Wyonics: Advancing Sustainable Innovations in Wyoming

D. Rone, J. O'Hayre, R.D. Rogers, G. Gurau, C.M. Hill, K.R. Di Bona
United States

Keywords: micromanipulation, nano, micro, biopolymers, SBIR, small business, sustainability, instrumentation, DOE


Wyonics is a women-owned small business, based in Laramie, Wyoming, focused on the development of sustainable solutions to economic and environmental challenges faced by Wyoming, the U.S., and beyond. A brief overview of Wyonics will be provided with emphasis on selected ongoing projects including the Phase II SBIR-funded development of advanced micromanipulation platforms, with applications including nuclear forensics, microelectronics, and nanomedicine; as well as the development of advanced biodegradable materials using biopolymers recovered from waste biomass to deploy in rural healthcare settings. Micromanipulation and Analyses Platforms. As microanalytical techniques advance and modern technologies continue to miniaturize, there exists a growing need for particle manipulation instrumentation with greater resolution and specific selectivity on a small (micron to nano) scale. The need for an instrumental platform which can spatially resolve micron-sized particles is apparent in microanalytical fields which require the identification of micron-sized particles and non-destructive relocation to enable sequential analyses via several complementary analytical platforms. Though designed primarily to support nuclear forensic applications for the Department of Energy through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a breadth of industries can benefit from the advanced platform. Specific applications include semiconductor fabrication, specialized micro- or nano-arrays for sensor applications, identification and targeting of particles of interest for analytical testing, nanomedicine, and consumer applications such as electronics manufacturing. Advanced biodegradable materials to combat emerging viruses. In an effort to address emerging viruses in rural settings across Wyoming and the U.S., the need for improved and accessible filtration materials is readily apparent. In collaboration with 525 Solutions, Inc., and the University of Wyoming, Wyonics is developing highly efficient, virucidal chitin filtration materials that block, catch, and/or kill viruses, while maintaining the beneficial properties of the natural chitin polymers (biodegradable, biocompatible). Over the past 10 years, Wyonics’ and 525’s personnel have developed patented processes to extract a unique high molecular weight chitin directly from biomass waste and utilized the unique attributes of this biopolymer to develop advanced functional materials, including the electrospinning of nanofibrous mats. The described materials are scalable and environmentally-friendly, using a combination of size (filtration), large active surface area (adhesion), and incorporation of virus-killing nanoparticles (virucidal). Beyond the initial targets of virus filtration materials, the developed materials serve as a platform for medium-to-high value applications including virucidal textiles, bandages, and filtration of additional contaminants, designed to be deployed in rural healthcare settings.