With $300 Million In New Funding, Zymergen Aims To Sustainably Transform The $3 Trillion Chemical And Materials Industry

By making better, greener alternatives to petrochemistry, Zymergen sees a huge economic and environmental opportunity

As the smoke from a dozen wildfires darkened San Francisco, Josh Hoffman took his two children outside to see the surreal morning sky. It looked like a dystopian scene from Blade Runner 2049.

“My kids were scared because the sun never rose, and when it did it looked like a dying planet,” says the CEO of Zymergen, a biomanufacturing company. In the apocalyptic skies, Hoffman saw the end of times that so many warn about if we don’t get a handle on climate

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Materials Science and Engineering undergraduates earn prestigious scholarships

Zachary Wolff has always been interested in the STEM fields. In fact, in high school in his hometown of Las Vegas, Wolff spent four years studying biotechnology, an academic course that would indirectly lead him to his ultimate career choice.

“At the end of that, I found that I liked the technology part more than the bio part,” he explained.

With that self-realization, Wolff came to the University and dove into his studies in engineering.

“It was really a stroke of luck that I found material sciences and engineering,” he said. “I wanted to pick something interesting and challenging, and I loved it. I haven’t regretted it any semester so far.”

With single-minded focus, Wolff threw himself into his studies, combining a dedication in the classroom and laboratory with a drive to gain real-world experience through internships at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). For the NNSS, Wolff has performed

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Physicists and chemists engineer optical fibers with 2D materials — ScienceDaily

At the latest since the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for research on graphene in 2010, 2D materials — nanosheets with atomic thickness — have been a hot topic in science.

This significant interest is due to their outstanding properties, which have enormous potential for a wide variety of applications. For instance, combined with optical fibres, 2D materials can enable novel applications in the areas of sensors, non-linear optics, and quantum technologies. However, combining these two components has so far been very laborious. Typically, the atomically thin layers had to be produced separately before being transferred by hand onto the optical fibre. Together with Australian colleagues, Jena researchers have now succeeded for the first time in growing 2D materials directly on optical fibres. This approach significantly facilitates manufacturing of such hybrids. The results of the study were reported recently in the journal on materials science Advanced Materials.

Growth

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Experiments with twisted 2D materials catch electrons behaving collectively — ScienceDaily

Scientists can have ambitious goals: curing disease, exploring distant worlds, clean-energy revolutions. In physics and materials research, some of these ambitious goals are to make ordinary-sounding objects with extraordinary properties: wires that can transport power without any energy loss, or quantum computers that can perform complex calculations that today’s computers cannot achieve. And the emerging workbenches for the experiments that gradually move us toward these goals are 2D materials — sheets of material that are a single layer of atoms thick.

In a paper published Sept. 14 in the journal Nature Physics, a team led by the University of Washington reports that carefully constructed stacks of graphene — a 2D form of carbon — can exhibit highly correlated electron properties. The team also found evidence that this type of collective behavior likely relates to the emergence of exotic magnetic states.

“We’ve created an experimental setup that allows us to

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Team of materials researchers explores new domains of the compositionally complex metals — ScienceDaily

The most significant advances in human civilization are marked by the progression of the materials that humans use. The Stone Age gave way to the Bronze Age, which in turn gave way to the Iron Age. New materials disrupt the technologies of the time, improving life and the human condition.

Modern technologies can likewise be directly traced to innovations in the materials used to make them, as exemplified by the use of silicon in computer chips and state-of-the-art steels that underpin infrastructure. For centuries, however, materials and alloy design have relied on the use of a base, or principal, element, to which small fractions of other elements are added. Take steel, for instance, in which tiny amounts of carbon added to the principal element iron (Fe), lead to improved properties. When small amounts of other elements are added, the steel can be tailored for, say, enhanced corrosion resistance or improved

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Tunable free-electron X-ray radiation from van der Waals materials — ScienceDaily

Researchers at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology have developed precise radiation sources that may replace the expensive and cumbersome facilities currently used for such tasks. The suggested apparatus produces controlled radiation with a narrow spectrum that can be tuned with high resolution, at a relatively low energy investment. The findings are likely to lead to breakthroughs in a variety of fields, including the analysis of chemicals and biological materials, medical imaging, X-ray equipment for security screening, and other uses of accurate X-ray sources.

