Careers & Advancement

2014 Fall Meeting iMatSci

Innovators presented their technologies and were judged, with cash prizes awarded, based on the following criteria: clarity, presentation, value proposition, impact and scalability.

iMatSci Winners

iMatSci Innovator Demonstrations

Color-Changing Polymers (Electrochromics)—Alphachromics, Inc.

Alphachromics, Inc. is transforming color. We have the ability to choose any color transition desired (dark to clear, color to color), with theoretical ability to reach 70%, switch in less than 2 seconds, cycle for more than 10,000 switches, use low power (less than 2 mW/cm2) such that a single 3 V watch battery could power a pair of sunglasses for over six months. Further, we can also meet the US Military specifications for neutrality and chromaticity. Alphachromics has the ability to package all of these advantages of organic polymer based electrochromics in a single package, unlike any competitor.

Watch a video of the demonstration » 

Team: Michael A. Invernale, Gregory A. Sotzing

Michael A. Invernale
Alphachromics, Inc.
Office: 860-679-4355 | Mobile: 203-887-0953

Manufacturing Man-Made Diamond—Carat Systems, Inc.

Carat Systems manufactures and sells equipment for manufacturing man-made diamond. The equipment efficiently converts cheap methane gas to diamond. This man-made diamond is identical to natural diamond in that it is made entirely of pure carbon. Man-made diamond is cheaper, 'greener', and is just as beautiful as natural diamond. Our customers buy the equipment to make gems and semiconducting devices. Although this technology (plasma CVD) has been in use for over 20 years, the process know-how has only recently reached viability. Man-made diamond is rapidly displacing natural diamond in the $9B/year gem marketplace, as well as other products.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: Roy Gat

Roy Gat
Carat Systems, Inc.
Office: 617-669-0472

Acoustically Programmable, Elastomeric Particles—Duke University

Researchers at Duke University have discovered a simple and robust method for synthesizing large quantities of micro- and nanoparticles from silicone elastomers with tunable sizes, densities, and compressibilities for applications across materials science, industrial synthesis, and healthcare. These particles display narrow size distributions (i.e., CVs < 15%) and can be reproducibly manufactured with massive scalability. This approach is a major advancement upon previous techniques such as microfluidic synthesis for synthesizing particles with precise control over size, functionality, and mechanical properties.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: C. Wyatt Shields IV, Leah M. Johnson, Lu Gao, Gabriel P. López

C. Wyatt Shields IV
Duke University
Office: 804-662-0522

Anti-Infection Urinary Catheter—Duke University

The anti-infection urinary catheter is the application of a platform technology that physically disrupts biofilms. The technology mechanically removes more than 85% of biofilm from surfaces, and we are implementing this cost-effective technology in urinary catheters, where biofilm infections have been an intractable and expensive burden. Over 30 million urinary catheters are sold in the US annually, and they are the #1 cause of expensive hospital-associated infections. We developed a general mechanical method to remove bacterial biofilms and implemented this breakthrough approach in a new urinary catheter that flushes bacterial biofilms from the main drainage tube on demand.

Watch a video of the demonstration >>

Team: Vrad Levering, Gabriel P. Lopez, Xuanhe Zhao

Dynamic Active Surface Technology to Control Surface Biofouling—Duke University

Our breakthrough proof-of-concept is based on an electroactuation system that can be operated using a voltage source to cause controlled, on-demand, dynamic surface deformation. Biofouling, often referred to as biofilm, is a huge problem in various industries and has its largest economic impact on marine industry. For instance, it costs the US Navy alone an excess of $5 billion per year to mitigate the costs related to biofouling management on ship hulls. Most of the current commercial marine surface coating have a limited lifetime, often use biocides, and have risen concerning environmental issues. In contrast to this, our technology employs a simple active surface deformation approach that does not use any biocides, is effective in detaching (> 90%) biofilm, and can prevent the formation of biofilms surface. Moreover, our technology is complementary to existing technologies and thereby can improve the lifetime of the coatings.

