Clemson faculty members receive grants for technology development

CLEMSON — The Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) has announced eight researchers will receive fiscal year 2018 Technology Maturation Fund grants to support the last critical step in development needed to move new technologies to the marketplace.

“The Technology Maturation Fund has proven that small, targeted investments in advancing the development of a technology can lead to licensing or further industry collaboration; the more we can invest the greater the probability of success,” said Chris Gesswein, CURF’s interim executive director. “The best validation we can have of this program is participation by internal innovation partners like the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the department of bioengineering committing matching funds to support projects because they also see value in the technology.”

This year’s awards range from approximately $10,000 to $50,000 and were granted to:

Philip Brown from the materials science and engineering department will further refine manufacturing processes developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense for exceptionally liquid-repellant filaments, fibers and fabrics. The modified surface geometries of these products have super-omniphobic physical properties that can be used in the manufacture of water-resistant clothing. CURF is seeking to attract diverse industry partners to the table for licensing the technology or funding future research to mature the technology.
Delphine Dean from the bioengineering department will pursue testing of a biosensor used to detect microorganisms in drinking water. The biosensor uses plant-based lectin arrays to capture microorganisms on electrode surfaces for detection. The sensor can be manufactured relatively inexpensively while still retaining enough sensitivity to distinguish between different types of low-level microbial water contaminants from very dangerous pathogens to more benign, but still irritating, contaminants.
John DesJardins from the bioengineering department will continue work with 3-D printing technology, creating custom-fitting prosthetic inlays for amputees. Traditional prosthetic socket fittings can cause secondary dermatological issues for amputees, negatively impacting their quality of life. The 3-D printing techniques can reduce pressure at the socket site by utilizing voided architecture and blended material techniques to create personalized prosthetic inlays, drastically improving both fit and comfort.
Joe Mari J. Maja from the Edisto Research and Education Center will refine a fully programmable irrigation system that disperses water at three predefined thresholds, controls the irrigation valve and turns off irrigation remotely. The Clemson aWater (automatic water) System is a sensor-based control system that provides real-time data visualization at 15-second intervals. This technology will prove especially useful for agriculture in water-scarce areas.
Kenneth Marcus from the chemistry department, alongside graduate student Edward D. Hoegg and collaborator David Koppenaal from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, will further develop a novel spectrochemical device, the liquid sampling-atmospheric pressure glow discharge (LS-APGD) microplasma. The technology can be applied for elemental and isotopic analysis of solid, liquid and gas samples. The device has been successfully interfaced to numerous commercially-available mass spectrometer (MS) systems, sold predominately for biomolecular analysis. The LS-APGD microplasma source technology will provide significant versatility to existing systems by expanding the analytic capabilities to conduct both molecular and elemental analysis on the same platform.
Ya-Ping Sun from the chemistry department will conduct research on carbon dot technology to expand its use in bio-imaging, electronics and diagnostic/analytic applications. These carbon dots exhibit high-spectral performance and represent a biocompatible and nontoxic alternative to the semiconductor quantum dots currently in use. The benign nature of carbon dots is uniquely advantageous in human-related commercial applications.
Naren Vyavahare from the bioengineering department will continue development of targeted microparticle-based therapies for cardiovascular and lung diseases caused by elastin degradation. The loss of elastin, a protein that provides elasticity and resilience to tissues, is a primary cause of aortic aneurysms, vascular calcifications and lung emphysema. The targeted approach is highly desirable for developing new imaging modalities to study the extent of disease and deliver drugs to the site of the disease to reverse elastin loss.
Tong Ye from the bioengineering department will create a functioning prototype Pulse-illuminated Edge Deduction (PED) nanoscope, a super-high resolution microscopy technology that works by using two types of excitation pulses and performing pulse-to-pulse subtraction with the resultant signals on a confocal microscope. This method does not have the inherent drawbacks of other super-resolution microscopy techniques and will be especially applicable in biological imaging.