A company located on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus has received a $50,000 grant from the state.
STF Technologies, founded by UD professor Norman J. Wagner and UD researcher Richard D. Dombrowski, is developing advanced thickening materials that can change form between liquid and solid to improve the protective abilities of NASA spacesuits, making them more puncture- and impact-resistant.
Last year, STF began manufacturing and selling shear thickening fluids. Previously a material mostly confined to research labs, these materials are now being used by a number of different companies to create next-generation protective materials and motion-control devices.
Under mechanical stress or “shear,” tiny ceramic particles in the STF are driven together, causing the material to behave as a solid. Adding this STF to a fabric creates a nanocomposite material that can harden rapidly to form a temporary protective shield before becoming flexible again.
The company has previously developed a puncture-resistant medical glove intended to prevent needle-stick injuries in medical professionals.
The state grant is intended to serve as a bridge between two rounds of funding from NASA. A state spokesman said the money is not tied to job creation and can be used for most operating expenses but not for capital expenditures.
“This technology could protect and save astronauts venturing to Mars,” Dombrowski said in a statement. “It is gratifying to see the state showing confidence in the company by helping us find Earth-based markets for our materials. We are also grateful for the TIP grant, which helps us to maintain our research and product development activities between rounds of NASA funding.”
STF Technologies is located in the Delaware Technology Park’s business incubator on the STAR Campus.