WARF Accelerator Program Technologies

The Accelerator Program selects WARF’s most commercially promising technologies and provides expert assistance and funding to enable achievement of commercially significant milestones. WARF believes that these technologies are especially attractive opportunities for licensing.


ECMO Simulation Device for Hands-On Training and Improved Patient Outcomes

UW–Madison and UW Hospital researchers and clinicians have developed a training device for ECMO procedures that would allow for both cannulation and pulsatile flow hands-on practice. This simulation device is a closed loop system with a large enough fluid capacity to operate actual ECMO systems. Using simulated skin and veins, the clinician can practice feeling for a pulse to locate a vein and then insert the ECMO cannula. The expended simulated tissue and veins are discarded and replaced with new disposable parts. The device can be placed on an actor or integrated into a mannequin to simulate scenarios in the field, hospital or in transit (e.g., ambulance, helicopter).

Genetic Testing for Acquired Peripheral Neuropathy in Dogs

UW–Madison researchers have identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that is predictive of APN syndrome in dogs, based on a genome-wide association study. Using a population of Labrador retrievers (56 cases and 26 controls), the researchers have shown that a SNP on CFA1 tags the causal variant for APN in the Labrador retriever breed.

Research Tool for Protein Conformation Analysis

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method and easy-to-operate device that uses plasma to perform hydroxyl radical footprinting. The device tags the outer surface of the protein and allows the user to study its 3-D conformation via mass spectrometry.

The new technique, which is workable on a benchtop, applicable to a range of protein concentrations and sizes and generates µs bursts of hydroxyl radicals without added chemicals or reagents, has been developed and the results benchmarked. It is useful for quickly performing epitope mapping or assessing protein structural characteristics such as unfolding and conformational changes. The method can be used with two or more distinct proteins to map binding events, which enables pharmaceutical and R&D labs to image proteins in their natural state.

The researchers believe this tool will enable much quicker turnaround (on the order of hours) than X-ray crystallography and more reliable data than Hydrogen-Deuterium Exchange (HDX). It can be manufactured alone or in conjunction with mass spectrometry systems.

Vanadium Dioxide Design Solution for Ultrafast Switches

UW–Madison researchers have designed VO2 heterostructures capable of metal-insulator transition near room temperature in practical thin films. The heterostructures are made of multiple bilayers of V02 engineered to have different rutile-to-monoclinic structural transition temperatures.

The bilayers can be incorporated into a variety of electrical switches including capacitors, planar switches and field effect switches, in integrated circuits for memory devices (e.g., CMOS chips) and communication devices. In each of these devices the conversion of the bilayer from its electrically insulating to conducting metallic state (and vice versa) changes the resistance/conductance of the bilayer, thereby modulating current flow or capacitance.

Effective and Robust Method of T Cell Expansion and Activation

UW–Madison researchers have shown for the first time that the addition of inhibitors which block the binding of BAFF to its receptor BAFF-R/BR3 activates both CD4+ and CD8+ cytolytic T cells such that the killing of target human tumor cell lines is significantly augmented.

Specifically, the researchers demonstrated in vitro that a neutralization antibody to the BAFF receptor, BR3, significantly increased CRTAM+ CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation and their anti-tumor cytotoxic activity via increases in granzyme B. This was shown for even aggressive melanoma cell lines such as A375 whereby a four day co-culture with BR3 neutralized T cells almost completely eradicated the tumor cells from culture. This innovation removes a significant roadblock in the industrial production/manufacture of T cells ex vivo for T cell and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, which is currently one of the most exciting new cancer therapies.

Rechargeable Desalination Battery

UW–Madison researchers have designed a rechargeable desalination cell that can operate on seawater and is capable of performing a desalination/salination cycle with a net potential input as low as 0.2 volts. The cell comprises a sodium-storage electrode coupled to a chloride-storage electrode made of nanocrystalline bismuth foam.

The bismuth-based electrodes are able to store chloride ions in their bulk by oxidizing Bi to BiOCl in the presence of an oxygen source, such as water. Advantageously, BiOCl is insoluble in water over a wide pH range and inert against water oxidation. It also is stable over a wide range of anodic potentials. As a result, the new electrodes can be used for chloride removal in a variety of aqueous sources.

The BiOCl electrode can be converted back to a bismuth electrode by a reduction reaction, where the chloride ions are released into the electrolyte. This reverse reaction allows for the repeated use of the electrode for chloride storage/release via multiple chlorination/dechlorination cycles.

Indoor Navigation System for Mobile Devices

UW–Madison researchers have developed an indoor navigation system using a mobile device equipped with two photodetectors. The system is able to determine the angular position of different light fixtures while avoiding the limitations in bandwidth and sensitivity associated with standard camera detectors. It is suitable for facilities with high ceilings more than three or four meters above the floor

Specifically, the new method can be illustrated in three steps: (i) identify multiple light source signals within the field-of-view according to known light source signatures; (ii) determine the angles of the multiple light sources; and (iii) identify the location of the mobile device based on the angle of the multiple light sources and a known mapping of light sources to locations.

Perovskites as Ultralow Work Function Cathode Materials

Using high-throughput computing and informatics to screen thousands of candidates, UW–Madison researchers have identified a perovskite oxide, SrVO3, with a lower predicted work function than current state-of-the-art cathodes.

SrVO3 exhibited one of the lowest calculated work functions (1.86 eV) out of 18 perovskite materials investigated (~ 40 compositionally distinct surfaces). Non-volatile barium doping was used to further lower the work function (1.07 eV) and was more stable than on tungsten or scandium surfaces, indicating that Ba will reside on SrVO3 orders of magnitude longer than on other widely explored thermionic cathode material surfaces.

Matrix Processor with Localized Memory to Increase Data Throughput

To address this challenge, Li’s team has developed computer architecture combining local memory elements and processing elements on a single integrated circuit substrate. In this way, data stored in a given local memory resource normally associated with a given processing unit is shared among multiple processing units. The sharing may be in a pattern following the logical interrelationship of a matrix calculation (e.g., along rows and columns in one or more dimensions of the matrix).

Sharing reduces memory replication (the need to store a given value in multiple local memory locations), thus reducing the need for local memory and unnecessary transfers of data between local memory and external memory. This permits high speed processing on local memories (on-chip) and reduces energy consumption associated with a calculation.

Inverter for Common Mode Voltage Cancellation

UW–Madison researchers have developed inverter topology in which the CM voltage is 100 percent cancelled. Instead of the two switches in series (as found in conventional designs) the new ‘balanced inverter’ features three switches in series wherein the upper and lower switches of each phase-leg are rated at half the DC bus voltage.

The half-rated switches turn on and off simultaneously. The middle switch of each phase-leg operates complementarily with the other two, and is rated at the full DC bus voltage. This essentially replaces one full voltage-rated switch with two half-rated switches on the top and bottom of each phase.

The new topology cancels the total CM voltage by generating two equal-amplitude, opposite-signed CM voltages on the two sets of three windings. Hence, the whole machine remains at ground potential, and no current will flow to the ground. In addition, to take advantage of the six AC terminals of the balanced inverter, the three phase motor windings need to be equally separated as two sets of windings. This can be done by reconfiguring the series connected machine windings, which is particularly convenient for dual-voltage 9-lead machines.

Boron- and Nitride-Containing Catalysts for Oxidative Dehydrogenation of Small Alkanes and Oxidative Coupling of Methane

UW–Madison researchers have developed improved ODH catalysts for converting short chain alkanes to desired olefins (e.g., propane to propene and ethene) with unprecedented selectivity (>90 percent).

