Technologies

Micro & Nanotech

Micro & Nanotech Portfolios

Most Recent Inventions

Carbon Nanotube Vacuum Field Emission Transistor Design for Large-Scale Manufacturing

Inventors from the Department of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville have created novel transistors by incorporating etched carbon nanotubes into a planar design that is compatible with existing fabrication techniques. In previous studies by others, aligned carbon nanotube transistors have been demonstrated to achieve saturation current that is 1.9 times higher than those that are silicon-based, at an equivalent charge density. In the optimal embodiment of this invention, carbon nanotubes are aligned and feature precise gaps that act as channels to allow the efficient transport of electrons without the need for a vacuum. The anticipated output of this approach will be nanoscale transistors that resist heat and radiation and operate at low voltage and high frequency. To address current challenges with large-scale VFET manufacturing, this technology offers three advantages – the carbon nanotubes can be prefabricated using methods that are already in place, the selective etching process for creating electron channels uses conventional integrated circuit techniques, and the planar design can integrate with existing wafer-based manufacturing methods.
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Photoreceptor Scaffold for In Vitro Modeling and Transplantation Therapy

Using state-of-the-art microfabrication techniques, UW–Madison researchers have developed microstructured scaffold systems that can guide the growth of photoreceptor cells and mimic polarized outer retinal tissue. The scaffolds also may be used for transplantation of organized photoreceptor tissue with or without RPE.

Transplantation of photoreceptor-seeded scaffolds may improve grafted cell retention, survival, integration and functional visual rescue as compared to simple bolus injections. By recapitulating in vivo outer retinal architecture, these uniquely fabricated scaffolds also can be used for in vitro developmental and disease studies as well as drug screening.

The microfabrication process for scaffold production is fully compatible with numerous biomaterials, including biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials, thus allowing the scaffolds to be tailored to both in vitro and in vivo applications. The scaffolds feature biocompatible support layers (e.g., PDMS film) patterned with an array of unique through-holes having a curvilinear cell receiver and cell guide channels. The structure enables photoreceptors to be grown in a polarized orientation that mimics their development in vivo.
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Circulating Tumor Cell Assay Using Simple Blood Draw

The researchers now have developed the first fully integrated CTC assay that could eliminate the need for painful biopsies. The device leverages verIFAST technology to capture, purify and molecularly analyze CTCs from a single blood sample.

The sample is deposited in a first well and then magnetically drawn through a second well containing an isolation buffer like oil or wax. The increasingly purified cells are drawn into a final well for extraction or further treatment.

The device includes new technical features and is combined with downstream techniques for staining rare cells like CTCs.
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Device Uses Air Gap for Easier Fraction Isolation

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new device for isolating desired fractions from a biological sample. The device is made of two plates separated by a gap. The first plate has droplets of bound sample/PMPs positioned on the surface. A second plate containing another reagent is positioned below. A magnet pulls the PMP/sample from the first plate, through the air gap, onto the second plate.
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Fast, Flexible Platform for Handheld Microfluidic Cell Assays

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new microfluidic device design, KOALA, which can perform assays in five-minute steps without reagent waste or time-consuming preparation.

The chip comprises a disengaging lid and base. The lid is networked by channels with protruding inputs while the base features multiple fluid wells and an absorbent pad. When the two components are pressed together, fluid from the wells is drawn into the channel by the pad’s capillary action.

Additional functionalities, like creating gradients with a diffusing source, also are achievable given the design’s passive fluid contact at the channel extremities. Packaged with the reagents and cells required of the assay and enabling encapsulation and freezing, KOALA is an eminently accessible and flexible assay tool.
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Most Recent Patents

Smoother Surfaces with Pulsed Laser Polishing

UW–Madison researchers have developed a two-regime method to reduce rough surface features using a multiple-pass PLP approach.

In the first regime, melt pools are created on the surface using energy pulses, which generate higher temperatures where the beam is focused. Thermocapillary flow pulls down asperities into the melt pools. This can cause material to push up at the edge of the pools as they resolidify. A second regime applies different energy pulses to remove and/or rearrange the upwelled material.
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Streamlined Design for Transferring Analytes

The researchers have now improved their design and developed a microfluidic device that directly integrates with tubes, strip tubes and well plates. In this way a sample can be directly transferred from the device to downstream analysis instruments.

The device comprises a strip of wells that hold various volumes of output fluid. Following sample isolation via the researchers’ previously developed SLIDE technique, the strip containing the sample and output buffer is removed from the SLIDE and applied to a set of strip tubes in the same way that conventional covers would be applied.

Then, by flicking or centrifuging the tubes, the sample is transferred from the cap to the tube. At this point the sample is ready for PCR or other downstream analysis.
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Handheld Cell Maintenance and Assay Device with Functional Microfluidic Lid

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new design for the handling, freezing, thawing and subsequent study of microliter volumes of cell suspensions. Requiring no additional equipment and adaptable to a wide range of conditions, the device is inexpensive to manufacture and preserves the integrity of cells for research.

The platform employs a functionalized lid, enclosed by a microporous membrane and comprising multiple reservoirs into which cell suspensions are loaded. The addition of cryopreservation fluid permits storage. Another flexible membrane encloses the lid’s bottom side and contains a pinhole. Protective tape seals the reservoirs for shipping and containment.

An assay can be performed readily by peeling away the tape on the top side and placing the device in a thawing bath that removes the preservation fluid via dialysis. The tape on the underside then is taken off and pressure on the pinhole membrane dispenses the fluid into another microfluidic platform containing the specific test components.
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