Design of thin-film nanocatalysts for on-chip fuel cell technology

ThunderNIL s.r.l.


ThunderNIL is a start-up company, founded in 2009, developing and commercializing tools for large area parallel nano-patterning of surfaces with unprecedented throughputs. Its proprietary technology stems from the research activities carried out at Italian National Research Council (CNR), and further developed within two European Integrated Projects. The CFO and co-founder of the company, Dr. Massimo Tormen, M.D. and Ph.D. in Physics, with a background in X-ray spectroscopy (EXAFS), since 13 years has focused his activity on nanoscience and nanofabrication, developing a broad experience in nanopatterning technologies (electron beam, focused ion beam, nanoimprint, microcontact printing, soft and deep X-ray and UV lithographies). He has pioneered novel approaches for the fabrication of three-dimensional nanostructures, in particular towards optical applications. Based on this experience in 2003 he filed a patent on a ultrafast nanoimprint lithography process that allows to reduce the time of nanopatterning a surface from the several minutes down to the millisecond scale, opening new opportunities for industrial nanotechnology-based applications. After several years of technical incubation, the TNL team won the international Business Plan Competition “NanoChallenge 2008” providing the seed fund for launching the company’s activities. The specific technology developed by TNL is based on the nanoimprint technology. However, the specific addition brought by ThunderNIL to the latter technology has allowed reducing the imprinting time from several minutes (typically 5-10 min) down to 1 millisecond, opening new opportunities for the production of large area pattern with resolution down to the nanoscale.

The TNL team has a consolidated experience and full access to a broad range of lithographic nano­technologies (EBL, FIB, XRL, UVL, nanoimprint (NIL) and soft lithography), to deposition technologies (thermal and e-gun evaporation, electroplating, sputtering) and deep etching with reactive plasmas. ThunderNIL role in the project is to establish the micro-/nano-fabrication of on-chip fuel cell device proto­types, and to investigate high-throughput cost-effective solutions for potential industrial implementation.

Dr. Massimo Tormen is leading a research group of on nanotechnology also as a member of the Italian CNR, and his activity is oriented to bridging the gap between the academic . He is author of more than 50 scientific papers in international peer-reviewed journals and four patents (of which two granted).

The project research team core will consist of the Dr. Alessandro Pozzato, Dr. Maurizio Tormen, and Dr. Massimo Tormen and one more engineer (to be hired in 2013). The main tasks of the team are the design and simulation of the micofluidic device, the optimization of the microfabrication processes for the chip, the realization of the required fluidic interface, and the demonstration of a process for the upscaling of the fabrication of micro-FC.