The new catalysts contain boron and/or nitride and minimize unwanted byproducts including CO and CO2. They contain no precious metals, reduce the required temperature of the reaction and remain active for extended periods of time with no need for costly regenerative treatment.

In addition to driving ODH reactions, the new catalysts can be used to produce ethane or ethene via oxidative coupling of methane (OCM).

Slippery Antifouling Surfaces with Health, Environmental and Consumer Applications

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new approach for fabricating and functionalizing SLIPS on objects of arbitrary shape, size and topology (e.g., inside a hollow tube, etc.). The new SLIPS have greater control over how fluids behave when they come in contact. For example, they can be designed with oil-free regions to immobilize fluid droplets and/or control how they slide across the surface.

The new SLIPS are antifouling to bacteria, fungi and mammalian cells, and may be used for the controlled release of antibiotics and to prevent thick liquids or dirt from building up on a surface. They are fabricated via the infusion of oils into reactive polymer multilayers.

“Green” Triboelectric Power Boards Turn Footsteps into Electricity and More

UW–Madison researchers have developed the first TENG device built entirely from biodegradable and green materials. The two active layers comprise cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) or wood fibers chemically treated to alter their electron affinity. CNFs and wood fibers are ideal because they have high surface areas, can be functionalized with a variety of chemical groups and can be formed into flexible and optically transparent films.

Point-of-Care Obstetrical Imaging for Minimally or Untrained Birth Attendants

UW–Madison researchers with expertise in ultrasound technology and maternal-fetal health have designed a simplified, low cost ultrasound device to help minimally or untrained care providers recognize complications in pregnant women and make appropriate referrals. The operator does not need to interpret technical images.

The device is manually swept across the patient’s abdomen; automated algorithms extract critical structural information from these manual sweeps and convert the data into a 3-D model. Sequential estimation techniques are used to assess fetal gestational age, growth, presentation and number, as well as placental location.

The system features three main improvements:
  1. A specialized transducer fits comfortably in the hand, unlike conventional probes.
  2. The easy-to-understand interface guides the operator to move the probe across the patient’s abdomen; sonographic training is not required.
  3. If the device detects potential complications (e.g., if the fetus is malpresented, or the placenta is over the cervix) an alarm/flash will signal that the patient should be evaluated by a trained care provider.

Green Method for Producing 1,5-Pentanediol Slashes Catalyst Cost 10,000-fold

Seeking a commercially viable alternative, UW–Madison researchers have developed a new route for producing 1,5-PD from biomass-derived THFA. Their three-step process is orders of magnitude cheaper than competing methods, green and exceeds 90 percent overall yields.

More specifically the new method includes hydration of THFA to dihydropyran, conversion to 2-hydroxy-tetrahydropyran (no need for a mineral acid catalyst) and subsequent production of 1,5-PD. The entire method can be conducted entirely in the absence of noble metal catalysts.

Location-Aware Communication System for Mobile Devices

UW–Madison researchers have developed a system that can determine the location of a mobile device by analyzing the intensity of the signals from various light fixtures (of known position), adjusted by a measured orientation of the mobile device. This location information may be used to generate dynamic clusters of light fixtures that follow the user, allowing a reduced number of light fixtures to be dedicated to a particular user while reducing shadowing and interruptions during ‘handoff’ between light fixtures.

New Discoveries in Biological Safety: Liquid Crystal Detection of Hazardous Environmental Products

UW–Madison researchers have developed a novel LC-based method and device for accurately detecting low concentrations of volatile organic compounds.

When exposed to a VOC or other target analyte, blue phase-forming compositions consisting of nematic liquid crystals and chiral dopants undergo a response that can be observed with the naked eye, eliminating the need for additional steps. The VOCs can be detected in gaseous and liquid forms, and the sensitivity of the composition can be adjusted by changing the level of dopant concentration as well as adding non-volatile organics as sensitizing agents.

To address the problems of stability and dewetting, the inventors have developed a device that uses LC-phobic surfaces to isolate LC films within the microwells of an array. The LC films have uniform dimensions and are stabilized by capillary forces protecting against shock, gravity, heat and solvent exposure. They can be deposited via high throughput methods such as spin coating.

New Compounds for Treating High Blood Cholesterol and More

UW–Madison researchers have now developed a method using a rhodium-containing catalyst to make indole compounds, specifically cyclopropyl indoles and cyclohepta[b] indoles. The compounds may be developed into new pharmaceuticals to treat a variety of conditions.

Preen Oil: The Nutritional Approach to Chronic Inflammation

UW–Madison researchers have developed methods of using preen oil as a food supplement to treat chronic inflammation in human and non-human animals, birds and fish.

Preen oil may be given orally as a pharmaceutical composition, added to human food products or included in animal, bird or fish food. The fatty acids in the oil accumulate in tissues where they inhibit the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1 and IL-6 and reduce chronic inflammation, including chronic joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases.

Rapid MRI Gradient Calibration Using Single-Point Imaging

UW–Madison researchers have developed a dynamic SPI-based method for MRI systems that allows simple, rapid and robust measurement of k-space trajectory.

To enable gradient measurement, they utilized the variable field-of-view (FOV) property of dynamic SPI, which is dependent on gradient shape. In the process, one-dimensional (1-D) dynamic SPI data are acquired from a targeted gradient axis, and then relative FOV scaling factors between 1-D images or k-spaces at varying encoding times are found. These relative scaling factors are the relative k-space position that can be used for image reconstruction.

The gradient measurement technique also can be used to estimate the gradient impulse response function for reproducible gradient estimation as a linear time invariant system.

Non-Invasive Device for Measuring Stress in Tendons, Ligaments and Muscles

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new device and technique for dynamically, noninvasively and accurately measuring longitudinal stress in tendons, muscles and ligaments in vivo.

The inventors use skin-mounted accelerometers to measure transverse wave speeds in superficial tissues under time-varying loading scenarios. Such wave speed propagation metrics are then used to determine tissue stress based on a wave propagation model.

Synthesizing Natural Products to Treat High Blood Cholesterol

UW–Madison researchers have developed an efficient method to synthesize indole compounds, specifically polysubstituted dimeric indoles. These compounds have potential health benefits because they are able to reduce the amount of PCSK9 in cells. PCSK9 is an enzyme known to play a major role in controlling the concentration of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Some of the compounds have been tested in vitro for their ability to increase the secretion of a potent blood sugar hormone in the body called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Others have the ability to selectively inhibit the secretion of interleukin-17 (IL-17), which is essential in many autoimmune diseases including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease.

The synthesis process involves a cascade reaction with transition metal catalysts. The resulting compounds can be further functionalized to yield more substituted indoles.

3-D Printer for High Quality, Large-Scale Metal Parts

UW–Madison researchers have developed a linear multisource 3-D printer capable of producing large, fully dense metal parts with micron resolution.

The highly practical design employs a mechanically scanned cathode comb, large metal powder bed and vacuum. The design ensures a tightly controlled focal spot size, minimizes the number of beam sources, produces large parts at full density and requires little or no post processing because of the high resolution print head.

Polymer Coating for Cell Culture Substrates

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new crosslinkable polymer coating for cell culture substrates. The nanometer-thin coating is made of glycidyl groups and azlactone groups distributed randomly along the copolymer backbone.

The coating is substrate independent and can be applied to a wide variety of organic and inorganic materials including plastic, silicon, glass and gold.

Middlebox Scaling for the Cloud

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method that efficiently adjusts the number of middleboxes on demand by transferring not only the flows of instructions but their related middlebox states as well. A new transfer process prevents the loss of data packets and preserves order.

