Easy to Apply, Tunable Structural Color: Color Without Pigments, Dyes, Metals, or PCBs

EPA Contract Number: 68HERC22C0031
Title: Easy to Apply, Tunable Structural Color: Color Without Pigments, Dyes, Metals, or PCBs
Investigators: Ryan, Matthew
Small Business: Cypris Materials, Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: December 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022
Project Amount: $99,956
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I (2022) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Toxic Chemicals


Cypris Materials is developing the next generation of color and addressing major cross-industry pain points - improving sustainability, broadening the color gamut, reducing manufacturing hassle, and simplifying formulation. All of these features are accomplished without pigments, dyes, metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, or expensive engineering processes. The key technological breakthrough comes from Cypris' ability to manufacture organic polymers that can form reflective structures through a self-assembly process that occurs at ambient conditions and on time scales that enables a biomimetic paintable/printable color platform, called structural color. This strategy eliminates the need for exogenous colorants and the associated formulation challenges that come with them - case specific stabilizing additives (like polychlorinated biphenyls), rheological modifiers, dispersants, and mechanical milling to reduce/shape particle size. Simply: Cypris' materials are built using the same polymeric binder materials already used in paints and inks today, however, Cypris' materials have the added functionality of color. Nothing new needs to be introduced into the paint or ink system, only the removal of "classic" colorants, ensuring that Cypris' solution isn't creating new un-tested or unintentional undesirable byproducts and removes all environmental costs associated with "classic" colorant technology. Cypris Materials' color platform technology can access a variety of exciting consumer market verticals. The proposed technology will find use in commercial applications where color coatings are implemented, including but not limited to: cosmetics (nail polish - $15.55B TAM), printing (global inks market - $25.83B TAM), automotive ($26.8B TAM), and generally as a drop-in colorant ($70.0B TAM). Our largest barriers to market which will be addressed in a Phase I and Phase II EPA SBIR are: 1) formulations into eco-friendly water-based or UV-curable paints/ink formulations, 2) establishing scalable green chemistry manufacturing approaches with our commercial scaling partners, 3) addressing rules and regulations with distribution partners, and 4) quantifying upstream and downstream impacts against "classic" colorant technology.