Available Physical Science Technologies

IT, Electronics, & Software

MEMS devices have seen broad adoption in the transportation, communication, medical, and consumer product industries. However, the vast majority of MEMS are based on silicon and fabricated using expensive, energy intensive processing with harsh chemicals. Cellulose-based MEMS devices offer an alternative that is not only greener, but also anticipated to be less expensive and to enable new applications.  
Overview | U.S. Patent 9,353,313 | U.S. Patent Application

The increasing demands for portable power and renewable energy have contributed to the popularity of rechargeable lithium-ion battery technologies. These light, safe and easier to package batteries span several industries, including electric vehicles, medical devices, power tools, portable consumer electronics and energy storage systems. This pair of new algorithms is designed to improve the charging and charge monitoring capabilities of lithium-ion polymer batteries.  
Overview | U.S. Patent 9,197,089

To perform an MRI scan, a patient must be placed inside a radiofrequency coil. Current coils are expensive to manufacture, and also require expensive and time-consuming tuning. This new coil design is expected to be easier to construct and more robust than traditional coils, producing stable broadband radiofrequency waves which enable self-tuning. 
Overview | U.S. Patent Application

Time-to-digital converters (TDC) convert sporadic signal pulses into a digital measure of time. High resolution TDCs have a variety of applications in measurements and instrumentation. However, current TDCs are limited in resolution, size, range and/or power requirements. This novel approach enables a higher level of precision, resolution and time ranges, while maintaining a small chip area and low power requirements. 
Immediate non-exclusive licensing available through our Ready-to-Sign program 
Overview | U.S. Patent 8,138,958

Impurity doping is used to control the electrical properties of semiconductors used in semiconductor junctions such as diodes and transistors. However, the high temperatures typically needed in these techniques can also cause surface decomposition which can have a negative impact on device performance.  This low temperature process prevents such defects from forming during the doping process.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,999,268

Silicon carbide (SiC) is an advanced material typically used in power electronics, including Schottky diodes and metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs). SiC MOSFETs have historically been plagued by performance issues, which can be addressed at least in part with further chemical treatments. This invention relates to the use of phosphorus passivation as an improved treatment over current methods, including NO passivation. These patents are available for non-exclusive licensing. 
U.S. Patent 9,117,817 | U.S. Patent 9,362,367

A semiconductor die is attached to a packaging substrate by a patterned layer of conductive metal that includes voids. The voids provide a space into which the metal may expand when heated in order to avoid placing mechanical stress on the bonds caused by high temperatures. This technology has applications for electronics to be used in extreme environments.  These patents are co-owned by Auburn University and the Boeing Company. 
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,786,602 | U.S. Patent 7,939,376

Cell towers and other large antennas are expensive infrastructure that remain highly vulnerable to vandalism, terrorism and natural disasters. This invention embodies antennas consisting of nonwoven textiles with embedded metallic or other wave carrying fibers. These textiles would serve the needed purpose of the textile, such as geotextiles for road bed protection, while adding the functionality of electronic transmission. This could also be applied to other exterior building surfaces such as roofs and bridges. For road applications, geotextile antennas would be considerably less vulnerable to damage and likely much less expensive than the current infrastructure. Transmission through asphalt has been demonstrated at the prototype level. 
Overview | U.S. Patent 8,009,120

This invention filters mechanical vibrations in MEMS devices.  Based on comb drive actuators, it provides multi-dimensional vibration isolation and tunable dampening of vibrations at less cost and/or with better performance than current alternatives.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,355,318

This invention embodies a novel direct digital synthesis (DDS) architecture using high-order ΔΣ interpolators to remove quantization error. The presented DDS can achieve very low phase noise with small size and fine resolution, and thus provide a low cost and high performance means of frequency synthesis.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,577,695

The current manual analog testing process for high-speed RFICs is time consuming and costly, rising to as much as 50 percent of the manufacturing cost. As a result, only a small sample of RF circuitry is currently tested. This invention could, for the first time, make complete testing of RFIC chips economically feasible.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,428,683

Click here for a listing of all Electronics patents available for immediate licensing under Auburn's Ready-To-Sign program.

 

Materials (including polymers, fibers & sensors)

This sensor is designed for thin reflective films and structures such as mirrors and silicon wafers. While surface slopes can be used to evaluate flatness, curvature components can be used to quantify stresses. This technology is also capable of detecting localized defects. This enables the user to detect otherwise imperceptible flaws. The technology is relatively cost effective and easy to implement and automate. This technology has quality control applications for optical and electronic components. 
Overview U.S. Patent Application

These self-plasticizing copolymers allow for the assessment of a wide variety of ions without experiencing the negative effects of leaching, typically caused from using plasticizers. The key application for these sensors are for the detection of low levels of ions in bodily fluids for medical testing and research. 
Up to seven U.S. patents related to ion sensing are available for immediate non-exclusive licensing through Auburn's Ready-to-Sign program

Phase change materials are materials with high heats of fusion, meaning that they are capable of storing and releasing large amounts of energy when they melt or solidify.  These nanoparticle-enhanced phase change materials (NEPCM) show enhanced thermal conductivity and higher heat release rates over standard materials.  This suggests superior performance for thermal management applications, including insulation, energy storage and medical therapies.  A 2007 article on NEPCMs has made ScienceDirect's TOP25 Hottest Articles list and continued to be listed in the third quarter of 2009. 
U.S. Patent 9,027,633 | Press Release on ScienceDirect