Watch a video of the demonstration >>

Team: Phanindhar Shivapooja, Qiming Wang, Xuanhe Zhao, Gabriel P. Lopez

Simple Assay for Detection and Quantification of Proteases—
Duke University

Unregulated changes of protease activity have been linked to many diseases including cancers as well as cardiovascular and neurological disorders. We developed a fast, easy, and low cost technology to measure the activity of different protease in bodily fluids. The technology can be used either as a point-of-care device for disease diagnosis or as a means in lowering the cost of the drug discovery process. This technology has a number of advantages over other currently available protease assay systems: (1) it is extremely simple to operate and there is no sophisticated data interpretation; (2) it costs much less than conventional assays like ELISA; and (3) it is very flexible and can be used for many different protease systems. The assay has the potential to be used by physicians, in hospitals, by researchers in laboratories, and by pharmaceutical companies.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: Ali Ghoorchian, Ashutosh Chilkoti, Gabriel P. Lopez

Ali Ghoorchian
Duke University

Vivex-cel Wound Care Recovery Device—Fayetteville State University

Vivex-cel is a patent pending, chronic, and advanced wound care recovery device, unlike any other wound care device currently on the market. Vivex-cel provides the needed wound care recovery environment for complex wounds and the needed moisture, pH, and electrolytes for wound recovery. The device provides both analgesic and antibiotic delivery directly to the wound site and reduces the need for other medications. Vivex-cel does not adhere to wounds and, unlike other dressings, does not cause damage to the wound site during dressing changes. Furthermore, since Vivex-cel can remain on the wound for days, it reduces dressing changes and the demands on nursing staff. The device can be provided hydrated for immediate use or in dessicated form for the battlefield and use in emergency response. 

Team: Carla Raineri Padilla

Carla Raineri Padilla
Fayetteville State University
Office: 910-672-1269

APIOS—Grenoble Institute of Technology

In orthopedics, 5% of the fractures do not heal properly. Apart from painful and risky bone grafts, the only way to induce bone growth is to deliver bioactive proteins, called bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP). However, the use of BMP in surgery has been limited by its high cost and some recent concerns about side effects due to uncontrolled delivery and the high dose delivered. APIOS is a thin coating made of biopolymers that can trap BMP proteins and be deposited on any type of implants, thus solving the two current issues with BMPs. The immobilization of BMPs in the films requires about 100-fold less BMPs than what is used currently, reducing both the cost and the risk of BMP diffusion far away from the site of injury.

Team: Thomas Crouzier, Catherine Picart  

Catherine Picart
Grenoble Institute of technology
Office: 33 4 56 52 93 11

Thomas Crouzier

SEPIA Displays—Harvard University

We present a new reflective digital display technology comprised primarily of elastomers and ink. The display is driven by dielectric elastomers, which are thin sheets of elastomer that experience high (>100%) in-plane deformation under applied electric fields. When coupled to a self-contained array of fluid-filled cavities and channels, ink can be pumped above and below an opaque, perforated reflector, causing the observer to perceive dramatic changes in color. When the ink-filled elastomer ‘pockets’ are stacked vertically, each pixel can achieve full color, yielding arrays with highly saturated colors through effective use of the display’s lateral area.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: Samuel Shian, David R. Clarke, Roger M. Diebold

Roger Diebold
Harvard University
Office: 972-883-6530

Middle-Ear Implant Sensor for Hearing Restoration Applications—
Johns Hopkins University

Over 36 million Americans currently suffer from a significant hearing deficit. A substantial number of ear implant surgeries require some form of re-work due to improper placement or adjustment of the prosthetic. Our technology has the ability to measure frequency-specific transmission across the reconstructed middle ear, making it possible to adjust prosthesis placement and mechanics until functional capacity is optimized. The real-time feedback provided by the sensor will allow the surgeon to verify proper adjustment and positioning of the implant during hearing restoration surgery, instead of months later when the first audiology report is typically provided.

