Touchscreens repelling fingerprints, bandages inhibiting infection, home windows cleaning themselves, solar panels converting more sunlight to electricity — Zachary Holman is making ordinary surfaces extraordinary using nanoparticles.
Nanoparticles are microscopic pieces of material that are 1 to 100 nanometers in size (a sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick). They can be applied to a variety of surfaces, allowing everyday objects to take on new properties, such as dirt-repelling and antibacterial behaviors. However, to take advantage of those properties, manufacturers need a way to attach the nanoparticles to those objects.
Holman, an Arizona State University assistant professor, has invented a tool that can spray a coating of nanoparticles onto glass and other surfaces. Holman received a Moore Inventor Fellowship for the invention’s potential. He is one of five recipients of the three-year, $825,000 fellowship from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which will support the continued research and entrepreneurship Holman started a decade ago.