New Inventions

Temperature Gradient Handling System for Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) Measurements

Researchers in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse have developed a surface plasmon resonance (SPR) based method for measuring, in a single experiment, the temperature dependence of binding kinetics for biomolecular interactions. The method is based on a novel sample handling system that generates a spatial temperature gradient across an SPR sensor and is label free.
(Aug 17, 2016) T150042US03

High Accuracy Angle Measuring Device for Industrial, Medical, Scientific or Recreational Use

A UW-Stout researcher has developed a high-accuracy angle measurement system that addresses the problems inherent to commercially available systems. In this novel device, a high accuracy rotary optical encoder is controlled by a microprocessor. The encoder consists of rotating optical disks and sensors that are precisely formed and placed to read angles with 0.001 arc second sensitivity (average) and better than ±0.1 arc second accuracy (single readings), which is comparable to the accuracy of the high-end commercial encoders currently on the market. This accuracy is maintained with strategies that combat the mechanical sources of error that are known disadvantages of other devices. The system can also be adjusted to compensate for any asymmetrical shifts that may occur. Mechanical sources of error and noise are further minimized by precision placement of disks and sensors, as well as low-friction reference points that keep components centered and level during rotation. In addition, multiple sensor heads eliminate major readout errors and remove the need for recalibration. All of these features and benefits are contained within a design that is both compact and portable. Beyond high accuracy and portability, the cost of this new angle measurement system is substantially lower than a high-end commercial system because it is easily constructed from readily available industrial grade components, bringing the production cost to roughly $2,000. Strikingly, this cost is comparable to the advertised price of other rotary position encoders that are less than one tenth as accurate. Its high accuracy, low cost, and portability make this new angle measurement system a strong option for use in virtually any of the current applications for absolute rotary encoders.
(Aug 8, 2016) T130018US02

“Green” Catalytic Systems for Solvent-Free Alcohol Oxidations

Research from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has led to the discovery and development of a novel suite of catalytic systems for industrially-relevant green oxidations including the oxidative conversion of primary and secondary alcohols to value-added aldehydes and ketones. Similar systems have been developed for the oxidation of olefins to produce important epoxides, and for the oxidation of alkanes to produce alcohols. Specifically the team has developed a series of iron-based catalysts known as ‘helmet’ phthalocyaninaoto complexes of iron(III). Preliminary studies have focused on the use of what is commonly referred to as the ‘diiPc’ iron(III) system. Notably, the team has shown that this system is capable of catalytically oxidizing a diverse array of substrates including five non-benzylic alcohols (1-pentanol, 2-pentanol and cyclohexanol as well as 2,4-dimethyl-3-pentanol and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural) in the absence of added organic solvent. The presence of water as the monodentate axial ligand in the diiPc complex allows for markedly increased solubility in non-aromatic alcohols, making it an ideal catalyst for use with a much wider and more diverse range of substrates under solvent free conditions. It is envisaged that modification of the diiPc and related ligands will be undertaken to impart further enhancements to catalyst solubility in substrates or water, and/or superior stability in substrate alcohols. In addition to the diiPc system, the team have also developed a means of forming derivatized catalysts utilizing what is commonly referred to as a “helmet naphthalocyaninato” iron(III) complex. Specifically, a sulfonated version has been produced that possesses excellent solubility in water due to the added hydrophilic groups. To date, the sulfonated helmet naphthalocyaninato complex has been shown to provide for efficient formation of acetone from isopropanol as well as conversion of 2-pentanol to 2-pentanone using hydrogen peroxide as the primary oxidant. As such we anticipate that the same system would also be effective in the oxidation of 2-butanol to produce methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), an important commodity scale industrial chemical, and in many other commercially important transformations. Furthermore, preliminary studies have shown this molecule can be immobilized on various solid supports including anion-exchange resins, thereby resulting in a heterogeneous catalyst that can be utilized in the development of catalytic transformations that occur under flow conditions. Additionally, we now know that the sulfonated catalyst efficiently catalyzes the oxidation of phenol with hydrogen peroxide to produce para-benzoquinone. This transformation, along with other related reactions, is very important in the treatment of wastewater.
(Jul 22, 2016) T150040US03