Team: Dawnielle Farrar-Gaines, Howard. W. Francis, George Coles

Dawnielle Farrar-Gaines
Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory
Office: 443-778-7384 | 240-228-7384 

Stretchable Transparent Electrode—Korea Institute of Science & Technology

Stretchable, transparent electrodes are bottlenecks in developing future generation soft electronics. Applications in bio-medical implants and wearable electronics using displays and touch panels demand devices to be conformal to curvy non-planar surfaces, thus requiring tolerance to strain-inducing deformations. However there is no consensus to the ideal material to substitute current brittle (non-stretchable) transparent electrode (indium-tin oxide). Here, we present the facile fabrication method to develop novel Ag nanowire (Ag NW)-based transparent electrode that retains its resistance under the applied strains. We have successfully demonstrated utilizing constructed Ag NW electrodes in an actuator, justifying their potential to be used in stretchable electronics.

Watch a video of the demonstration >>  

Team: Jun Beom Pyo, Byun Soo Kim, Tae Ann Kim, Jonghwi Lee, Sang-Soo Lee

Jun Beom Pyo
Korea Institute of Science & Technology
Office: 82-2-958 5114 | Mobile: 82-10-3154 0473 

Tailored Amorphous Multi-Porous (TAMP) Bioactive Scaffolds for Tissue Regeneration—Lehigh University

Regenerating a dysfunctional tissue with patient’s cells made news recently about a few soft tissue body parts, but is yet to be established for hard tissue (bone and teeth), which would require bioscaffolds that must ideally have: (a) biocompatibility; (b) biodegradability that matches tissue growth; (c) highly interconnected macropores (100s of microns) to promote ingrowth of cells, vascularization, and nutrient delivery; (d) superimposed nanoporosity to guide cell attachment, migration, and differentiation; and (e) bioactivity to catalyze the regeneration process. We have resolved this challenge by introducing interconnected nanoporosity superimposed on macroporosity using novel fabrication methods: macroporosity to provide a basic substrate for tissue ingrowth, nanoporosity to enhance cell response and, the ability to tailor the scaffold’s degradation rate.

Team: Himanshu Jain, Ana Marques, Hassan Moawad, Rui Almeida

Himanshu Jain
Lehigh University
Office: 610-758-4217 

Fabrication of On-Demand Structured Polymer Biochips—
Mexico National Autonomous University

We present a low-cost, rapid, and simple technology based on laser microfabrication to develop on-demand structured biochips in biocompatible polymers. The combination of our setup and method enables rapid prototyping of tridimensional designs in plastics to be used in the development of biocompatible chips. Micrometer-scale structures can indeed be designed for cell culture and biosensor platform using simple or elaborated image software and without requiring additional processing. Several interesting capabilities such as microfluidics control, electronics, and photonics may then be integrated on chip.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: Mathieu Hautefeuille, Juan Hernández-Cordero, Víctor Velázquez, Lucia Cabriales, Reinher Pimentel-Domínguez, Alejandro Kayum Jimenéz Zenteno

Artificial Muscles—NanoTech Institute, University of Texas at Dallas

The high cost of powerful, large-stroke, high-stress artificial muscles has combined with performance limitations such as low cycle life, hysteresis, and low efficiency to restrict applications. We demonstrated that inexpensive, high-strength polymer fibers used for fishing line and sewing thread can be easily transformed by twist insertion to provide fast, scalable, nonhysteretic, long-life tensile and torsional muscles.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: Carter S. Haines, Márcio D. Lima, Na Li, Geoffrey M. Spinks, Javad Foroughi, John D. W. Madden, Shi Hyeong Kim, Shaoli Fang, Mônica Jung de Andrade, Fatma Göktepe, Özer Göktepe, Seyed M. Mirvakili, Sina Naficy, Xavier Lepró, Jiyoung Oh, Mikhail E. Kozlov, Seon Jeong Kim, Xiuru Xu, Benjamin J. Swedlove, Gordon G. Wallace, Ray H. Baughman

Mônica Jung de Andrade
University of Texas at Dallas
Office: 972-883-6530 |  

Patterned Surfaces—NBD Nanotechnologies

NBD is developing the next generation of microfluidic devices that are able to move liquids without the need for channels or pumps. These materials could even be used in futuristic 'organs-on-a-chip' to make the next generation of point-of-care diagnostic materials.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: Constantine Megaridis