Superabsorbent, Sustainable Aerogels

UW–Madison researchers have developed organic aerogels with excellent absorbent properties. They are made by combining a water soluble polymer and cellulose nanocrystals/nanofibers (CNFs) derived from biomass. The polymer, such as PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), is cross-linked to form a gel and then water is removed by freeze-drying. The surface of the aerogel is coated with an organosilane, making it highly water repellent and superoleophilic (‘oil loving’).

Microbes Produce High Yields of Fatty Alcohols from Glucose

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method to produce fatty alcohols such as 1-dodecanol and 1-tetradecanol from glucose using genetically engineered microorganisms. The organism, e.g., a modified E. coli strain, overexpresses several genes (including FadD and a recombinant thioesterase gene, acyl-CoA synthetase gene and acyl-CoA reductase gene). Other gene products are functionally deleted to maximize performance.

The strain is cultured in a bioreactor in the presence of glucose.

Hybrid Heterostructure Light-Emitting Devices

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for fabricating high performance light-emitting devices that does not rely on epitaxial growth or wafer bonding techniques. As a result, the p-type layer of the devices can be fabricated from a much wider range of semiconductor materials (e.g., silicon).

The devices feature a multiple quantum well (MQW) PIN diode structure, and are fabricated using a thin film process or interfaced thin-film process. The devices are composed of multilayered semiconductor heterostructures in which layers of material that allow current tunneling through lattice mismatched heterogeneous junctions are sandwiched between the intrinsic active region and the p-type doped charge injection layers.

Improved CT Imaging with Multisource X-Ray Tube

UW–Madison researchers have developed a compact, multisource X-ray tube for use in CT imaging. The new tubes can deliver high current from an arbitrary number of focal spots. Utilizing a modular design, the tubes may be arranged in a variety of configurations to suit a particular application.

A module consists of a series of electron emitters that can be switched on and off at high frequency, and are directed towards a single stationary target that is actively cooled. A large voltage between the emitters and the target accelerates the electrons to high energy. Upon impact with the target, the electrons produce an X-ray spectrum. An electromagnet is used to ‘sweep’ the multiple electron beams over the cooled target.

In effect, X-rays are generated around a patient in rapid succession, much faster than the mechanical motion of a rotating gantry.

Memory Processing Unit Boosts Performance, Cuts Energy Usage

UW–Madison researchers have developed a system to dramatically improve the benefits of 3-D die-stacking memory. Their system allows a host processor to efficiently offload entire pieces of computation for faster processing with reduced power consumption.

More specifically, memory processing unit cores are tightly coupled with sections of stacked memory layers, combined as memory ‘vaults’ in hardware. Application code is segmented into discrete partitions (‘shards’) in software for storage in the vaults. As a result, an application program is effectively broken up for execution among multiple processing cores in close proximity to memory.

Combatting Parasitic Worms in Livestock and Other Animals

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for treating gastrointestinal worm infections in animals and humans by administering interleukin-10 (IL-10) peptides and antibodies. IL-10 is a natural feed additive that can be ingested. Critically, helminthes have no known mechanism to develop resistance.

Controlling Superconducting Quantum Circuits

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for controlling superconducting quantum circuits. In the new method, quantized voltage pulses generated by SFQ circuits are used to coherently control superconducting quantum systems, such as qubits or resonator cavities.

More specifically, the method utilizes coherent rotations obtained using a pulse-to-pulse spacing timed to the period of the target oscillator. Controlling the system in this way may be achieved in a low-temperature cryostat without the need to apply external microwave electromagnetic signals. Also, the SFQ-based gates are robust against leakage errors and timing jitter, with high fidelities achievable for gate times on the order of tens of nanoseconds.

Minimally Invasive Microwave Ablation Antennas

UW–Madison researchers have developed two minimally invasive, balun-free antenna designs that are small enough to treat cancers otherwise out of the reach of microwave ablation.

The first design can take any base-fed monopole, spiral or bent wire configuration. Alternatively, the antenna can use a structure more suitable for higher frequencies (five GHz to 30 GHz). This design uses cable shielding over a balanced two-wire transmission line. The design protects surrounding tissue and eliminates the need for baluns.

Combined Capacitor/Inductor Reduces Circuit Bulk

A UW–Madison researcher has designed a combination capacitor/inductor configured to share energy storage volumes, thereby significantly reducing the bulk of devices. In essence, the capacitor incorporates into its layers a material of high magnetic permeability (e.g., iron or an iron alloy laminated with a nonferrous metal) so that it may fit into the inductor coil in place of the normal core.

Superior Nanotube Film for High Performance Field Effect Transistors

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method to make high density s-SWCNT film having good nanotube alignment. The film can be incorporated in high performance FETs.

The film is made using a method called dose-controlled, floating evaporative self-assembly. This method uses a thin layer of organic solvent containing solubilized s-SWCNTs that is spread over the surface of an aqueous medium, inducing evaporative self-assembly upon contact with a solid substrate.

The s-SWCNTs are applied in controlled ‘doses,’ which allows for the rapid sequential deposition of narrow films or ‘stripes’ with continuous control over width, density and periodicity. For this reason they are well suited for use as channel materials in FETs having high on-conductance values and high on/off ratios.

Encrypting Intellectual Property Cores

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for encrypting the functional descriptions of IP cores. The encrypted descriptions allow simulation but still obscure the design and operation of the underlying circuit. This provides more flexible testing capabilities while protecting intellectual property.

First, an encryptor receives a description file of the circuit. The encryptor then outputs a description of the underlying IP core in which the nodes or gates of the circuit are replaced with generic placeholder nodes. These placeholders are given encrypted multivalued truth-tables that permit simulation but effectively disguise their function. For example, multiple alias values may hide the logic of the node, or the truth-table may include erroneous entries. The effect is to render the function of the node symbols practically unintelligible.

Sustainable Organic Aerogels for Insulation

UW–Madison researchers have developed hybrid organic aerogels with desirable insulation properties. They are made by combining a water soluble polymer and a carbon nanofiller such as graphene oxide nanosheet with cellulose nanofibrilliated fibers (CNFs) derived from biomass. The organic polymer, such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), is cross-linked to form a gel and water is removed by freeze-drying. The surface of the aerogel can by further modified.

Block Copolymers for Sub-10 Nanometer Lithography

UW–Madison researchers have developed BCPs characterized by high Flory-Huggins interaction parameters (χ). They can self-assemble into domains having very small dimensions, and therefore are extremely useful in lithography.

The new BCPS may be polymerized from PHS monomers or from tert-butyl styrene and 2-vinylpyridine monomers. Overall degree of polymerization (N) can be experimentally controlled so that it’s high enough to form a desired phase (e.g., cylinders, spheres, lamellae, etc.) but low enough to produce very small dimensions.

Stretchable Transistors Using Carbon Nanotube Film

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method of fabricating stretchable transistors with buckled carbon nanotube film as the conductive channel. The new process is much simpler than existing techniques and does not involve complicated lithography.

First, a thin film of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) is applied onto the surface of an elastic substrate, then repeatedly stretched and relaxed, causing the film to buckle. Layers of electrically conducting material are then deposited to form source and drain electrodes. Finally, a stretchable material such as ion gel is deposited to form a gate dielectric between the two electrodes.

Enzyme Aids Intranasal Drug Delivery

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method to enhance intranasal drug absorption using a naturally occurring endopeptidase, called matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9). This enzyme makes the nasal epithelium more permeable to drugs by degrading type IV collagen. Nasal spray or drops containing MMP-9 can be administered at the same time or prior to a drug to improve its absorption.

