Our story began in the late 80s at the University of California-Irvine. Dr. Joe Lichtenhan, then an aspiring graduate student, encountered some old research on molecular cages that could combine silicon and carbon compounds. Chemists had inadvertently been making these compounds for well over a century. Another corporation had experimented with their potential on plastics in the 60s and 70s but could not overcome challenges when attempting to mass produce them.
Lichtenhan decided to further explore this family of molecular cages. He won a contract in the early 90s to study their potential use in making aerospace plastics lighter, stronger and more resistant to heat. And there at Edwards Air Force Base in Palmdale, California, Polyhedral Oligomeric Silsesquioxane, or POSS® as it’s now known, was born. For three years, Lichtenhan tried to persuade chemical companies to advance the technology. With no real takers, he decided to make his own opportunity. With a few investors, Joe Lichtenhan and Joe Schwab spun POSS® technology out of the Air Force Research Laboratory and founded Hybrid Plastics®.
After several years of crafting a small but workable R&D facility, Hybrid Plastics® began the process of converting to a true manufacturing company. In 2004, the company left the sunny but crowded beaches – as well as the talented but crowded nanotechnology landscape that is Southern California – and relocated to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While the technology establishment scoffed at the move, Joe Lichtenhan once again saw opportunity. Not only was the business, tax and regulatory environment more appealing in South Mississippi, Hybrid Plastics® would now have direct access to one of the best polymer schools in the United States- the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, also located in Hattiesburg. It now sits on a 15-acre manufacturing site in the south part of the city.
Today, Hybrid Plastics® is one of the top 10 nanotechnology companies in the United States. Its offerings now include both solid, semi-solid and liquid forms of POSS®. It has a dedicated staff of scientists and engineers have received awards naming their customer service as unparalleled in the global high performance fillers market. Hybrid Plastics® is unique among nanotech companies because it actually manufactures its nano-products on a multi-ton scale at its 35,000 sq. ft. facility and supports their use and adoption. The Company sells worldwide with 40% of its sales overseas.
Nanotechnology holds the promise of being the science of the 21st Century. Indeed, the National Science and Technology Council has stated “Nanotechnology could impact the production of virtually every human-made object…” POSS® nanoscopic chemicals provide unique opportunities to create revolutionary material combinations through a melding of the desirable properties of ceramics and polymers at the 1 nm length scale. These new combinations enable the circumvention of classic material performance trade-offs by exploiting the synergy and properties that only occur between materials at the nanoscale. They release no VOCs and, thereby, produce no odor or air pollution, while offering easy incorporation into existing manufacturing protocols. While the POSS® cage is nanoscopic, POSS® is a chemical and therefore lends itself to pharmaceutical-like safety testing and quality standards. These elegant chemicals also push the technology into new applications such as soluble yet biologically inert delivery vehicles for pharmaceuticals and medical applications such as biocompatible prosthetics. Click here to learn more about POSS® Technology.