Bri Heron, technology marketing manager at Indiana University’s Innovation and Commercialization Office, contributed the following story.
Mike Snow, a professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, and graduate student Jerald Balta were recently awarded a $34,939 Translational Research grant from IU for their flexible neutron shielding material technology.
Compared to current materials used for neutron shielding, the material being developed by Snow emits very low levels of secondary radiation, and it is flexible, which allows the material to be bent into desired shapes and cut without machinery. Therefore, this material has the potential to improve the performance of neutron detectors used in homeland security, cancer therapy and space exploration.
“This Translational Research grant will enable us to make the next key steps in our work to develop neutron shielding with low radiation backgrounds,” Snow said. “This material can have scientific and technological applications in neutron scattering for materials and for radiation shielding of electronics and other sensitive devices in space.”
Snow and Balta lead the nuclear measurement component of the project, and they are collaborating with Wichita State University and Phase III Physics, a company based in Los Angeles, to help bring the product to market.
This new funding will allow the researchers to quantify the advantages of their neutron shielding material. They also plan to apply for Phase 1 and 2 Department of Energy Small Business Technology Transfer grants to help with additional neutron measurements, polymer chemistry/materials development, and neutron shielding applications. In addition, Snow plans to submit a Phase 3 Department of Energy Small Business Technology Transfer grant to help fund the commercialization step for the invention.
IU’s Translational Research Grant program helps bridge the gap between research and product development by strengthening patent applications and enhancing the commercialization potential of the innovation.