Transgenic Lignin Easier to Break Down for Biofuel

UW–Madison researchers and others have developed methods to genetically alter the structure of plant lignin to be less resistant to chemical (mostly alkaline) degradation.

They have identified and isolated nucleic acids from the Angelica sinensis plant that encode feruloyl-CoA:monolignol transferase. This enzyme produces lignin rich in CAFA and similar chemicals, and thus contains ester bonds that cleave under relatively mild conditions.

Plant cells can be modified to contain the enzyme gene sequence using standard genetic techniques. Whole plants (and their seeds) then can be generated from these cells.

Sharper Stereotactic Radiosurgery

UW–Madison researchers have developed a waveguide for use with conical radiosurgery collimators. The waveguide can be installed inside the collimator’s bore hole. Resembling a collection of hypodermic needles, the waveguide is made of concentric spacers and hollow cylinders. Its optimized design cuts down on beam blurring and directs radiation into a target volume with high precision.

Inhibiting Storage Browning in Cheese

A UW–Madison researcher has developed a method to inhibit methylglyoxal-mediated cheese browning using a reducing agent. The reducing agent, such as glutathione or sodium sulphite, is added in an effective amount to cheese upon shredding.

Unleashing Biomass Sugars Using Bromine Salt

UW–Madison researchers have developed a process for hydrolyzing lignocellulosic biomass in concentrated aqueous solutions of inorganic bromine salt with a small amount of acid. The process breaks down the lignocellulose material (corn stover, saw dust, hardwood, softwood, etc.) into fermentable sugars without pretreatment.

The reaction works on the raw lignocellulosic biomass for 5-200 minutes at moderate temperatures, hydrolyzing cellulose and hemicellulose and releasing monosaccharides for subsequent biofuel or chemical production. Lignin separates from the product sugars and can be filtered out for use in co-products. The bromine salt, like LiBr or CaBr2, also can be recovered and reused.

GMP Protein Burns Fat, Boosts Bone Strength in Women

UW–Madison researchers have developed dietary approach to increase bone mineralization and fat metabolism in female humans and animals using GMP. The peptide can be isolated from whey using standard methods and administered in an effective amount as a food product, nutraceutical or dietary supplement.

Better Biomass Conversion with Recyclable GVL Solvent

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for producing soluble C6 and C5 carbohydrate oligomers and monomers from biomass. These include glucose, xylose and other sugars.

In the process, lignocellulosic material is reacted with water and gamma-valerolactone (GVL) – an organic solvent derived from biomass. This occurs in the presence of an acid catalyst under moderate temperatures, and results in the conversion of water-insoluble to water-soluble carbohydrates. These desired products are partitioned into an aqueous layer, where they can be recovered, concentrated and purified. The GVL separates into another layer to be recycled.

Enhanced Biomass Digestion with Wood Wasp Bacteria

UW–Madison researchers have derived preparations from ActE secretions that highly degrade lignocellulose. The bacteria can be obtained from Sirex noctilio wasps and grown on a substrate containing mostly cellulose, hemicelluloses, xylan, wood or non-wood biomass, and chitin. The substrate may be pretreated for better results. The ActE are grown aerobically to maximize the secretion of both oxidative and hydrolytic enzymes capable of rapid deconstruction of matter. The secretions can be purified and added directly to biomass slurry.

Hibiscus Cannabinus Gene Discovery to Enable Altered Plant Lignin

Building on their work, the researchers have identified a gene that appears to have arisen independently during evolution in a different plant species (kenaf, or Hibiscus cannabinus). The gene produces a feruloyl-CoA: monolignol transferase (FMT) enzyme that could be harnessed to make modified, readily cleavable lignin.

Incorporation of FMT nucleic acids and/or polypeptides in plants can simplify the processes used for making biofuels and paper. Other cloned or isolated enzymes with these beneficial properties are not currently available.

New Framework Helps Compose and Scale Middlebox Software Modules for Cloud Computing

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new methodology for managing these challenges. Called Stratos, the framework recognizes middleboxes as first-class entities in cloud infrastructures – centralizing and automating configuration, management, scaling and placement of middleboxes – empowering end users to easily secure and optimize their applications.

Patch for Delivering Therapeutic Cells into Heart

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new epicardial patch derived from cardiac-specific cells that can adhere to the heart without glue or sutures. The patch may be preloaded with stem cells, skeletal myoblasts or any other potentially therapeutic cell to treat injured or damaged hearts.

The patch is made of isolated three-dimensional cardiac extracellular matrix (ECM). Its composition mimics natural cardiac ECM. Along with other components, it is made up largely of the structural proteins fibronectin, collagen and elastin.

Natural Feed Additive Combats Gastrointestinal Infection in Livestock and Poultry

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for treating and maintaining healthy growth in animals infected with gastrointestinal protozoa using interleukin-10 (IL-10) peptides and antibodies.

Incorporating standard techniques, blood serum or eggs produced from hens vaccinated with IL-10 peptide vaccines can be obtained and dried to form an antibody-containing powder. The egg, yolk or serum powder may be added to animal feed in an appropriate amount to transfer the antibodies.

Electrically Small, Super-Directive Antennas Inspired by Insect Anatomy

A UW–Madison researcher has developed an electrically small array that converts super-resolving antennas to super-directive antennas by utilizing a phase shifter. The resolution enhancement increases the total amount of collected power and the overall signal-to-noise output.

The receiver system includes two antennas and a processing circuit with a differential phase shifter (DPS). The second antenna receives a signal, which then is phase shifted as a function of its angle of incidence relative to the array’s boresight axis. An output signal can be configured by combining the phase-shifted signal with the first antenna’s original signal.

Three distinct DPS methods can achieve the same result. Active DPS can be implemented using a mixer, filters, amplifiers and voltage controlled phase shifter. Direct DPS is another analog process, while digital DPS samples and processes the antenna signals digitally.

High-Symmetry, Bicontinuous Lyotropic Liquid Crystals with Percolating Nanoscale Domains

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new class of anionic Gemini amphiphiles based on aliphatic carboxylic acids that exhibit a strong propensity to form G-phase LLC assemblies in an aqueous solution. Moreover, these G-phases are broadly stable between 25 and 100 degrees Celsius and across a wide range of amphiphile concentrations (up to 20 weight percent).

The LLC-forming material comprises water or another polar solvent and an anionic Gemini (“twin tail”) surfactant containing at least one carboxylate moiety. This scaffold furnishes ready access to useful, high-symmetry Q-phase LLCs having well-defined pore wall functionalities that can be readily tuned by chemical synthesis for specific applications.

One- and Two-Phase Conversion of Biomass to Furfural

UW–Madison researchers have developed monophasic and biphasic systems to produce furfural from the C5 sugar fraction of biomass utilizing GVL, itself a product of the reaction, as a solvent. Both methods result in furfural that can be directly distilled out of, or converted into, GVL.

In the monophasic method, a single reaction medium comprises GVL and an acid such as nitric, sulfuric, or solid acid zeolite to minimize the use of water and eliminate the separation step required of mineral acids. Into this solution is introduced pretreated biomass xylose or hemicellulose. The GVL acts as a reaction solvent. By reducing or removing water from the process, less leaching of acid sites occurs and a significantly higher yield of furfural is produced.

The biphasic, or two-layered, method also utilizes GVL, but as an extraction solvent in the form of a suspended organic layer. The lower phase contains an aqueous, acidic solution with a solute such as sodium chloride or fructose. The saturated biomass material dehydrates into furfural, which spontaneously partitions into the upper GVL layer, thereby preventing further degradation via mineral acid catalysis in the aqueous phase.

