NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.: On August 29, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) handed victory to North Carolina State University (“NC State”) and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (“UNC-CH”), reversing the rejection of all claims appealed.
The patent application, entitled, “Solar Water Splitting in a Molecular Photoelectrochemical Cell,” is expected to issue as a U.S. patent following the PTAB’s decision.
The technology, developed in collaboration by NC State and UNC-CH scientists, relates to a light-harvesting chromophore coupled to a molecular catalyst, which are anchored to a particle having a transparent, conductive core and a titanium dioxide shell.
The chromophore absorbs light and causes the catalyst to drive important and useful chemistry such as the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The core-shell particle stabilizes the reactive state of the catalyst by harvesting an electron.
The solar-powered reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide to a carbon-based fuel also appears in the patent application. The technology is available for licensing.
“A panel composed of three administrative patent judges considered the patent examiner’s rejection, based in part on our own scientists’ earlier work, and reached the conclusion that we claim a patentable improvement over what has come before,” explained Dr. Jeremy M. Stipkala, Thrive IP®’s lead patent attorney on the appeal.
“Among other points of novelty, the panel focused on our claimed titanium dioxide shells that are not more than about 5 nm thick. Our scientists made shells that are thinner and perform dramatically better than the alleged prior art.”