May 14, 2020
Alex could be easily called one of the founding members of our company. He is a highly skilled specialist in scaling chemical production, synthesis of inorganic fullerene nanoparticles, chemical engineering; electron microscopy; X-ray powder diffractometry (and the list goes on and on!) Back when he joined the company, he was a Ph.D. student at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Alexander Margolin completed his Ph.D. dissertation (you can find it right here!) in Chemistry at Weizmann in 2005. In 2006 Alexander started working at ApNano Materials as a Senior Process Engineer. Today, he is the Chief Operating Officer.
Alex, you have published at least 20 scientific papers and have multiple patents in nanotechnology and explosives. You know there is a myth that scientists grow up from kids who are experimenting with various explosives. Did you blow up anything when you were a child?
Well, we, the chemists, not only support this myth, but we also help spread it. (Laughing) I would prefer that my colleagues remain clueless about my experiments with explosives, like destroyed doors or some facilities at the neighboring School. A funny incident sparked my family’s support for my passion for Science in general and in chemistry in particular. I was about 13 when I suggested to my grandfather to use charcoal filters to purify his home-brewed Moonshine, or the Samogon, as it’s called in Russian. All jokes aside, around the same time, I realized that Chemistry was my favorite subject.
Did you ever have an unexpected outcome in your experiments?
Yes! It was a classic case of scientific discovery for our team. Once, we were running a routine tuning process of our closed-caged onion-like quasi-spherical particles of tungsten disulfide (WS2), when one of the control devices malfunctioned. We had to stop. My colleagues and I were convinced that the experiment has failed. However, much to our surprise, the result was phenomenal. We’ve got ourselves not only quasi-spherical submicron particles of WS2 but also some elongated nanoparticles of WS2. Till that day, we only had limited knowledge of synthesizing these nanotubes. So this (not so) “failed” experiment turned out to be a successful one. Today, we are the only company in the world with the knowledge of repeatable synthesis of elongated nanoparticles.
How does your work help the industrial world and environment in general, and us, the ordinary people, in particular? In other words, how is this relevant?
As written in our ISO certificate, we work hard to do our best to serve our customers. The products developed and produced by our company help to prolong the life of the equipment. The anti-wear properties of tungsten disulfide (WS2) were known for a long time. But this industrial material usage was limited due to the high price. WS2 is one of the best solid lubricants known to scientists. Our company not only manufactures the inorganic fullerene-like nanoparticles of IF-WS2 but also knows how to disperse these particles in industrial oils, water, solvent, and other media. Most importantly, our IF-WS2 based products are affordable and proven to be effective.
What do you work on now, and what are your future projects?
Our international team is always working on several different projects simultaneously. The closest to release is a family of innovative coatings with unmatched mechanical properties. Some of our materials are already used in aerospace and military programs. Now we are working on improving the (strengthening) substances with our IF-WS2 nanoparticles.