Consumer-Friendly Test for Detecting Very Small Amounts of Bacteria or Other Cells

UW–Madison researchers have developed a novel method for detecting very low levels of bacteria or other cells. In this method, which is suitable for over-the-counter use by consumers, the aggregation of nanoparticles indicates the absence of the target, rather than the presence of the target as in commercially available tests.

The method uses a bifunctional linker. One portion of the linker binds to a target, while a second portion facilitates aggregation of nanoparticles. When the linker is bound to the target, little nanoparticle aggregation occurs. When the target is absent, the linker is available to facilitate aggregation of the nanoparticles. This aggregation can be observed through visual or other means, providing a simple yet sensitive method for detecting pathogenic microorganisms.

New Method for Direct Patterning in Block Copolymer Lithography

UW–Madison researchers have designed a polymer brush that may be used in underlying buffer or imaging layers for block copolymer lithography. These low molecular weight block copolymers (brushes) can be anchored to substrate surfaces to provide a non-preferential buffer layer for the assembly of higher molecular weight block copolymer thin films. The higher lithographic sensitivity of the brushes allows for shorter processing time and a reduction in the number of steps involved with the assembly process. It also allows for more predictable control over the contrast in chemical pattern and provides a lower defect density in the assembled BCP.

This discovery combines bottom-up and top-down approaches into a single system involving depositing a block copolymer solution on a patterned buffer or imaging layer on a substrate and then inducing the BCPs to separate into domains. The direct patterning and assembly approach presents notable simplification with regards to BCP processing. 

Lignin from Transgenic Poplar Is Easier to Process

UW–Madison researchers and others have developed genetically modified poplars with lignin that is less resistant to alkaline degradation.

Having previously identified and isolated the gene for FMT, the researchers introduced the nucleic acid sequence into poplar tissue. The enzyme produced lignin rich in monolignol ferulates, including coniferyl ferulate and sinapyl ferulate. The transformed lignin thus contained ester bonds that cleaved under relatively mild ammonia conditions.

The poplar cells were modified using standard genetic techniques.

Cost-Saving Dairy Protein Separation Method

UW–Madison researchers have discovered that charged ultrafiltration membranes can be used to make separated dairy proteins of chromatographic purity without the need for sophisticated chromatography equipment, water or buffers. The method makes use of ultrafiltration membrane systems common in essentially every dairy processing facility worldwide.

After modifying the pH of the protein solution, the charged ultrafiltration membrane repels the charged proteins that are not of interest, and allows the protein of interest to freely pass through. The researchers made the surprising discovery that membranes having a pore size rating of 150-500 kDa can be used to fractionate dairy proteins much smaller in size such as GMP, ALA and beta-lactoglobulin. Purity and yields up to 98 percent can be attained using the new method.

Large-Area, Nanoperforated Graphene Materials for Semiconducting Applications

UW–Madison researchers have developed methods to fabricate nanoperforated graphene by etching periodic arrays of nanoscale holes into graphene sheets. The features of the periodic array of holes, including diameter, spacing and constrictions between holes, can be fabricated with dimensions smaller than 20 nm and are designed to provide an electronic band gap of at least 100 meV.

The methods comprise forming an etch mask that defines a periodic array of holes over single or multiple layers of graphene material that has been grown or deposited onto a support material. A perforated structure is formed by depositing and patterning the masking layer onto the graphene via a pattern-defining block copolymer, which may also include a wetting and a neutral layer. Once patterned, the graphene is etched to form interconnected graphene strips that behave as semiconductors with a sufficient band gap. The method provides control over the size and pattern of the holes, which allows the material to be tailored for specific material properties and applications.

Microcellular Foamed Plastics with Reduced Cost and Improved Surface Quality

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for fabricating injection molded components with higher quality and lower cost than conventional techniques. The method uses a liquid such as water combined with a nucleating agent such as commonly used additives or fillers to generate bubbles. The liquid is added into a hopper of an injection molding machine and combined with the nucleating agent. The liquid turns into a vapor during injection, which forms bubbles within the injection molded components. The nucleating agent acts to reduce bubble size and increase bubble density, resulting in finer surface quality in the molded parts. The method allows production of foamed plastic parts with a comparable weight reduction and similar mechanical properties as conventional microcellular foaming techniques with improved surface finish and reduced cost.

Method for the Growth of Uniform 3-D Nanorod Networks

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method for growing 3-D nanorod networks in 3-D spaces, including highly confined spaces. The method is derived from atomic layer deposition (ALD), a state-of-the-art approach that has a growth rate independent of the precursor concentration owing to its self-limiting surface reaction. In this technique, however, higher temperatures and extended pulsing and purging times are implemented to allow networks of nanorods to grow uniformly along the inner surfaces of confined growth spaces.

The method begins by exposing a substrate in a growth chamber to precursor molecules at an elevated temperature, initiating a reaction. Next, the growth chamber is purged of the first precursor and exposed to a second precursor. This initiates a second reaction, after which the growth chamber is purged of the second precursor. These steps are repeated using exposure temperatures and durations such that the reactions result in layer-by-layer atomic construction of crystalline nanostructures within the growth chamber. The resultant interlinking structure may be extensive enough to form a nanostructure capable of maintaining its structural integrity even if the substrate is selectively removed. This is the first and only technique available to grow uniform 1-D nanostructures in 3-D confined spaces.

Fatty Acid-Producing Microbes for Generating Medium- and Long-Chain Hydrocarbons

UW–Madison researchers have developed genetically modified E. coli that are capable of overproducing fatty acid precursors for medium- to long-chain hydrocarbons. The modified bacteria were transformed with exogenous nucleic acids to increase the production of acyl-ACP or acyl-CoA, reduce the catabolism of fatty acid products and intermediates, and/or reduce feedback inhibition at specific points in the biosynthetic pathway.

The modified bacteria can be cultured in the presence of sugars to produce fatty acids. The fatty acid products formed during fermentation then can be separated from the fermentation media via a two-phase separation process or other method. The separated products can be used directly or as feedstock for subsequent reactions, including conversion to medium- and long-chain hydrocarbons.

Electrically-Small, Super-Resolving Antennas and Arrays

UW–Madison researchers have developed a small-scale electromagnetic antenna array capable of resolving the direction of arrival of an electromagnetic wave using principles based in nature. The design is based on directional hearing in insects that have two ears with minimal space between them. These insects use small differences in the time of arrival of sound between their two ears and amplify these minute differences to detectable levels.

This electrically-small antenna array design is a second-order coupled resonator network that includes two antenna inputs and two outputs. The design allows directional sensitivity by increasing the small phase difference between the almost-identical input signals. This allows the sensitivity pattern of the small array to become significantly more directional than that of a regular receiving array occupying the same area. Achieving the same sensitivity and output phases from regular arrays is only possible if the array size is increased and more antenna elements are used, making this an ideal design for small antenna arrays.

Prioritized Data Mapping to Recover High Usefulness Data for Improved Wireless Communications

UW-Madison researchers have developed a wireless communication system with a physical transmitter that transmits symbols mapped to multiple bits under an encoding system that allows data in an incorrectly received symbol to be salvaged. This encoding system exploits predictable expectations in error rates of different bit positions of symbols to promote transmission of high usefulness data. By placing the high usefulness data preferentially in bit positions that have fewer errors, the likelihood that high usefulness data can be recovered even after symbol errors occur is increased. The system recovers data by harvesting a portion of the bits of erroneous symbols rather than discarding the bits.