Nylon-3 Polymers Active Against Clostridium Difficile

UW–Madison researchers and collaborators at Emory Medical School have developed nylon-3 polymers and copolymers active against C. difficile. The polymers have been shown to inhibit outgrowth/growth of the bacteria in spore and vegetative form.
(Jun 30, 2016) P150214US02

DNA “Millichip” Enables Low-Cost, High Throughput Gene Expression Analysis

UW-Madison researchers have developed a DNA “millichip” designed for low-cost, high throughput gene expression analysis in whole genomes.  The millichips consist of 1,000 to 100,000 different oligonucleotides probes immobilized on small solid support arrays with relatively high density.  The probes, which range from 30 to 100 nucleotides long, occupy separate, known sites in the arrays. 

For example, a maskless array synthesizer (MAS) can be used to synthesize about 800,000 70-mer oligonucleotides on a glass microscope slide.  Then the slide is divided into 96 pieces, each containing about 30,000 of the 70-mer DNA sequences.  These small pieces can be used in any experiment that uses standard DNA chips.

Because the millichips are small, less than 10 cubic centimeters, small volumes of solutions can be used for analysis.  In addition, the small substrate size allows the arrays to be visualized using instrumentation readily available in research laboratories.
(Apr 4, 2016) P07308US02

New and More Potent UGM Inhibitors for Treating Tuberculosis, Other Microbial Infections

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new set of UGM inhibitors to fight tuberculosis and other diseases caused by microbial infections. The compounds feature an N-acylsulfonamide motif and are more potent in vitro than inhibitors previously identified by the researchers.
(Mar 11, 2016) P160093US01

HealthPet Auto-Feeder

Developed out of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the HealthPet Auto-Feeder is a wet-food pet feeder that automatically feeds cats and dogs by storing and delivering up to 15 heat-packed food pouches in 2-ounce serving containers allowing for multiple feedings per day. Additional pouches can be added with further modification to increase the quantity that can be dispensed. Food containers are stored vertically in revolving cylinders on top of the feeder and released with an electric timer that allows pet owners to program feeding times throughout the day. A conveniently located storage container has been designed so that it can be removed with ease for disposal of empty containers. The device has been designed so that it is completely motorized, user friendly and can be adapted for use with a mobile app for remote control.
(Feb 19, 2016) T150013US02

Novel Antimicrobial Food Packaging with Enhanced Safety

  • A UW-Stout researcher has developed a practical and cost effective method for surface modification of commonly used plastics using UV induced photo-grafting. Preliminary studies have demonstrated that this method is capable of generating a plastic product with strong covalent linkages to an antifungal compound. Proof of concept studies have focused on the use of low density polyethylene (LDPE), which is conventionally used for cling wrap, and the antifungal, natamycin, which is a natural substance generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration and designated as a natural preservative by the European Union.
  • In initial studies during storage at 3 degrees Celsius for 1-2 weeks, the natamycin-bound LDPE plastic inhibited growth of the fungus Penicillium chrysogenum by 60% in agar and by 100% in cantaloupe, and similar outcomes were observed for yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These results demonstrate the clear efficacy of the antifungal grafted plastic, making it a compelling candidate for a product that prevents spoilage while also avoiding migration of preservatives to food. Similar strategies could be used to develop other polyolefin plastics grafted with other antifungal compounds, and they could be applied beyond food, in areas including but not limited to textiles as well as healthcare.
(Feb 17, 2016) T160012US01

New System for Producing Fungal Secondary Metabolites

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new system for producing fungal secondary metabolites using test plasmids and a genetically modified strain of Aspergillus nidulans (TPMW2.3). The strain begins producing secondary metabolites when a gene promoter in the plasmid is triggered by culture conditions. This allows researchers to induce or repress production.
(Feb 16, 2016) P150029US02

Covalently Linked Soft Networks of Gold Nanoparticles

A researcher at UW-Eau Claire has invented a method for efficient fabrication of gold nanoparticle plasmonic waveguides. Nanoparticles are synthesized and purified by known techniques and cast upon an air-water interface. A solution is introduced to the nanoparticles and upon evaporation the nanoparticles form a crosslinked coherent network. The crosslinking imparts a mechanical strength to the film, permitting further manipulation including transfer to solid substrates and surface chemical modification. Incorporation of photoreactive crosslinkers renders the process reversible.
(Jan 4, 2016) T130010US02