High-Throughput ALD—PneumatiCoat Technologies

PneumatiCoat Technologies (PCT) is a materials coating company focused on the development, manufacturing, and industrialization of nano-scale coatings on materials for energy storage and related industries. Significant gains have been demonstrated at the lab and bench-top scale as to how nanocomposite coatings (specifically leveraging the Atomic Layer Deposition technology) can improve the performance, lifetime, and safety of critical materials. PCT’s patent-pending semi-continuous coating process provides a gateway toward the industrialization of these groundbreaking coating solutions, enabling strategic partners in target markets to enhance product capabilities, streamline manufacturing processes, and provide significant economic benefit to both consumer and industry alike.

Team: David M. King, Paul R. Lichty

David King
PneumatiCoat Technologies
Office: 720-980-5930 

Crushproof Batteries for Electric Vehicles—Purdue University

We are in the process of developing multifunctional load-bearing structural batteries for electric vehicles (EVs). The battery system not only stores electricity for vehicle propulsion but also reduces impact forces for the EVs getting into crash loading conditions functioning as a shock absorber, thus decreasing the impact shock to the vehicle occupants for increased safety. Our research leverages the concept of granular load chains to the battery cell arrangement with the use of “sacrificing cells” that effectively limit the impact load propagation speed, thus isolating the mechanical impact shock.

Watch a video of the demonstration >> 

Team: Wayne Chen

Waterloo Tsutsui, P.E.
Purdue University
Office: 765-494-3621| Mobile: 765-430-8880 

Novel Biomaterial for Bone Repair Applications—Ryerson University

The target of this research is manufacturing novel porous nanocomposite, which closely mimic the properties of real bone such as morphology, composition, and mechanical characteristics. Such a product will give patients in need of bone grafts a speedy and efficient recovery as well as the ease of mind from knowing that further medical intervention will not be required. Potential targeted customers are neurosurgeons as end-users and medical companies.
Watch a video of the demonstration >>

Team: Samin Eftekhari, Habiba Bougherara

Samin Eftekhari
Ryerson University
Mobile: 416-835-1927 |

Slippery Liquid Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS)—
SLIPS Technologies, Inc.

SLIPS Technologies is the leader in providing customized solutions for sticky problems in materials. We create highly-repellent slippery surfaces for customers in all industries including: energy, medical, consumer, automotive, defense, and environmental. Our portfolio of pioneering and award-winning technologies and our years of know-how were created at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Team: Philseok Kim, Joanna Aizenberg, Daniel Behr

Daniel Behr, CEO
SLIPS Technologies, Inc.
Office: 617-360-7080 x700 | Mobile: 781-258-6230

Scott Healey

Philseok Kim

Biodegradable Metal Implants for Orthopedic Fracture Fixation—
Surface Integrity, LLC

Surface Integrity has developed the next generation of orthopedic implants that can degrade away at a speed unique for each patient. This is revolutionary for the orthopedic device industry because patients no longer have to rely on off-the-shelf technology when it comes to treating their fracture. Surface Integrity’s technology provides three key advantages over current implants: (1) avoids complications from leaving an implant in long term, (2) eliminates the need for a second surgery, and (3) is customizable so it can fit the needs of each individual patient.

Watch a video of the demonstration >>  

Team: Michael Sealy, Yuebin Guo, Meisam Salahshoor

Michael Sealy
Surface Integrity, LLC
Office: 256-702-5031

Triple Shape Foam—Syracuse University

There is a need for multi-shape memory materials that are low density (light weight) to serve as deployable, space-filling objects in engineering and medicine. Here, we have invented a triple-shape memory polymer foam that features one permanent shape, set during molding, and two temporary shapes that are prescribed arbitrarily and repeatedly by the end-user. As demonstration of utility of the new foam, the permanent shape was set as an open-cell foam in the form of a rectangular bar. This bar was fixed in a compressed (squeezed) and straight configuration at an elevated temperature and then fixed in a compressed and curled stated at a second, but lower, elevated temperature, followed by cooling to room temperature. Upon heating, the object first uncurled and then re-expanded. We envision utilization of this newly invented material in medical devices requiring complex deployment to fill space (such as uncoiling and then expanding for aneurysm treatment) and in deployable foams for sound and thermal insulation. The competitive advantage of our triple shape material—the only known triple shape foam—is the use of commercially available starting chemicals, combined with volumetric shape change possible only in a foam. The time to market could be as short as 18-24 months, with development time focused on process development that minimizes cycle time for production.
Watch a video of the demonstration >>
Team: Patrick T. Mather, Hossein Birjandi Nejad, Richard Baker