The entire system consists of a transmitter, a prioritizer, an encoder and an interleaver. The wireless transmitter transmits the symbols. The prioritizer divides received multibit data units into categories of relatively high and low usefulness, and creates mixed multibit data units made up of high and low usefulness bits. The encoder maps the mixed multibit data units to symbols and provides the symbols to the transmitter for transmission. The interleaver and encoder work together to map high usefulness bits to positions within the symbols having lower data error rates.

Improved Delivery of Rich Media Content over Wireless Networks

UW-Madison researchers have developed a wireless system that provides a new approach for media delivery using existing systems, such as the 802.11 wireless protocol. This approach, which is achieved through simple software changes, promises to improve the delivery of HD media over wireless networks and enhance the user experience.

The system identifies priorities of data units and assigns physical transmission parameters based on usefulness of the data. The usefulness of each data unit is used to control the transmitter parameters for the data unit. These parameters include the transmission rates of the bits of the data unit, the order of transmission of the data units and/or the number of retransmission attempts of the data units. This system provides both an ordering and a quantitative difference in usefulness between data units, permitting adjustment of the transmission parameters for different data units and a simple method of scheduling data units for transmission.

Hybrid Analog-Digital Transceiver for Enhanced Wireless Communications

UW-Madison researchers have developed a hybrid analog-digital wireless transceiver architecture that improves wireless link capacity while providing gains in power and bandwidth efficiency. The improved transmitter system, known as a continuous aperture phased MIMO (CAP MIMO) system, employs a signal processor, a plurality of feed elements and an aperture. The hybrid architecture provides the lowest complexity analog-digital interface.

The system integrates analog and digital processing rather than employing only digital processing. The signal processor is configured to simultaneously receive digital data streams and transform them into analog signals. A number of the digital data streams are selected for transmission to a single receive antenna based on the transmission environment. The feed elements are configured to receive the analog signals, and in response, to radiate radio waves toward the aperture. The aperture is configured to receive the radiated radio waves and radiate a second plurality of radio waves toward the single receive antenna in response. This allows independent data streams for typically disjointed communication modes. The result is an improved wireless communication system with high power efficiency, high wireless capacity and improved bandwidth efficiency.

An Injectable Nanovehicle for a Cancer Treatment Combination of Paclitaxel, Rapamycin and 17-AAG

A UW-Madison inventor has developed a novel, nontoxic nanoformulation of multiple anticancer agents.  This nanoformulation consists of rapamycin, paclitaxel and 17-AAG, encapsulated by safe PEG-b-PLA micelles. 

These polymeric micelles can be used to safely and effectively deliver multiple active agents, including therapeutics that are poorly soluble in water, enabling the simple, sterile and synergistic delivery of paclitaxel, rapamycin and 17-AAG.  The combination of paclitaxel, rapamycin and 17-AAG is particularly effective because it targets the PI3-AKT-mTOR pathway, a common deregulated pathway in cancer, leading to disruption at both AKT and mTOR.

β-cyclodextrin Removes Off-Flavors from Soy Protein, Increases Flavor Stability

UW–Madison researchers have developed an efficient and cost-effective method for removing residual phospholipids from soy protein.  This method solves the off-flavor problem in soy and other proteins derived from oilseeds. 

While in solution, protein is contacted with a cyclodextrin, preferably a β-cyclodextrin.  The β-cyclodextrin forms a complex with the phospholipids in the protein.  The complex then can be separated from the remaining protein.  A sonicating step and/or enzyme pretreatment with a lipid hydrolase such as phospholipase A2 may be used to maximize phospholipid removal.

High Power, High Efficiency Quantum Cascade Lasers with Reduced Electron Leakage

UW-Madison researchers have developed a deep-well QCL in which the active region has barriers that are taller than those in the injector region and increase in height from the injection barrier to the exit barrier. This design significantly reduces the electron leakage, while maintaining the same laser-transition efficiency as in conventional QCLs. The threshold current at room temperature decreases by about 25 percent compared to that for conventional QCLs. The combination of low threshold-current values and virtually suppressed electron leakage leads to significantly higher front-facet or single-facet CW wallplug efficiencies (e.g., about 22 percent) at room temperature. As a result, QCLs operating at higher CW powers with higher CW wallplug efficiency as well as significantly better long-term reliability can be achieved.

Cranberry Variety Trade Named "Sundance," with Large Berry Size and Favorable Bud Set Traits

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new variety of cranberry with the trade name “Sundance.” This variety was developed through a cross of the “Stevens” cultivar and a seedling selection of “Ben Lear” that offers significantly improved traits over its “Ben Lear” parent. “Sundance” is superior to the predominant cranberry cultivar “Stevens” in fruit size, overall coloration, yield potential and flower bud set. Also, under high crop loads, “Sundance” tolerates high levels of fertilizer to improve yield and flower bud set without causing excessive vine growth. Researchers believe that the improved fruit quality of “Sundance,” specifically larger size and solid cell structure, will result in an improved variety for sweetened dried cranberry production.

Growers interested in this cranberry variety should license the variety from WARF and obtain vines from one of the approved propagators listed below. The license between WARF and the grower must be in place before vines can be obtained.
  • Cranberry Creek Cranberries Inc.
  • Dempze Cranberry Co.

Improving Biomass Conversion Efficiency by Modifying Lignin so Plant Cell Walls Are More Digestible and Fermentable

Wisconsin researchers have demonstrated that lignin may be engineered to be more digestible and fermentable by structurally altering the lignin so its monomer complement incorporates coniferyl and/or sinapyl ferulate. This allows biomass polysaccharides to be utilized more efficiently and sustainably, which should reduce inputs for energy, pressure vessel construction and bleaching during papermaking, and lessen pretreatment and enzyme costs associated with biomass conversion.

High-Yielding Method for Converting Biomass to Fermentable Sugars for Biofuel Production

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new method for degrading lignocellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars.  This simple, high-yielding chemical process, which involves the gradual addition of water to a chloride ionic liquid, enables crude biomass to serve as the sole source of carbon for a scalable biorefinery.

In this method, biomass is mixed with a cellulose-dissolving ionic liquid and heated to form a solution or gel.  Then water and an acid catalyst are added and the resulting mixture is heated, typically to 105°C.  At specified time intervals, more water is added to the mixture until it contains more than 20 percent water by weight.  At this point, the mixture contains free sugars such as xylose and glucose and unhydrolyzed carbohydrate polymers, which often are not dissolved.  The insoluble materials, acid and ionic liquids are separated from the soluble sugars.  The soluble sugars then can serve as the sole carbon source for microorganisms such as E. coli KO11, an ethanologen.

Liquid Crystal-Based Assay for Rapid and Precise Detection of Endotoxin in the Presence of Masking Agents

UW–Madison researchers have developed methods and devices for the simple and low cost, yet rapid, sensitive and selective detection of endotoxin in the presence of masking agents. Their assay uses micrometer-sized droplets of liquid crystal dispersed in aqueous solution. When a sensor containing the liquid crystal droplets is exposed to a solution containing endotoxin, the alignment of the liquid crystals quickly changes. This change in alignment is unaffected by common cations, surfactants, buffers or chelating agents and can be detected easily using polarized light or other means.

Antenna-Based Power Generation with Nanoscale Rectifying Elements

UW-Madison researchers have developed a new power generation structure based on the quantum mechanics of nanostructures. A coupled pair of nanopillars serves as the rectifier in a rectenna for power generation. The rectified electromagnetic signal is used to transfer electrons, which leads to the buildup of voltage. Embedding these nanoscale rectifiers in broadband antennas creates rectennas with the ability to scavenge energy from the radio frequency to optical frequency range. Rectennas with nanoscale power generation devices have the potential to be used as a universal power source.

