In August 2018, UbiQD was first awarded a Phase I STTR contract as part of NASA’s strategic mission to advance capabilities in the area of space technology, food production, and more. The successful project demonstrated improved crop yields for red romaine lettuce. One of the light recipes used in the study was UbiQD’s luminescent greenhouse product, UbiGro®, which resulted in a 13% increase in dry weight of the vegetable, as well as an 8% increase in leaf area.
“On long-duration space missions, where astronauts will need to make the most use of resources, boosting food production with this technology could be a ‘game-changer,'” said Gene Giacomelli, a professor of biosystems engineering at University of Arizona who leads the work at UA-CEAC. “There is definitely something positive in this material as well as the technology which UbiQD has implemented. I’m on their horse in this race.”
UbiQD has been developing its quantum dot agriculture films after receiving funding from Breakout Labs in 2017 to explore the concept. By efficiently providing an ideal light spectrum, UbiQD’s new UbiGro™ film is designed to promote vegetable production and accelerate plant growth. UbiQD has partnered with commercial greenhouses to install the UbiGro product in 15 locations across six countries and five U.S. states, including in its home state of New Mexico. Growing Opportunities, based in Alcalde, NM, is using UbiGro™ film to boost the fresh weight yield of tomatoes, and the company first released commercial data from this farm in November 2019.
“We are thrilled to continue our work with the University of Arizona and NASA to improve the light quality for plants grown in space,” said Matt Bergren, Principle Investigator and Chief Product Officer at UbiQD. “Our technology could not only help provide fresh fruit and vegetables to future astronauts on missions to the Moon or Mars, but also benefit growers here on Earth.”
UbiQD is a nanotechnology company based in Los Alamos, New Mexico that manufactures safe, high-performance, quantum dots and greenhouse materials. For more information please visit UbiQD.com and UbiGro.com.
The Mission of the University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (UA-CEAC) is to develop economically, environmentally and socially sustainable agricultural systems that will provide food of high quality for helping to feed the world. Engineers and scientists focus on CEA production agricultural practices within greenhouses, growth rooms, and vertical farms. Learn more: https://ceac.arizona.edu/
The NASA STTR program is sponsored by its Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and managed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. STMD is responsible for developing the cross-cutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions. Learn more about the awards: https://sbir.nasa.gov/prg_selection/node/62898.
Hunter McDaniel, PhD
Founder & CEO
Hunter earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Chemistry Division. Ultimately the value proposition of UbiGro is about boosting crop yields and quality without the cost or energy impact of lighting. Hunter has more than fifty publications and patents, and more than 2000 total citations, h-index: 20. Hunter fundamentally believes that novel materials underpin every significant technology advancement, and he is focused on leveraging new materials to have a lasting and sustainable impact.
Damon Hebert, PhD
Director of Agriculture
Damon brings a wide range of experience in agriculture, materials science, spectroscopy, and small business. During his time in Prof. Angus Rockett’s research group at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Hebert authored a doctoral thesis and multiple papers on the materials science of CIGS semiconductor materials, which is closely related to the materials developed at UbiQD. He also served as a consultant to Nanosolar, a CIGS nanocrystal solar cell manufacturing company. Hebert has industry experience having co-founded Dr. Jolly’s, a leading cultivation and distribution operation in Bend, OR.
Tania is a UbiGro Sales Representative, with over 7 years of experience in product sales (specifically berries and avocados) covering all of North America and parts of South America. While in agriculture, Tania has cultivated strong relationships with growers and distributors, granting her a unique insight into both perspectives. That understanding, paired with her fierce dedication to results, drives her fun and fiery commitment to her craft. Tania is based in Gilroy, CA.
Charles earned a Bachelor’s in Biological Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Master’s in Biosystems Engineering from The University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. Advised by Dr. Gene Giacomelli, Charles conducted his thesis on the “Optimization of Spectral Quality with Quantum Dots to Enhance Crop Yield in Controlled Environments.” Charles has a decade of biological engineering, greenhouse technology, and molecular biology experience from lab to production scale including working with the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. He brings his experience in hydroponics, controlled environment systems design, photobiology, greenhouse engineering, and scientific outreach.
Jim Gideon is an UbiGro Sales Manager, with over 25 years of greenhouse industry sales experience covering all of North America. Previously Jim has worked for Green Tek, Plazit-Polygal, Texel, Cherry Creek, and Nexus. He is based in Montgomery, AL, and Jim believes that “light is everything to the grower.”
Director of Sales
Eric Moody is UbiQD’s Director of UbiGro Sales. Eric has more than 6 years of experience in horticulture lighting industry, building relationships with greenhouse growers of all sizes and crops on optimal lighting for their growing operation, and most recently managed a North American sales team for PL Light Systems. Overall, Eric has been in sales leadership positions for more than 13 years. Eric brings with him a great understanding of the market and available technologies for growers, greenhouse facilities, and sales leadership.
Mike Burrows, PhD
Dr. Michael Burrows is UbiQd’s Vice President of Business Development. His educational background includes a Materials Science doctorate from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business. His career has specialized in the commercialization of novel electronic materials in venture-run programs for different industries including solar, biosensors, and the automotive industry. In both start-up and corporate environments, he has extensive experience in global market development, foraging supply chain partnerships, productization, and brand building. He is currently leading UbiQD’s partnership efforts in luminescent greenhouse technology, smart windows, and security ventures.
Matt Bergern, PhD
Cheif Product Officer
As Chief Product Officer at UbiQD, Dr. Matt Bergren leads the company’s product development efforts, sales, and product manufacturing, including the company’s first commercial agriculture product, UbiGro. He plays a critical role in continuing the company’s path of technology development and vision of powering product innovations in agriculture, clean energy, and security.
He serves as the principal investigator for UbiQD’s contract with NASA, focused on tailoring the solar spectrum for enhanced crop production for space missions. Dr. Bergren’s leadership experience includes serving on the board of directors for the New Mexico Energy Manufacturing Institute, focused on job creation in New Mexico’s energy, and related manufacturing community.