For University of Maryland researchers, the last year has marked a series of new discoveries and innovations: a revolutionary nanopore battery with high storage capabilities, a language aptitude measuring system, and a national food safety database to improve safety measures in retail establishments, to name just a few. UMD will honor nine nominees for the most promising new inventions at the Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships event on April 29.
The Corporate Connector of the Year award will also be announced at the event. The award is given each year to an individual or a program in the university who has established partnerships with the private sector in corporate research, philanthropy, and/or student support.
UMD’s Office of Technology Commercialization, part of the Division of Research, received a total of 187 disclosures in 2014. The nine nominees for Invention of the Year were selected based upon their potential impact on science, society, and the open market. Winners will be announced in three categories: physical sciences, life sciences, and information sciences.
The nominees in the Life Sciences category are:
Dr. Christopher Jewell, assistant professor at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, along with his colleague, Dr. Darrell Irvine, professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have invented a vaccine delivery technique that could tremendously enhance the management of cancer and autoimmune diseases. The technology can dramatically increase the efficiency and specificity of therapeutic vaccines by effectively targeting the lymph node.
Another groundbreaking life sciences invention is an apparatus developed by Dr. Javier Atencia-Fernandez, research assistant professor at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. The device can cause bacteria present in food to actually self-separate so that researchers and users in independent labs that perform food safety tests for the food industry can rapidly detect pathogens in food samples. It only takes the device 30 minutes to extract 75% of the bacteria in a food sample, and two hours and 30 minutes to extract 99%. By comparison, existing processes take 12 to 36 hours.
Along with his team, Dr. Daniel C. Nelson, assistant professor at the UMD Department of Veterinary Medicine, who is also with the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), has identified an enzyme produced by bacteriophages that selectively targets Staphylococcus bacteria, which causes life-threatening infections in humans. The new invention is PlyGRCS, an endolysin enzyme which chews up the cell wall of the bacterium, causing its death and offering a new alternative to traditional antibiotics. The new enzyme is capable of cleaving the cell wall through two places as opposed to traditional endolysins, which can cleave in only one dimension.
Nominees in the Physical Sciences category include:
Dr. Gary Rubloff, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Maryland NanoCenter, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Sang Bok Lee, and their research team invented a nanopore battery with high energy density and excellent capacity retention. The battery is made of nanotubular electrodes and an electrolyte, all confined in an anodic aluminum oxide nanopore. It is an all-in-one device and shows promise for higher energy availability for a given power density due to larger surface area and shorter transport time for the ions in the electrode material. It signifies the potential that nanostructure design has for high power electrochemical storage.
Mechanical Engineering Professor Patrick McCluskey and his research team have developed a Transient Liquid Phase Sintering (TLPS) paste. The paste uses very low cost materials and gives high temperature resistance upon solder joint completion. These joints need no vacuum or reduced atmosphere for processing, possess high melting temperatures of above 600 ℃, and have superior drop test reliability than traditional silver-tin solders.
UMD researchers have developed a single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detection system that is so sensitive that it detects photons that arrive at times well before a readout gate is applied, hence increasing the system’s detection duty cycle. This invention by Dr. Alessandro Restelli of the Joint Quantum Institute represents a new mode of operation for SPADs, similar to charge-coupled devices (CCD), in which single-photon signals may be accumulated within the detector and read out some time later. This increases the duration of time during which the detector is sensitive to single-photon signals. This new mode of operation will expand the usefulness of SPADs in the areas of Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and quantum cryptography.
The nominees in the Information Sciences category are:
With the food and beverage industry becoming increasingly competitive, the system developed by Dr. Ben Bederson, professor in the Department of Computer Science and associate provost of learning initiatives, is set to help commercial food establishments monitor the performance of their outlets located across multiple jurisdictions and also track the performance of their competitors. Bederson and his research team have developed a national database of food safety inspections, a system that retrieves and compiles food safety data available online on both federal and state websites.
Dr. Catherine Doughty, senior research scientist from the Center for the Advanced Study of Language (CASL) and her team have designed and developed an aptitude testing battery that uses a series of tests to find out what level of proficiency a learner can achieve while undergoing training in a foreign language. Using tests, the Hi-level Language Aptitude Battery and Aptitude Profile Card System also indicate the best learning style for individual learners.
This nomination is a novel technique to measure Electric Network Frequency (ENF) signals by exploiting the rolling shutter mechanism in a modern Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor or CMOS-based camera. The technology, developed by Dr. Min Wu, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, and the Institute for Systems Research, along with her research team, enables the source verification of a video stream by extracting the ENF signals using a camera that views objects lit with incandescent or fluorescent lighting with a rolling shutter.
Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships
The Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships event will be held as part of the University of Maryland’s ’30 Days of EnTERPreneurship,’ a month-long celebration and exhibition of innovation and entrepreneurship on the College Park campus.
Invention of the Year Awards is hosted by the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), a part of the Division of Research and UM Ventures.
The UMD Corporate Connect Council is a university-wide collaboration that supports information sharing, partnerships and campus efforts to engage the private sector in support of research philanthropy and scholarships funded by the private sector.
March 23, 2015