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Northern Gritstone backs spinout developing material that gets thicker when stretched

Northern Gritstone LC AuxeTec
Image credit: LC AuxeTec

LC AuxeTec has secured a seed investment from Northern Gritstone for a material described as similar to the Achilles tendon and cat skin.

The University of Leeds spinout has developed an auxetic material made from liquid crystal elastomers that gets thicker rather than thinner when stretched. The startup’s material possesses a unique characteristic that enables it to absorb shock and enhance durability, making it suitable for use in electronic screens.

Professor Helen Gleeson and her team accidentally discovered the material while researching liquid crystal elastomers at the University of Leeds. According to the spinout company, no other material that has been discovered is auxetic at the molecular level.

“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,” said Gleeson, who founded LC AuxeTec.

LC AuxeTec's material
LC AuxeTec’s material

LC AuxeTec has exclusive licencing of the material’s patent.

Northern Gritstone is an investment firm set up by universities in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield to support spinouts in the North of England. It recently secured £30m from British Patient Capital.

Northern Gritstone contributes to LC AuxeTec’s wider seed round, where it hopes to raise £2m. The spinout will use the capital to establish a team and test the material in commercial applications, including wind turbine polymers and automotive glass.

The spinout will be led by CEO Robert Gunn and move to its own offices at the University of Leeds’ Nexus building.

Gleeson added: “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.”

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