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Interview

Interview with Dr Boris Kobrin, CEO and founder of Rolith, Inc.
 
Rolith, Inc. is a leading company in developing advanced nanostructured coatings and devices. Dr Boris Kobrin shares his views with FuturArc about the company’s coating technology and its impact on a Greener built environment.

FA: Tell us more about your company’s coating technology, and how it is contributing to sustainable building and development?
 
BK: Rolith’s patented technology, the Rolling Mask Lithography (RML), employs parallel patterning scheme which are scaled to large areas of substrate materials such as plates, panels and rolls of flexible films. The nanofabrication method combines the advantages of Soft and Near-field Optical Lithography proven to be reliable in fabrication of nanostructures beyond the diffraction limit. The main distinction from the standard photolithography is that RML allows printing smaller features on larger substrates less expensively.
 
One of the applications RML has for the Green building industry is its usage in the manufacturing of different types of glass that help save energy. 

The size of the glass plate is 1m x 0.3m x 1.1 mm. It has a 0.5-micron polymer layer nanopatterned with 300 nm diameter nanopillar arrays. The size of individual patterned fields is 46 mm x 46mm. There are some gaps, meaning areas without patterning, between fields. Rolith is working on developing a new technology to eliminate gaps and fabricate uniform and seamless nanopattern, and also making nanopattern colourless and invisible. This will enable the use of this technology in real-world products like glass windows in buildings, automotive glass and display glass.

 
 

One of the applications RML has for the Green building industry is its usage in the manufacturing of different types of glass that help save energy. To name a few, low emissivity glass transmits almost the entire solar spectrum but prevents loss of energy absorbed and re-radiated at IR wavelengths as heat; light redirection glass windows redirect daylight to the ceiling and replaces artificial lighting during the day; transparent conductive electrodes are used in electrochromic “smart” windows, and solar-PVs; and “self-cleaning” glass keeps windows free from contamination, reducing the need for manual cleaning labour while enhancing illumination during the day.

FA: As one of the top three nanotechnologists in the world, how do you think coatings and devices have changed over the years, in terms of the advancement of these products?
 
BK: The recent advances in nanomaterial and nanolithography will soon push this industry forward with improvements to its products. For example, nanoparticles-based coatings and sol-gel materials can already be found in some glass products. The new nanolithography technology is poised to change the landscape of glass industry products in architecture, consumer electronics, automotive products, solar energy and other industries.FA: How will this new technology change the way surfaces are manufactured in the future? 
 
BK: Structuring of the surfaces using low-cost large-area nanolithography has a potential to be a game-changer. So far, the only way someone could change surfaces of products is through mechanical or chemical texturing. Such texturing is inherently random in terms of texture features, sizes, shapes, etc. thus it might not be engineered to yield optimum results. In contrast, nanostructuring by lithography yields nanostructured surfaces with precise feature dimensions, shapes and positioning.
 
FA: How will nanotechnology help shape the future of architecture and construction?
 
BK: Architecture and construction industries have hardly been touched by any consumer electronics revolutions so far; materials and methods used in electronics industry are limited by very specific substrates materials, such as those used in semiconductors. Recent advances of nanotechnology and engineering have introduced new materials based on nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, hybrid materials, and new methods. For example, self-assembly and rolling mask lithography can now be incorporated in the making of windows, roofs, interior and exterior walls, kitchen and patios. And this is just the beginning.

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