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UbiQD: UbiGro luminescent film improving cannabis yield through spectral modification

“UbiGro® is well proven in cannabis production, so now it’s time to sell the product and get it into more greenhouses,”

says Eric Moody, Director of Sales at UbiQD. UbiQD is a nanotechnology company using quantum dots to produce luminescent films, with its UbiGro film developed specifically for greenhouse applications.

UbiGro is a luminescent greenhouse film that creates a layer of light in the greenhouse by converting blue and ultraviolet photons into longer wavelengths, namely red and orange. In doing so, UbiGro modifies the natural spectrum to resemble that of HPS lighting, which has proven superior in cannabis production. While UbiGro, orange in appearance, has an emission peak around 600 nm, the film emission includes a shoulder reaching 750 nm, thus including some far red.

According to Damon Hebert, Director of Agriculture Research at UbiQD, “UbiQD has more than 30 patents on our technology. While others could make a different luminescent film, we have patented our chemical processes for agricultural use and to use non-toxic materials. Other quantum dot systems are typically based on cadmium and lead, which are toxic.”

UbiGro demonstrates consistently positive results for cannabis production
Since agricultural research is the cornerstone of UbiQD’s development process, UbiQD works closely with growers to design trials and evaluate the impacts of UbiGro on crop production. In July 2020, UbiQD partnered with the Sacred Garden medical cannabis facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to install UbiGro films over 3,000 square feet. The trial area included 182 plants among four varieties. Throughout the ten-week trial, cannabis plants grown under UbiGro showed enhanced growth rates and an overall yield increase of 8%. Similarly, Little Hill Cultivators in Trinity Co., California, tested UbiGro over a 2,160-square foot area with 248 plants and two strains. The growers reported enhanced vegetative growth and a 16% increase in total dry yield after 10 weeks. As a final example, Frontier Farms in Hood River, Oregon, installed UbiGro in one of its 40 greenhouses and reported a 7.7% increase in wet yield.

Further details about case studies can be found on the UbiGro website.

UbiQD working to develop crop-, cultivar-specific films
According to Damon, UbiQD is experimenting with its technology to eventually provide growers with a range of options differing in color, quantum dot concentration, and form factor to develop crop- and cultivar-specific luminescent films.

“The goal is to balance the luminescent effect with the transmission of PAR light through the film. Our commercially available orange film is 85% transmissive to PAR photons, but when we double the quantum dot concentration, the transmission decreases to around 78%. We don’t want to lose too many PAR photons; we just want to convert blue and UV into red wavelengths,” explains Damon.

In 2021, UbiQD added a sales department to the company to drive UbiGro sales and installation throughout the greenhouse industry, both for cannabis and non-cannabis crops alike.

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Hunter McDaniel CEO & Founder UbiGro

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 Lafaille

Sales Representative

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 Parrish

Agricultural  Engineer

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

Sales Manager

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.”

Eric Moody

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

VP of Business Development

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.