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Case Study

Tiny Particles with Big Potential

Partnership research reveals new application for silica microspheres

Materium Innovations is a Quebec-based company specializing in additives. The company’s main product is composed of minuscule silica microspheres – particles so small they are invisible to the naked eye. These versatile particles make it possible for the additive to be used in a wide variety of products such as shoe soles, car tires, heat-resistant plastics, insulating materials and high power lasers.

Working with Centre national en électrochimie et en technologies environnementales (CNETE) at Collège Shawinigan and Université de Sherbrooke, Materium Innovations’ product can now be applied in new ways such as for air filtration and water treatment. By altering the microspheres’ surface properties, molecules can be grafted onto silica-graphene particles so microorganisms adhere to them.

Materium Innovations also worked with researchers to optimize the functionalization procedure at a lower cost, and this led the company to file a provisional patent. Thanks to the grant provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Materium Innovations is more competitive in expanding the reach of its product by branching out to new market segments.

According to Mathilde Gosselin, CEO of Materium Innovations, “NSERC projects – whether ARD level 1 [Applied Research and Development] or Engage grants – are opportunities for collaboration that allow businesses to quickly see if the synergy with researchers can work, without investing vast amounts of time or money, and without having to negotiate intellectual property beforehand. If results look promising, then companies can decide whether to continue on the same path.”

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