Microfluidic Device for Rapid Nucleic Acid Isolation and Purification

UW-Madison researchers have developed a microfluidic device and method for rapidly extracting and purifying nucleic acids from biological materials. The device includes an input zone for receiving the biological sample, a phase-gate zone for holding an isolation buffer and an output zone for receiving a reagent. The isolation buffer consists of oil that acts as a phase-gate and prevents unwanted material from passing through to the output well. The device employs an isolation mechanism using paramagnetic particles (PMPs), which preferentially bind the nucleic acids, and a lysis buffer, which inhibits the polymerase chain reaction until the nucleic acids have been isolated.

The isolation method proceeds through three main steps. First, the lysis buffer and PMPs are added to the biologic sample in the input well. Then, a magnetic field is used to draw the bound nucleic acid/PMPs through the phase-gate and into the output well, a process that lasts around 15 seconds. This simple phase-gate step replaces the multiple washes required in current methods. Finally, the nucleic acid/PMP reagent is collected for processing via polymerase chain reactions.

The device and method are configured to maximize isolation and purification of nucleic acids while maintaining compatibility with existing multiwell plates and liquid-handling robotic systems. Isolation and purification using this invention can be accomplished in approximately five minutes, including separation, device loading and sample collection. This provides a vast improvement over current kits, which require multiple washing steps and 15 to 45 minutes for purification.

Modular Peptide Binds to Biomaterials and Promotes New Bone Formation

UW–Madison researchers have developed a novel approach for linking growth factors to the surface of an HA-coated biomaterial.  Their approach uses a modular peptide design with two functional units: a biologically active growth factor portion that can initiate osteogenesis, angiogenesis or osteogenic differentiation and a binding portion that improves the non-covalent binding of the peptide to “bone-like” HA-based biomaterials.  These modular peptides can be used to coat, or “decorate,” biomaterials, providing an improved method of delivering growth factors to skeletal defects.

SmartRE: A Framework for Coordinated Network-Wide Caching

UW-Madison researchers have developed an apparatus for efficiently reducing redundant network transmissions in a network.  This new caching framework supports RE operations while conserving resources and improving load sharing across the network. 

Throughput of redundancy-aware devices can be increased by intelligently allocating compression and decompression responsibilities across a network.  The apparatus avoids repeated compression-decompression actions along a series of routers using an implicit coordination scheme, which reduces the resources used by the operation.  Resource conservation is magnified in that each decompression saves the transfer of content across several routers in the network.

Improved Molecule Mass Detection Using Electron Field Emission from Kinetically Impacted Membranes

A UW-Madison researcher has developed an active detector and method for sensing molecules based on the generation of electrons through field emission (FE) and/or secondary electron emission (SEE).  This device is capable of detecting large molecules at higher temperatures than previous devices.

The detector is made of a semiconductor membrane, such as silicon or silicon nitride, with an “external” and “internal” surface.  The external surface contacts the desired molecules, and the internal surface is made of a thin electron emitting layer.  Kinetic energy from the molecules is absorbed through the external surface to the internal surface via vibrational quanta, which cause electrons to be emitted from the internal surface.  The emitted electrons then can be detected by an electron detector. 

Any material that emits electrons via FE or SEE can be used on the internal surface, including highly doped semiconductors and doped diamond materials.  The electron emitting layer can be electrically biased to enhance FE or SEE.

Efficient, Lower Cost Chemical Transformation of Lignocellulosic Biomass into Fuels and Chemicals

UW-Madison researchers have developed a relatively low cost, high yielding method for converting sugars, starches and cellulosic biomass into furans, such as HMF or furfural.  They found that that using N,N-dimethylacetamide-lithium chloride (DMA−LiCl) as a solvent enables the efficient synthesis of HMF or furfural in a single step from carbohydrates and even lignocellulosic biomass. The HMF then can be converted to the fuel component 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF) via hydrogenolysis, while the furfural can be converted to furan via decarbonylation.

This simple chemical transformation could become a highly attractive process for the conversion of biomass into an array of fuels and chemicals.  The method can utilize untreated lignocellulosic biomass, such as corn stover, poplar wood or switch grass.  It is relatively rapid and high yielding, and takes place under moderate conditions (ambient pressure and temperature less than 200 °C).  In addition, the conversion of cellulose to HMF or furfural is not hindered by the presence of other biomass components, such as lignin or protein.

Post-Processing MRI Fat Suppression Method to Enhance Image Quality and Improve Medical Diagnostics

UW–Madison researchers have developed a post-processing technique to improve fat and water suppression in images reconstructed from VIPR-SSFP data acquired by the previous method. The improved processing method, termed Dual Acquisition Phase Difference SSFP, acquires two echo signals which are combined in a second cancellation step after initial VIPR-SSFP data reconstruction. First, the phase of one echo is shifted and combined with the second echo in a process that transforms the radial data to Cartesian coordinates as in the previously developed method, which is known as Linear Combination SSFP. The second step involves application of a phase mask, derived from the echoes’ phase difference, to the reconstructed image. The additional phase difference mapping provides fat signal cancellation across a wide range of off-resonance frequencies centered about the fat resonance peak.

The improved dual acquisition technique allows for reconstruction of fat or water suppressed images in shorter scan time, at higher resolution or at higher signal-to-noise ratio. Utilizing the SSFP method to reduce scan times will increase patient comfort and throughput as well as minimize motion artifacts. The improved resolution and signal-to-noise ratio also enhance the quality of MR images, which will facilitate the applicability of this technology in standard medical diagnostics, especially breast exams.

Vertical Cavity Light Sources Based on Stacked Membranes

UW–Madison researchers in collaboration with researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a system and method to fabricate vertical cavity light-emitting sources that utilize patterned membranes as reflectors. The vertical cavity light-emitting sources have a stacked structure that includes an active region placed between an upper reflector and a lower reflector. The active region and upper and lower reflectors can be fabricated from single or multilayered thin films of solid state materials or membranes, which can be processed separately and stacked to form a vertical cavity light-emitting source. As a result, the vertical cavity light-emitting sources can be compact, with thickness smaller than 3 µm.

The use of patterned membranes as reflectors makes it possible to eliminate thick mirror reflectors from the vertical cavity light-emitting source structure, which facilitates high-density array fabrication on a single substrate. In addition, by tailoring the structural parameters of the patterned membranes, different vertical cavity light-emitting sources in an array can be tailored to produce different output radiation wavelengths from ultraviolet through far-infrared.

Improved Methods for Producing Low-Cost Protein-Polysaccharide Conjugates for Use in Foods and Beverages

UW–Madison researchers have developed novel methods of producing protein-polysaccharide complexes using a wet heat treatment.  The process involves heating aqueous solutions containing protein in the presence of a polysaccharide with a reducing sugar.  High concentrations of a stabilizing polysaccharide, such as dextran, are used to prevent unwanted protein denaturation. The resulting PPCs exhibit improved thermal stability, more desirable color and excellent emulsifying properties.  They are superior to both unmodified protein and gum Arabic.

Pipelined Lookup Grid Architecture (PLUG)–Fast, Cool and Flexible Network Processing

UW-Madison researchers have developed Pipelined LookUp Grid (PLUG) as a component that can accommodate many types of lookup operations performed by network equipment while processing traffic.  PLUGs offer a hybrid of storage and computation functions to address the energy efficiency and performance requirements of network devices.

