chain Reaction Innovation Programming. It truly takes a city to support a startup,” added Forrest Etheridge, PhD, a post-doctoral alumni of the PME and senior scientist at NanoPattern who has contributed heavily to the company’s success.
“NanoPattern has grown the technical team, successfully completed a feasibility study with a partner company, established an advisory board, and presented as an invited speaker at two key industry conferences with strong interest from the community,” Kambe added. “With the support from the National Science Foundation and the Polsky Center, NanoPattern will focus on taking the 5+ feasibility projects with customers to full-fledged joint development partnerships.”
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