Hossein Birjandi Nejad
Syracuse Biomaterials Institute (SBI)
Syracuse University
Mobile: 315-560-4425

Sensitive, High-Strain, High-Rate Bodily Motion Sensors Based on Conductive Nano-Material Rubber Composites—Trinity College Dublin

Monitoring of human bodily motion requires wearable sensors that can detect position, velocity, and acceleration. They should be cheap, lightweight, mechanically compliant, and display reasonable sensitivity at high strains and strain rates. No reported material has simultaneously demonstrated all the above requirements. Here we describe a simple method to infuse liquid-exfoliated graphene into natural rubber to create conducting composites. These materials are excellent strain sensors displaying 104-fold increases in resistance and working at strains exceeding 800%. We have used these composites as bodily motion sensors, effectively monitoring joint and muscle motion as well as breathing and pulse.

Team: Umar Khan, Jonathan N. Coleman, Conor S. Boland

Conor S. Boland
Trinity College Dublin 

High Conductivity and Air Stable Organic Metals on Flexible and Stretchable Bulk Produced Textiles—Valhalla Specialty Polymers LLC

Valhalla Specialty Polymers has developed a conductive polymer coating on textiles, specifically synthetic leathers and spandex, that has the capability to flex and stretch with the fabric while maintaining the ‘nap and feel’ of the original material. These conductive textiles are all-organic in composition and are simply prepared in a soak and dry process easily adapted to roll-to-roll manufacturing. Our system is capable of achieving over 20,000 S/cm in conductivity, more conductive than stainless steel (14,500 S/cm) with sheet resistances below 5 ohms/square, giving these textiles the capability of carrying power sufficient to light a 250 watt incandescent bulb when replacing copper in the circuit.

Team: Gregory Sotzing

Battery Electrode Fabrication through Innovative Powder-Based Additive Manufacturing—Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Missouri University of Science and Technology

In current Li-ion battery manufacturing, electrode preparation using the slurry process consumes a lot of time due to N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) solvent evaporation for the porous electrode. In this process, significant energy and expensive solvent are used, which increase the manufacturing cost and time. Furthermore, NMP needs to be recovered to prevent possible pollution. We have invented a completely dry electrode manufacturing process that can potentially lead to low cost battery manufacturing. Our analyses show that the dry process can save more than 15% of the manufacturing cost compared to conventional wet processing. The invention has the potential to revolutionize the current battery industry.

Team: Yan Wang, Heng Pan, Zhangfeng Zheng, Brandon Ludwig

Heng Pan
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Office: 573-341-4896 

Surface-Tethered Antimicrobial Peptides AMProtection—
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Over 150,000 people per year suffer complications from infection of titanium orthopedic implants and facture fixation devices resulting in extended hospital stays, implant failure, and patient pain and suffering. This ultimately costs $250 million annually in the United States. We have developed a novel titanium surface modification using antimicrobial peptides to prevent the occurrence of these infections. Our approach is to combat implant-associated infections with surface-tethered peptides to prevent infections, while allowing time for natural healing to take place. We have successfully tethered the AMP Chrysophsin-1 to a silicon dioxide surface and have demonstrated increased antimicrobial efficacy of the bound peptide compared to the physically absorbed control, demonstrating its feasibility.

Watch a video of the demonstration >>  

Team: Todd Alexander, Lindsay Lozeau, Terri A. Camesano, Ivan Ivanov, Alec Morrison

Todd Alexander
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Mobile: 508-813-9081

Lindsay Dawn Lozeau
Office: 508-831-4142