Through Technologies

New Patents

Degrading Tumors with Microwave Heat Probes

UW–Madison researchers have developed an improved design for “dual-slot” antennas that incorporates a cooling sleeve and rigid ceramic tip. The coaxially fed, embedded delivery system focuses energy specifically to the tissue surrounding the antenna tip.

Accommodating long, short or even customized shafts, this flexible design facilitates the practical implementation of antenna technology for clinicians seeking safer, more controlled heating patterns. The heating pattern could be tailored to specific clinical applications that require more spherical or more narrow ablation zones.
(Aug 4, 2015) P120091US01

Masks for Growing Nanopatterned Polymer Brushes

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for growing nanopatterned polymer brushes using SI-ATRP. The method relies on making and using a lithographic mask.

The mask has three layers: a surface, a neutral layer and a block copolymer (BCP) film. The neutral layer serves two purposes. First, it induces the overlying BCP film to form vertical domains. Secondly, it provides initiating sites from which to grow the polymer brush chains.

Before that can happen, parts of the BCP film are selectively removed by etching. This forms a desired pattern of exposed regions. During SI-ATRP, these regions are exposed to a growth solution. The result is a polymer brush made of multiple chains, each of which is attached to the neutral layer.
(Aug 4, 2015) P130118US01

Woody Biomass Sulfite Pretreatment to Overcome Lignocellulose Recalcitrance for Biofuel Production

UW-Madison researchers have developed an improved pretreatment process for robust conversion of biomass.  This process, known as Sulfite Pretreatment to Overcome Recalcitrance of Lignocellulose (SPORL), reduces the energy consumption needed for size-reduction processes, required before enzymatic hydrolysis, by more than tenfold.  The new method can employ a number of aqueous sulfite or bisulfite solutions over a wide range of pH values and temperatures to weaken the chemical structure of the plant material.  It is particularly suitable for woody biomass, softwoods such as pines and other conifers that dominate many forests in the U.S., Canada, Europe and New Zealand, and hardwoods such as poplar, willow and eucalyptus that dominate temperate and boreal forests around the world.

The improved SPORL approach is flexible and integrated easily into current pretreatment systems.  The pH of the pretreatment liquor can be adjusted by reagent, making SPORL easily incorporated into current dilute acid approaches to improve the efficiency of the pretreatment.  Mechanical size reduction steps such as disk or hammer milling can be implemented directly before or after SPORL depending on the stock material.  In addition, the final enzymatic hydrolysis can be coupled directly after the pretreatment with or without washing the material or adding a surfactant to aid in the process.  The pretreatment also can be employed with steam explosion, using bisulfite as a catalyst.  After pretreatment, the hydrolyzed biomass can be separated and the sugars fermented or catalytically converted into fuels while sulfonated lignin byproducts can be sold to established markets and other wastes burned to produce energy for the process.

The novel SPORL approach is a superior method of biomass pretreatment because of its versatility, simplicity and efficiency.  It also has excellent scalability to commercial production.  The method will increase the energy efficiency of ethanol fermentation and catalytic fuel production processes through decreased size-reduction energy requirements and maximized enzymatic cellulose conversion in a short period of time.  This increase in efficiency will allow biofuels and other bioproducts to become economically competitive with petroleum derived fuels and products.
(Jul 28, 2015) P08193US

More Efficient Semiconductor Lasers

UW–Madison researchers have taken a new approach and developed QCLs configured for symmetric longitudinal mode (single-lobe beams) with no loss in efficiency. Instead of relying on phase shifters, the new lasers work by suppressing undesired antisymmetric longitudinal modes.

The lasers are made of layers of cladding, metal (such as gold or silver) and indium phosphide-based semiconductor material. The interface of the metal and semiconductor layers forms a corrugated, second-order distributed feedback grating, which absorbs the undesired antisymmetric longitudinal modes. This configuration eliminates the need for cleaved facets.
(Jul 28, 2015) P140047US01

Dramatically More Sensitive Ion Channel Antenna

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new antenna for analyzing ion channel activity. The antenna and circuitry can be used to amplify a signal produced from a capacitance change at a single nanopore.

Specifically, the antenna provides radio frequency measurements of electrical changes (impedance) in cell walls. It has two lobes spaced apart, and is shaped like a variant of the ‘bow-tie’ design to support high gain and broad bandwidth. It is placed around a nanopore made of glass, quartz or other material. A radio frequency signal applied across the antenna lobes determines changes of electrical flow across the cellular membrane when positioned appropriately.
(Jul 21, 2015) P130074US01

Protecting Groups for Boronic Acids

UW–Madison researchers have developed two novel protecting groups for boronic acids that make them easier to synthesize, manipulate and use. Protecting groups prevent undesired reactions.

Compound 1 is a divalent ligand to protect hemiboronic acids (e.g., benzoxaborole). Compound 2 is a trivalent ligand that complements another popular trivalent protecting group called MIDA (N-methyliminodiacetic acid). The protected boronic acids are liberated by aqueous acid.

Boronic acids treated with either of the protecting groups become highly luminescent when exposed to long-wave UV light, facilitating their use.
(Jul 21, 2015) P130142US02

Optimizing Ultrasonic Elasticity Imaging with Selectable Inputs

UW-Madison researchers have developed an improved method of ultrasonic elasticity imaging that uses cost functions, a type of mathematical optimization, to weight the differences between the correlation and continuity for different forms of tissue.  The correlation of the tissue refers to the restoration of signal coherence, where as the continuity refers to the correctness of kernel block matching with respect to other matches.  This method also will allow the operator and the computer program to fine-tune the image based on a priori knowledge of the tissues or imaging situation and information acquired during the scanning process.

The new method improves upon previous techniques of elasticity imaging, namely the use of empirical equations and parallel computer processing to enhance image acquisition, by providing additional input parameters from both the ultrasound operator and the imaging software.  Specifically, the operator can input information about the type of tissue, specific imagining task, appropriate cost functions, tissue boundaries and other imaging protocol.  The computer software can select specific or general cost functions, shorten the computational process with a Viterbi algorithm, integrate equations into the block matching process and manage calculations across tissue boundaries.  Together, the operator input and computer analysis greatly improve the speed and precision of the ultrasonic elasticity imaging process, increasing the probability of tumor identification and accurate diagnosis.
(Jul 14, 2015) P07464US

Gene Interactions Positively Affect Embryonic Survival in Dairy Cattle

Using an in vitro fertilization system, the UW–Madison researcher now has identified two SNPs in the STAT3 gene that are associated with reproduction.  He discovered that the combination of the two STAT3 SNPs, as well as the combination of a previously known STAT1 SNP and one of the STAT3 SNPs, are correlated with embryonic survival.  The presence of both STAT3 SNPs or one of the STAT3 SNPs and the STAT1 SNP showed a greater association with desirable reproduction traits than either STAT3 SNP alone.
(Jul 14, 2015) P090396US02

Liquid Crystal Devices for Detecting and Quantifying Endotoxin

UW–Madison researchers have developed methods and devices for detecting and quantifying endotoxin using micrometer-sized droplets of liquid crystal dispersed in aqueous solution.  The researchers found that LPS triggers anchoring configuration transitions on contact with liquid crystals by changing the energies of topological point defects generated within the liquid crystal microdomains.

In a preferred embodiment, a sensor contains liquid crystal droplets that have a bipolar alignment with two point defects.  When the device is exposed to a solution that contains LPS, the alignment of the liquid crystals quickly changes from bipolar (LPS negative) to radial (LPS positive) with one point defect.  This change in alignment can be detected easily using polarized light or other means.   
(Jul 14, 2015) P09241US02