Sept. 30, 1999
Contact: Chris Curran


Cincinnati -- Two University of Cincinnati faculty members in materials science and engineering were honored Thursday, Sept. 23 in Chicago as recipients of the 1999 R&D 100 Award.

R&D Magazine sponsors the award program to recognize what it calls the "most technologically significant new products and processes of the year."

The vast majority of winners come from industrial and commercial labs, but UC researchers have consistently claimed the top prize as well.

Professor Jai Sekhar earned his second R&D 100 Award, this time in the "Thermal" category for novel heating elements of molybdenum disilicide which can be produced with 90 percent less energy than conventional methods. Sekhar has pioneered the development of a process known as micropyretic synthesis. Instead of applying heat to the material, a controlled chemical reaction produces the necessary energy.

The final product is also better. The molybdenum disilicide produced by Sekhar's method is three times more energy efficient in heating elements. The heating elements are produced and distributed by Micropyretics Heaters International Inc. of Cincinnati, a startup firm launched to take advantage of the new technology.

Professor Wim van Ooij was honored for developing OXSILAN, a nontoxic alternative for preventing corrosion in metals. Chromates are widely used to treat metals, but they are toxic and carcinogenic. OXSILAN, developed by van Ooij in conjunction with Brent International PLC in Great Britain represents a new class of chemicals (silanes) which can also be used on much wider range metals. The coating can be used on painted or unpainted surfaces. It can be sprayed, wiped, dipped, or brushed on. It can also be colored for decoration. Treatment time is less than 10 seconds.

OXSILAN is also completely safe to handle and poses no disposal difficulties. Current applications include treating auto bodies for paint adhesion and corrosion resistance, suppressing storage stain on auto and building materials, and treatment of painted and non-painted aluminum alloys used in the aerospace industry. Potential uses include coating microelectronics and treating the cords in steel-belted radial tires.

This is the second time Professor van Ooij's work with silanes has received national attention. He and a former graduate student, Vijay Subramanian, received the 1997 B.F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Award for previous research. Only three such awards are made each year.

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