Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Andrew Barnard

Committee Member 1

Jason Blough

Committee Member 2

Mary Raber

Committee Member 3

Andre Laplume


The rate of commercialization for technology developed in junction with academic institutions has risen dramatically over the past 30 years. Since the introduction of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, the amount of intellectual property owned by academic institutions has increased exponentially, and with that, there has also been an increase in the number of university spinouts generated. However, the increase of spinouts does not match the rate of increase in intellectual property. The National Science Foundation has created the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to help bridge this gap and provide academic professionals and students the tools necessary to commercialize technology and produce a better return on their investment into academic research.

Team NanoSound was composed of Dr. Andrew Barnard and Mr. Steven Senczyszyn from Michigan Technological University, and Mr. Steve Mattson of Great Lakes Sound and Vibration. The team participated in a series of I-Corps programs with the intent to commercialize technology being developed in Dr. Barnard’s laboratory. The technology being explored for commercialization is the carbon nanotube (CNT) thermophone. A thermophone is a loudspeaker that generates sound using temperature fluctuations, which is made possible through the use of CNT thin-films. These thin-films allow the speakers to be flexible, lightweight, and have conformable geometries, making them an ideal solution to many noise control problems.

As a result of these programs, Team NanoSound has developed a business model following the Lean Startup method taught in the I-Corps program. The business model aims to prove the technology in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) market by providing an active noise control (ANC) solution to reduce the sound generated by air handling units. HVAC is seen as an entry point into commercialization, with future prospects of expanding into the automotive and military industries by providing an ANC muffler to supplement and eventually replace traditional passive vehicle exhaust systems.