Platypus Founder Nicholas Abbott Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Madison, WI – Platypus Technologies, LLC. is pleased to announce that company founder, director and scientific advisor Nicholas L. Abbott has been elected to membership of the US National Academy of Engineering. The academy cites Dr. Abbott’s innovations and applications in soft-matter surface science as the basis for the award, which is one of the most prestigious awards in engineering. Dr. Abbott is currently John T. and Magdalen L. Sobota Professor, and director, Materials Research and Engineering Center, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Dr. Abbott’s contributions to Platypus Technologies center on the development of a new class of sensors based on liquid crystals – substances that exist in a liquid state but whose molecules are oriented in a highly organized fashion rather than the random orientations of molecules found in most liquids. Among their many interesting properties, liquid crystals rotate the polarization of light waves that pass through them, and with the aid of polarizers, this property can be used to control whether or not light passes through a liquid crystal. This property is used in liquid crystal displays for TVs and computers: each pixel is a tiny volume of liquid crystal, and changes in electric fields control whether or not light passes through each pixel, thereby creating the picture on the screen. Platypus has adapted this concept by controlling liquid crystals using surface chemistry rather than electronics, enabling detection of substances ranging from toxic gases to virus particles via surface chemical interactions. The company’s first liquid crystal sensor, the ClearSense™ dosimeter, was recently released to aid in monitoring hydrogen sulfide gas in oil and gas production and refining industries.

According to Tim Burland, retired Chief Operating Officer of Platypus, “The science behind liquid crystal sensors is really challenging. The company licenses a broad portfolio of Dr. Abbott’s patents that reduce multiple key liquid crystal sensing inventions to practice. Nevertheless, without the strong and deep scientific support we receive from Dr. Abbott, it would be impossible to bring liquid crystal sensor technology to market.”

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