LC AuxeTec makes a material that thickens when stretched and Northern Gritstone gets in on the funding action

The University of Leeds spin-out is raising a £2 million Seed round to commercialise its synthetic auxetic material
LC AuxeTec makes a material that thickens when stretched and Northern Gritstone gets in on the funding action

University of Leeds spin-out LC AuxeTec is creating a material that thickens and is raising a £2 million Seed round to commercialise it. Northern Gritstone have announced they have added funds to the pot. 

LC AuxeTec, is developing auxetic materials from liquid crystal elastomers. Auxeticity – the property of a material to become thicker rather than thinner when stretched can be found in nature, for example in the Achilles tendon and also cat skin. Hope the cat was not wearing said skin when that little discovery was made. 

Developed by Professor Helen Gleeson OBE, founder of LC Auxetec, Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Leeds, this type of material is advantageous as it can absorb shock and may be useful in the likes of phone screen for those of us with butter fingers. Also it is a promising application for materials that require durability and robustness, such as glass for buildings and vehicles.

Prof Gleeson and her team will continue to make improvements to the patented auxetic materials at the University of Leeds and LC AuxeTec will have access to these developments and first rights to in-license any new IP that emerges in this area.

The material that is auxetic at the molecular level, which means that it becomes thicker rather than thinner when stretched.

“When we discovered that our materials were auxetic at the molecular level, we began to realise the opportunities that they could hold across a number of different industries as they can be stretched further than other materials already available,” says Professor Helen Gleeson. 

“As we continue to test the properties of our material and expand our understanding of what it is achievable, Northern Gritstone’s funding will enable Robert and his new team to start making these potential use cases a reality. We will continue to work closely together to share knowledge and ensure the success of LC AuxeTec going forwards,” she adds. 

Funds will help build out the LC AuxeTec team and appoint its first full-time employees, including incoming CEO Robert Gunn and Senior Engineer Matt Reynolds as it moves into the Nexus building on the University of Leeds campus.

“In pushing the boundaries of their research to develop a unique auxetic material, Helen and her team have showcased Northern universities’ ability to drive innovation and create world-leading businesses in the region,” says Duncan Johnson, CEO of Northern Gritstone. 

“This investment will help ensure LC AuxeTec’s technology reaches its full potential and maximise opportunities for commercial use. We look forward to working with Rob and the University of Leeds as they guide the company’s expansion and develop proof points that their industry partners can roll out across their products,” he adds. 

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