Published in the journal Nature Photonics, the study was led by Professor Ido Kaminer and his master’s student Michael Shentcis as part of a collaboration with several research institutes at the Technion: the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering, the Solid State Institute, the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI), and the Helen Diller Center for Quantum Science, Matter and Engineering.

The researchers’

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Machine learning homes in on catalyst interactions to accelerate materials development — ScienceDaily

A machine learning technique rapidly rediscovered rules governing catalysts that took humans years of difficult calculations to reveal — and even explained a deviation. The University of Michigan team that developed the technique believes other researchers will be able to use it to make faster progress in designing materials for a variety of purposes.

“This opens a new door, not just in understanding catalysis, but also potentially for extracting knowledge about superconductors, enzymes, thermoelectrics, and photovoltaics,” said Bryan Goldsmith, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, who co-led the work with Suljo Linic, a professor of chemical engineering.

The key to all of these materials is how their electrons behave. Researchers would like to use machine learning techniques to develop recipes for the material properties that they want. For superconductors, the electrons must move without resistance through the material. Enzymes and catalysts need to broker exchanges of electrons, enabling new medicines

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Transform Materials Signs Technology License Agreement with DSM Nutritional Products

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Transform Materials, a sustainable chemical company that uses microwave plasma technology to convert natural gas into acetylene and hydrogen, has signed a global licensing agreement with DSM Nutritional Products Ltd. Under this agreement, DSM will use the patented Transform technology to produce certain vitamins, carotenoids, and nutritional ingredients, with Transform providing technical support to ensure success of the integration.

Transform has developed a highly selective, cost-effective, net-carbon-negative process that converts the methane in natural gas into high-value products suitable for direct use or downstream reactions.

“We transform methane into acetylene and hydrogen, critical precursors for the synthesis of high-value chemical end products, without using traditional techniques that form carbon dioxide. That means we can meet important future needs of the chemical industry without creating harmful greenhouse gases,” said David Soane Ph.D., CEO of Transform Materials. “An important benefit of our technology

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Conagra Brands Taps into Footprint’s Materials Science to Continue Progress Towards Meeting Sustainability Goals | News

CHICAGO and GILBERT, Ariz., Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Conagra Brands (NYSE: CAG) announced new products featuring bowls made from plant-based fibers for Healthy Choice Power Bowls, new Hungry-Man Double Meat Bowls and P.F. Chang’s Ramen single-serve meals. By using plant-based fibers instead of plastic, the carbon footprint of manufacturing the bowls is reduced by 50 to 70 percent1 across select product lines. The expansion will help to decrease Conagra’s carbon footprint by 34,117 metric tons, equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of driving around the planet 3,399 times or 84 million miles2. This progress aligns with Conagra’s January 2020 announcement that the company is striving to make 100 percent of its plastic packaging renewable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The plant-based fiber bowl is designed by Footprint, a sustainable materials science technology firm that designs alternative solutions to single-use plastic. Conagra initially partnered with

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Conagra Brands Taps into Footprint’s Materials Science to Continue Progress Towards Meeting Sustainability Goals

Conagra expands use of bowls made from plant-based fibers through collaborative partnerships

CHICAGO and GILBERT, Ariz., Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Conagra Brands (NYSE: CAG) announced new products featuring bowls made from plant-based fibers for Healthy Choice Power Bowls, new Hungry-Man Double Meat Bowls and P.F. Chang’s Ramen single-serve meals. By using plant-based fibers instead of plastic, the carbon footprint of manufacturing the bowls is reduced by 50 to 70 percent1 across select product lines. The expansion will help to decrease Conagra’s carbon footprint by 34,117 metric tons, equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of driving around the planet 3,399 times or 84 million miles2. This progress aligns with Conagra’s January 2020 announcement that the company is striving to make 100 percent of its plastic packaging renewable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Conagra Brands, Inc., headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America's leading branded food companies. (PRNewsfoto/Conagra Brands)
Conagra Brands, Inc., headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America’s leading branded
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