Through Technologies

New Patents

Lignin-Metal Complex Formation to Enhance Biofuel Production Processes

UW-Madison researchers have developed a method of cellulose hydrolysis using metal compounds to prevent the non-productive adsorption of enzymes by lignin during biofuel production. Metal compounds such as ferrous, magnesium and calcium compounds are used to form lignin-metal complexes. The formation of the lignin-metal complex prevents adsorption of enzymes by deactivating the non-productive adsorption sites on lignin. As a result, more enzymes are available for efficient cellulose saccharification. The formation of a lignin-metal complex allows a pretreatment step with no high-volume wash involved, reducing the energy and water costs associated with the biofuel production process.
(Aug 26, 2014) P100184US02

Solubilizing and Characterizing Membrane Proteins Using Tandem Facial Amphiphiles

UW–Madison researchers have developed tandem facial amphiphiles (TFAs) that can aid the solubilization, isolation, purification, stabilization, crystallization and structural determination of membrane proteins.

A membrane preparation containing the protein of interest is treated with TFA to achieve protein extraction and solubilization. The TFAs can contain a pair of maltose-functionalized deoxycholate units that are long enough to match the width of a lipid bilayer and form a sheath around the protein’s nonpolar surfaces. The TFAs can stabilize intrinsic membrane proteins in native-like conformations.
(Aug 26, 2014) P110057US02

Thin-Film Semiconductor for Increasing Microprocessor Speeds

UW-Madison researchers have developed a method for fabricating a heterogeneous semiconductor structure that enhances both electron and hole mobility. This method extends a previous patent (see WARF reference number P06047US) to allow the fabrication of mixed-crystal-orientation silicon that incorporates the hole mobility enhancing strained Si(110) with the high electron mobility of Si(001).

During fabrication, a thin, single-crystal silicon membrane with regularly patterned holes is applied on a silicon substrate with a different composition, orientation or strain state. The holes then are filled by growing up the bottom layer. Alternatively, the bottom silicon semiconductor layer is patterned with regularly spaced holes. Then a second single-crystal membrane with a different composition, orientation or strain state is applied as a layer over the first and fills the holes. When the top is smoothed, islands of the second layer remain, surrounded by the first. The difference in crystalline orientation, semiconductor composition and/or degree of strain between the silicon layers results in one type of silicon experiencing enhanced electron mobility while the other experiences enhanced hole mobility.
(Aug 12, 2014) P07485US

Enterotoxin-Deficient Bacillus Strains for Use as Biocontrol Agents

UW–Madison researchers have now created improved mutants of B. thuringiensis for use as bioinsecticides on food crops. In the modified strains, four distinct operons, each comprising three genes that encode unique enterotoxins that have been implicated in food poisoning, have been replaced with copies containing deletions, rendering the enterotoxins non-functional. The quadruple enterotoxin-deficient strains do not produce the enterotoxin products that are associated with human toxicity, yet perform as well as the wild-type B. thuringiensis strain.
(Aug 12, 2014) P08212US02

Low-Temperature, Corrosion-Resistant Integrated Metal Coatings to Improve Efficiency of Coal Plants

UW-Madison researchers have developed an improved method for the low-temperature synthesis of integrated, corrosion-resistant coatings for metal substrates. The low-temperature process avoids the degradation of substrate mechanical properties that occurs in traditional pack cementation processes. The new method also improves upon previous technologies by widening the scope of its application. For example, synthesis of aluminide coatings on steel alloys via low-temperature pack cementation can enhance oxidation resistance in conditions of extreme temperature and moisture, as in high-temperature operation of steam power generation plants. 

In general, the integrated coating consists of the substrate metal, a diffusion-barrier that hinders diffusion of the coating components into the substrate, a corrosion-resistant layer and an oxidation barrier. Deposition of the integrated structure can be achieved via pack cementation at a temperature lower than 700°C, or by thermal spray, vapor deposition or electrodeposition methods.

The substrate, diffusion layer and corrosion-resistant layer can consist of metals, intermetallic compounds or metalloid alloys, depending on the specific application of the integrated structure. For example, a chromium/molybdenum/steel alloy substrate could be coated with an aluminum/iron/intermetallic diffusion-barrier and an aluminum/iron corrosion-resistant layer for use in coal-fired power plants, in which the integrated coating is in contact with supercritical steam. With these techniques, coal-fired power plants can operate at higher temperatures to exploit supercritical steam properties, improving efficiency and reducing overall emissions.
(Aug 5, 2014) P08213US

Hydrogel Drug Delivery Device as an Alternative to Pressurized Gas or Voltage Transdermal Technology

UW-Madison researchers have developed a drug delivery device that provides a controlled infusion of a drug to an individual.  The device includes a reservoir that holds the drug.  A predetermined stimulus, which may be activated by the individual, causes a hydrogel to exert pressure on the reservoir, dispensing the drug.
(Aug 5, 2014) P09034US

Genes for Xylose Fermentation, Enhanced Biofuel Production in Yeast

UW–Madison researchers have identified 10 genes in yeast that are involved in xylose fermentation. These genes could be used to create an organism that can ferment both xylose and glucose for enhanced biofuel production.
(Aug 5, 2014) P100245US03

Degradable Polycations Derived from Amino Acid Vinyl Esters

UW–Madison researchers have developed monomers that can be used to synthesize cationically modified poly(vinyl alcohol) materials with a high degree of control over backbone charge density and hydrophilicity of the resulting material.

Specifically, the researchers have optimized the synthesis and polymerization of a series of N-Boc-protected amino acid vinyl ester (BAAVE) monomers derived from Boc-protected glycine, alanine, valine and proline. Direct free radical polymerization of the BAAVE monomers with vinyl acetate, followed by a deprotection step, can yield either hydrophilic or hydrophobic cationic materials.
(Aug 5, 2014) P120121US02

Steering and Tuning Lasers Formed by Nanoscale Microtubes

UW–Madison researchers have developed semiconductor microtube lasers that are wavelength-tunable and can be steered when an electromagnetic field is applied.

The microtube is a heterostructure of various group III/V alloys integrated for different purposes. The structuring involves three essential components: a strained layer to make the tube curl, an optically active lattice to emit laser light (interband or intersubband), and a grating structure to provide optical feedback. Thickness of the layers may range from five to 2000 nm.

Unlike existing lasers, the diameter of the microtube can be altered to produce different wavelengths of light. Through piezoelectric coupling or the addition of an insulating layer that leads to a change in lattice spacing, the tube can be made to expand or contract, corresponding to modulated emissions.

Additionally, the microtubes can be anchored in devices with electrodes that cause them to rise and tilt, steering the direction in which their light is given off.
(Jul 29, 2014) P08124US01

Microfluidic Device for Capturing and Analyzing Rare Cells, Including Circulating Tumor Cells

UW-Madison researchers have developed a microfluidic device for concentrating rare cells.  The velocity of flow through the device is manipulated such that particles in suspension, such as cells, are carried to and deposited in a particular location within the device.  The flow in the region where the cells are deposited is slow, so the cells remain in the collection area without any modifications to the surfaces of the device or cells while the fluid that carried them is routed out of the device.  Because particles in suspension enter the collection region but do not leave, many particles may be captured from a relatively dilute suspension.  The cells then can be cultured, stained and imaged for analysis without being removed from the collection area, creating a gentle and efficient way to implement extensive washing and treatment protocols.
(Jul 29, 2014) P100069US01