Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Purdue Offers Nanotechnology Licenses for World Smallest Laser and Nerve Regeneration

Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) is offering a number of nanotechnology licenses. OTC is a division of Purdue Research Foundation that works with Purdue University faculty-, staff- and student-inventors to protect, market and license Purdue’s intellectual property.   Licenses are available for the world's smallest nano-laser, the "spaser" as well as methods to grow carbon nanotubes for electronic devices and regenerate nerve cells as well as other nanotechnologies.   

The nanotechnologies included in OTC's complete list of available technologies are:

Microfabricated neural prosthetic devices using conducting electroactive polymers are attractive options for nervous system applications, with current research including the integration of active chemical substances. Purdue University researchers have developed a mesoprous silica nanoparticle (MSN)-based nerve growth factor delivery system that has been embedded within an electroactive polypyrrol, as a potential method for site-specific drug delivery in the vicinity of a biomedical implant. According to the data, the MSN release of the nerve growth factors in the presence of electrical stimulation promoted significantly greater neurite extension.

Dr. Richard Borgens at the Center for Paralysis Research has also shown that spinal cord nerve fibers will grow within a matter of weeks in a steady and very weak electrical field. This discovery has led to the application of electric fields for approximately 14 weeks over the injury to the spinal cord using a new implantable medical device called an Extraspinal Oscillating Field Stimulator (OFS). This procedure is meant to promote better functional recovery in patients through regeneration of injured spinal cord nerve fibers. These OFS units have been surgically implanted in dozens of dogs and are currently being tested in human cases of spinal cord injury at Indiana University Medical Center.

Lead Inventor: Matthew Maschmann

As electronic products and internal components get smaller in size and faster in operating speed, the need for heat dissipation increases. The electric power dissipated in the form of heat is highly dependent on the resistance of the material carrying the electricity; thus, a concentrated effort has been made to lower the resistance of the material itself. Purdue inventors have developed a novel method to reduce the resistance of both conductive and semi-conductive materials by embedding carbon nano-tubes into such materials. This reduces the electric power consumed and lost via heat dissipation for such materials.

Engineers at Purdue University have taken a step toward making advanced electronics, i.e. wireless devices and sensors, by developing a technique to grow individual carbon nanotubes vertically out of tiny cavities on top of a silicon wafer. These advances use nanotubes by stacking circuits and components in layers.

This diagram shows the "porous anodic alumina template" created by Purdue engineers to grow carbon nanotubes vertically out of tiny cavities on top of a silicon wafer.

The technique might form a foundation for creating future “vertically oriented” nanoelectronic devices that can include more devices and circuits into a computer chip while maintaining the same footprint size as conventional chips according to Purdue University Birck Nanotechnology Center researchers.

”The technique might help develop a method for creating ‘vertically oriented’ nanoelectronic devices, the electronic equivalent of a skyscraper,” according to Timothy S. Fisher, an associate professor of mechanical engineering who is leading the work with Timothy D. Sands, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering. Other researchers previously have made the templates, but the Purdue researchers are the first to add a layer of iron, which was Maschmann's idea, Fisher said.

"He was told by many people, including me, that it probably wouldn't work," Fisher said. "We were surprised to see that the nanotubes grow from the sidewall of the hole and then extend vertically."  Early applications are most likely in wireless computer networks and radar technology. Long-term uses are possible in new types of transistors, other electronic devices and circuits.

Lead Inventor: Alexander Wei
An inexpensive and reliable procedure for fabricating high-quality monoparticulate films has been developed based on the self-organization of surfactant-stabilized nanoparticles at the air-water interface. The process would find applications in photonic technologies, electronics, and data storage.

Lead InventorAlexander Wei
Researchers at Purdue have discovered that dithiocarbamate (DTC) ligands and thiol-functionalized ligands can adsorb onto metal surfaces equally well. However, molecular monolayers formed by DTC ligands are more resistant to physiological conditions than those formed by thiol ligands. Molecular monolayers are important in several biomedical technologies. DTC ligands provide a robust contact with metal surfaces and could be useful in such applications. They would also be useful in applications involving the functionalization of metal substrates and nanoparticles intended for biological labeling and biosensing applications.

Lead Inventor: None Listed
Fabrication of nanochannels is attracting considerable interest due to its broad applications in nanobiotechnology and distinct advantages compared to more commonly used nanopores. Nanochannels allow for a slower translocation and multiple sensing spots along the channel which improves read-out resolution. However, they require optical and electrical accessibility which has proven difficult to provide. Purdue researchers have developed a novel fabrication technology for a nanofluidic channel that is simple and compatible with CMOS fabrication. Nano-scale electrical contacts are implemented on the channel and a glass cover allows real time microscopic examination.

Lead Inventor Jillian Buriak
Silicon is the most important material for modern technology because of its widespread use in just about every microelectronic device on the planet, thus far. As the feature sizes on silicon become ever smaller, there is increasing interest in molecular computing because of the far higher potential for high density packing of molecular switches, the ability to tailor the properties of these molecules, etc. In order to interface these molecular devices, such as wires, switches, actuators, sensors and other devices with silicon, new methodologies are required. This technology accomplishes all that is stated above as well as allowing highly defined, electronically connected interfaces that can be patterned on the nanoscale. This technology enables complete control over surface properties and is simple to implement.

Lead Inventor Ronald Andres
Paramagnetic microparticles that are functionalized with specific binding moieties are increasingly being used for cell separation due to the high efficiency, high cell viability, and low cost of this process. These same particles are also proposed for the use in various schemes for pathogen detection. This invention provides a novel magnetic particle that promises to have numerous applications in the fabrication of nanoelectric devices and in the manufacture of ferro-fluids. The particles have a high degree of magnetization and are electrically conductive. They may also be functionalized with a high variety of organic molecules that can impart colloidal stability or can electrically link the clusters to one another through the use of binding reactions of thiols and disulfides to these metallic surfaces. The particles are stable against oxidation and can be functionalized so that they are soluble in either organic solvents or water. Also, since the particles are nontoxic and nano-sized, they can move freely in the human circulatory system without harmful effects

Project Leader Prof. Vladimir Shalaev
Purdue is offering licenses for a SPASER (which uses surface plasmons, whose resonance is capable of squeezing optical frequency oscillations into a nanoscopic cavity) to demonstrate a nanolaser that has overcome the loss of surface plasmons and is detectable in metal nanoparticles.

Researchers have created the tiniest laser since its invention nearly 50 years ago, paving the way for a host of innovations, including superfast computers that use light instead of electrons to process information, advanced sensors and imaging.   Because the new device, called a "spaser," is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on "nanophotonic" circuitry, said Vladimir Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.

Such circuits will require a laser-light source, but current lasers can't be made small enough to integrate them into electronic chips. Now researchers have overcome this obstacle, harnessing clouds of electrons called "surface plasmons," instead of the photons that make up light, to create the tiny spasers.

Findings are detailed in a paper appearing online in the journal Nature that reports on work conducted by researchers at Purdue, Norfolk State University and Cornell University.

Nanophotonics may usher in a host of radical advances, including powerful "hyperlenses" resulting in sensors and microscopes 10 times more powerful than today's and able to see objects as small as DNA; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; and more efficient solar collectors. "Here, we have demonstrated the feasibility of the most critical component - the nanolaser - essential for nanophotonics to become a practical technology," Shalaev said.

The "spaser-based nanolasers" created in the research were spheres 44 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, in diameter - more than 1 million could fit inside a red blood cell. The spheres were fabricated at Cornell, with Norfolk State and Purdue performing the optical characterization needed to determine whether the devices behave as lasers.

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