January 13, 2014
UB Names Five Inventions That Could Significantly Benefit Consumers
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
In reviewing work performed during 2013, University at Buffalo officials have projected five research projects conducted at the school last year that could have a significant impact on consumers in the future.
From refining LED technology to ultrasonic body sensors, UB researchers filed several promising provisional patent applications, a precursor to a proper patent, in 2013.
“As a major public research university, we want to ensure that the innovations of our many inventors benefit society as much as possible,” said Robert Genco, the UB vice provost who supervises Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). “That means taking discoveries out of the lab and into the real world, and we provide startup support, research and development funds and other resources to help our faculty and students achieve this.”
Citing technology that the US Navy uses for deep-sea communication, UB engineers developed a novel way for sensors placed within the human body to communicate: sonar. Using simulators, the researchers said they were able to create an algorithm that enables implantable devices to communicate with each other through ultrasound. These devices could be used to monitor glucose levels in diabetics or blood pressure in patients with cardiovascular disease.
A white LED bulb is actually a blue LED shining in combination with compounds called phosphors that shine red and yellow — resulting in white light. To advance this technology, engineers at the university have developed small crystals called quantum dots that release both red and yellow light more efficiently than conventional materials. Teams at other institutions have also been working with quantum dots, but the UB team has been able to engineer the crystals so they maintain efficiency at the high temperatures and light levels found within LEDs.
The UB quantum dots are also made with easily accessible and non-toxic indium phosphide –a much better option than phosphors, which can contain expensive rare-earth elements. The adoption of this technology could substantially lower the cost of LED technology.
Hardening certain inks, resins and films with ultraviolet light can result in the production of toxic ozone. In what appears to be another patentable discovery, UB scientists were able to craft nanoparticles that prevent exposure to ozone and allow for the curing, or hardening, of thicker materials than conventional methods. The use of these nanoparticles has the potential to reduce the amount of ozone emitted by commercial laser printers.
UB medical researchers were also able to generate promising consumer-related developments in 2013. One development was a novel way to fight and prevent gonorrhea infection. Caused by a bacterium that disrupted the body’s defenses, gonorrhea can infect the same person multiple times in their life.
Using Interleukin-12, an immune system protein, researchers were able to effectively remove and prevent re-infection of gonorrhea in laboratory mice. The same team is currently working with antibodies that neutralize two of gonorrhea’s weapons against the immune system — Interleukin-10 and TGF-beta.
UB dental researchers are developing a new therapy to fight a different kind of infection – fungal infections in the mouth, also known as thrush or oral candidiasis. The new treatment combines an antifungal protein and chemical compounds that promote fungal cells to absorb the protein’s derivatives. The researchers said their treatment was able to effectively kill both Candida albicans and Candida glabrata, two of the most common causes of the disease.