Jimmy Mays, a chemistry professor at UT Knoxville, has developed a substance that promises to replace conventional rubber in many products with something that is stronger, greener, and easier to recycle. Now he’s joining forces with the College of Business Administration’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to turn his new discovery into a game-changing business.
UT will receive $600,000 over two years from the National Science Foundation through its “Partnerships for Innovation” program to commercialize and optimize Mays’ newfound “superelastomers.” This is UT’s first NSF award focused on commercialization of research, and it is the Anderson Center’s first NSF award.
Superelastomers are polymers that can be repeatedly stretched without permanently deforming the shape of the material. They can be stretched further than ordinary elastomers (or rubbers). What makes superelastomers “super” is that they hold promise for improved strength, recyclability and more efficient processing of materials used in many different products. This revolutionary new concept would open up applications in many areas, such as toothbrushes, gloves, skin care, audio devices, and filtering technologies.