NSF Awards Nearly $750,000 to WattGlass for Coating Technology

Corey Thompson, founder and chief technology officer of WattGlass LLC.
Photo by Matt Reynolds, University of Arkansas

Corey Thompson, founder and chief technology officer of WattGlass LLC.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The National Science Foundation has awarded a $746,366 grant to WattGlass LLC to further develop the University of Arkansas’ patent-pending coating technology that makes glass anti-reflective, self-cleaning and highly transparent.

The nanoparticle-based coating will increase the efficiency of solar panels and reduce their cleaning and maintenance costs, said Corey Thompson, chief technology officer for WattGlass, a Genesis Technology Incubator client at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.

“Solar panels collect dust, dirt and grime, which reduces output and increases the cost per watt,” said Thompson, who founded the start-up company while a graduate student at the U of A in 2014. “With our anti-reflective and self-cleaning coating, more light penetrates the glass to be turned into electricity by the solar cells.”

The coating’s nanostructure causes a self-cleaning effect on the glass by changing the way water reacts to its surface, Thompson said.

“When you put a drop of water on a normal piece of glass, the drop forms a bead and doesn’t generally move,” he said. “With our coating, that drop of water spreads rapidly and when it does that it picks up dirt and other contaminants from the surface and literally pushes them to the edge of the glass. A light rain that would normally create mud on the surface of the panels suddenly is able to clean off the majority of the dirt.”

The National Science Foundation Phase II grant came through the Small Business Innovation Research Program, which allows federal agencies to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening small businesses that meet federal research and development needs.

WattGlass will add two employees with the grant, Thompson said.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Corey Thompson, chief technology officer
WattGlass LLC
479-263-0966, Corey@wattglass.com

Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor
University Relations
479-575-4737, cwbranam@uark.edu

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