PLUGs provide a specialized circuit for performing lookup operations in which the memory of a lookup table is divided into “tiles.”  The connections between these tiles may be flexibly changed to match the particular problem being addressed.  When a tree-type lookup is preferred, such as with IP addresses, the tiles can be configured into a tree structure.  Conversely, when a hash table is preferred, such as in Ethernet-type lookups, the tiles can be reconfigured in parallel ranks suitable for hash tables.  The ability to programmably configure individual memory elements allows the router to flexibly move between protocols and to manage lookup decisions at a phenomenally high rate (1 to 1.5 billion decisions per second).

Efficient and Automated Analysis of Thin Structures to Enhance Engineering 3-D Modeling Software

UW-Madison researchers have developed a new technology for a fully automated and efficient analysis of thin structures.  The new process overcomes the limitations of conventional geometric reduction and 3-D FEA by providing a dual-representation, in which the geometry is captured in 3-D, but the physics of the structure are captured via classic beam, plate or shell theory. 

The integration of 3-D geometry and lower-dimensional physics leads to numerous advantages:
  1. The technology can be directly integrated into 3-D CAD systems.
  2. The 3-D CAD model need not be simplified or dimensionally reduced prior to analysis.
  3. A boundary triangulation of the CAD model is sufficient for analysis, i.e., a 3-D mesh is not required.
  4. It retains the ability to achieve the accuracy of modern lower-dimensional beam, plate and shell methods.
This process is particularly well-suited for analyzing thin structures since it offers the flexibility and generality of 3-D FEA and the computational efficiency and accuracy of beam, plate or shell analysis.  The new method and system will streamline 3-D structural analysis in many fields of engineering design because this process can be incorporated into traditional CAD software via conventional integration techniques. 

A Photopatternable Layer for Controlling Block Copolymer Microdomain Orientation

UW-Madison researchers have developed a surface modification chemistry that uses thin polymer films to control the orientation of BCP microdomains on different types of substrates.

A substrate is coated with a photo- or thermally-crosslinkable polymer film composed of three monomers.  In contrast to conventional BCP structures, the film is substrate independent and does not require high temperatures to induce crosslinking.  It can be ultrathin (two to six nm) to facilitate pattern transfer in bottom-up device fabrication.  And if a photo-crosslinkable film is used, alternate regions of the substrate may be photo-patterned by exposing only some regions of the polymer to light.

After crosslinking is induced in the polymer film, a patterned diblock copolymer film is disposed over it.  The BCPs then self-assemble into a pattern determined by the ratio of monomers in the underlying polymer film.  The pattern may include BCP microdomains oriented perpendicular or parallel to the substrate surface.  The domains may comprise cylinders, lamellae or other structures.

Robust and Improved Surfaces for Biological Microarrays That Reduce Nonspecific Binding

A UW-Madison researcher has developed a robust coating for use in microarrays. This reactive polymer coating has a high mechanical stability, binding-site density and signal-to-noise ratio. It can be formed readily on many substrates and may also be patterned to control the localization and density of the target molecules.

The coating consists of a cross-linked epoxy-functional copolymer film. The copolymers incorporate at least two sets of polymerized monomers. The first set, which contains epoxide groups, reacts with the target molecules to immobilize them on the film. The second set contains photo-cross-linkable groups, which are used to cross-link the copolymers into a stable film. Using different monomers to provide the cross-linking and target binding functions allows each function to be controlled and optimized independently.

Methods and Compositions for Treating Prostate Cancer Using DNA Vaccines

UW-Madison researchers have developed a new approach for inducing an immune response to a protein critical in the progression of prostate cancer. Their approach utilizes a DNA vaccine directed against the androgen receptor (AR). The invention describes the generation and administration of a DNA plasmid containing all or select portions of the AR gene in order to elicit an immune response in a mammal, including in a human.

Improved Sensor Enables Sensitive Detection of Large Molecules in Mass Spectrometry

UW-Madison researchers have developed a new type of sensor for use in a mass spectrometer. Because this sensor does not require the molecule of interest to generate a secondary electron for detection, it avoids the size limit and is capable of detecting larger molecules with more sensitivity than currently available technology.

This device consists of a thin membrane with nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS) pillar resonators distributed in an array fashion on its inner surface. The membrane is set in motion to cause the pillar resonators to vibrate. The vibrational state of these pillars controls the spatial distribution of the electrons that are emitted. Then the molecule of interest interacts with the receiving surface of the membrane, changing the resonance frequency of at least one pillar and altering the electron emission. To sense the molecule, this change can be detected using a fluorescent film or other method.

Method for Improving Performance in a Sparse Multipath Environment Using Reconfigurable Arrays

UW-Madison researchers have developed a wireless communication system and method that use reconfigurable multi-element antenna arrays to support improved performance in sparse multipath environments that are commonly encountered in practice. To maximize the information capacity of a wireless link, the antenna spacings are systematically adapted at the transmitter and/or receiver arrays based on the sparsity of the multipath environment and the operating signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The method involves two basic steps: 1) channel sounding or estimation at a critical antenna spacing to determine the number of spatial degrees of freedom (DoF) available for communication, and 2) adjusting the antenna spacing at the transmitter and receiver as a function of the estimated number of DoF and the operating SNR to optimize the capacity of the wireless link at that SNR.

TTNPB Analogs Useful for Preventing or Treating Cancer

UW-Madison researchers have developed less toxic TTNPB analogs for the prevention or treatment of breast cancer. One such analog, 4-HBTTNPB, inhibits the proliferation of tumor cells. Because it binds poorly to the retinoic acid receptor and the retinoic X receptor, it is less likely to cause adverse side effects than TTNPB.

Full Coverage Spray and Drainage System for Orientation-independent Removal of High Heat Flux

UW-Madison researchers have developed an improved spray cooling system and method for cooling electronic circuitry in high-performance computers and other similar systems. The method involves directing a spray of cooling fluid onto the surface of a chip at an angle. The cooling fluid then flows in one direction along the circuitry toward the drainage point(s). Directing the spray along the chip with high momentum allows the system to be portable, because a uniform layer of coolant is maintained even when the orientation of the system varies. The cooling fluid is efficiently delivered by several fan-shaped sprays that are positioned to cover the entire heated surface without allowing interaction between the spray plumes that could otherwise lead to coolant buildup and poor heat transfer.

Multi-Functional Matrix to Promote Wound Healing and for Other Biomedical Applications

Using Biofunctionalized Biomaterials to Recapitulate Tissue Structure Lost Due to Trauma or Underlying Disease to Improve Healing
UW–Madison researchers have developed semi-interpenetrating networks (sIPNs), a platform material that mimics the extracellular matrix and allows delivery of factors like therapeutic cells that promote healing to the wound bed. The sIPNs use a multi-functional hydrogel as a scaffold for damaged tissues. The polymer material consists of a biochemically-modified and cross-linked gelatin matrix, onto which are grafted various heterodifunctional polyethylene glycols (hPEGs). The hPEGs increase the biocompatibility and durability of the hydrogel and also provide attachment sites for therapeutic molecules. The biodegradable matrix allows for temporally and spatially controlled delivery of bioactive signals to modulate and complement the dynamics of the wound healing process, making these materials functional and clinically viable as wound dressings.

Compounds to Treat Hyperlipidemia and Fatty Liver Disease

UW–Madison researchers and collaborators have developed compounds that can be used to prevent fatty liver disease resulting from MTP inhibitors. The compounds selectively inhibit the liver-specific isoform of fatty acid binding protein (L-FABP). Suppression of L-FABP activity has been shown to block the fatty liver side effect caused by MTP inhibitors without diminishing the latter’s lipid-lowering benefits.
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