This work is the first demonstration of the use of landscape phage as recognition elements for biosensors. As superior substitutes for antibodies, phage exhibit many features such as high affinity, field stability, and low cost that show utility in a variety of real-time applications. 
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,670,765 | Related U.S. Patent: 7,138,238

This piezoelectric sensor allows for the detection of ligand-peptide interactions directly in tissue samples. Numerous sensing applications exist with this technology, including identification and detection of ligands specific to various organs, tissues, and cell types. 
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Overview | U.S. Patent No. 7,138,238

This novel technique allows for controlled deposition of particles, resulting in more consistent nanoparticle thin films with fewer defects than films made using standard solvent evaporation techniques. This technology has applications in optical devices, sensors, catalysis and semiconductors.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,384,879

This high-performance, low cost electroactive co-polymer (EAP) can achieve a higher electrostrictive strain than similar EAPs, and has a wide range of potential applications, including actuators, transducers, artificial organs, and artificial muscles. 
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Overview | U.S. Patent No. 7,608,976

A composite is described having a 3D distribution of carbon nanotubes. The critical aspect of such composites is a nonwoven network of randomly oriented metallic fibers connected at their junctions to afford macropores in the spaces between the fibers. The composite has quite desirable properties for cold field electron emission and other electrode applications. This technology is available for license in certain fields of use.
Immediate non-exclusive licensing for certain fields of use available through Auburn's Ready-to-Sign program 
Overview | U.S. Patent No. 6,495,258

 

Chemical & Environmental

MEMS devices have seen broad adoption in the transportation, communication, medical, and consumer product industries. However, the vast majority of MEMS are based on silicon and fabricated using expensive, energy intensive processing with harsh chemicals. Cellulose-based MEMS devices offer an alternative that is not only greener, but also anticipated to be less expensive and to enable new applications.  
Overview | U.S. Patent 9,353,313 | U.S. Patent Application

This rechargeable system keeps fabrics, paints and other surfaces of hospitals, clinics, day cares, and homes free of contaminations for an extended period of time. The n-halamine formulations inactivate bacteria and viruses on contact, and can be recharged using diluted household bleach. The treated surfaces also fight the build-up of mold and mildew, reducing problems associated with malodors, stains, and allergies. 
General antimicrobial overview | Overview of latex paint applications
U.S. Patents: 6,969,769 | 8,496,920 | 8,535,654
8,821,907

Cellulase enzymes are one of the major cost factors in production of cellulosic ethanol. This method converts pulp sludge into a substrate suitable for bioconversion, with research showing treated sludge is equivalent to pure cellulose for the purposes of cellulase production. Thus, this method can be used to convert a current waste stream into a supplemental production unit. 
Overview | U.S. Patent 8.900,457

In order to produce biofuels by fermentation of woody biomass, a pre-treatment step is required to form a fermentable material. Current processes require significant time and cost. This simple, low cost amino acid-based technology can speed up both the pre-treatment process and the subsequent rate of biofuel production. 
Overview U.S. Patent Application

There is a continuing need for more rapid and increasingly sensitive tools to detect and quantify the presence of dangerous pathogens. Further, with the advent of nanotechnology, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are becoming more prevalent in the environment, which raises potential health concerns. This novel method provides both improved gene detection and an enabling detection of CNTs in water. 
Overview | U.S. Patent 9,051,605

Despite often being superior to other methods, copper catalysts typically are not used industrially for organic synthesis due to residual copper interfering with subsequent reaction steps and/or the negative impact of any downstream residual metal.  This solid-phase extraction technology enables the use of these catalysts for such applications, allowing for a sustainable and more efficient synthesis approach. 
Overview (Catalysis) | Overview (Recovery) | U.S. Patent 8,445,678

This ligand system preferentially binds uranium, demonstrating a measurable color shift upon such binding. This would allow for the visual detection of uranium in a sample or in the environment. A variety of formulations, such as solutions or sprays, could be developed for different applications. The strong binding to uranium enables functionality as a remediation or long-term storage solution. 
Overview | U.S. Patent 8,445,678

This method for improved size fractionation of nanoparticles relies on the use of a gaseous antisolvent. Multiple monodisperse particle populations can be rapidly fractionated by adjusting only the gas pressure and the liquid location on a surface, thereby eliminating the difficulties associated with other methods that are time and solvent intensive, expensive and/or have limited throughput.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 8,215,489 | U.S. Patent 8,377,831

This invention provides a significantly improved method for the production of nano and microparticles with a narrow size distribution. The processes of the invention utilize the properties of supercritical fluids and also the principles of vibrational atomization to provide an efficient technique for the effective nanonization or micronization of particles. 
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Overview | U.S. Patent 6,620,351

Destruction of Perchlorate and Nitrate in Spent Ion-Exchange Brine

Ion-exchange technology often produces large volumes of spent brine containing high concentrations of contaminant, which can be difficult or cost prohibitive to process. A new class of zero-valent iron nanoparticles stabilized with starch or cellulose can degrade perchlorate or nitrate in spent ion exchange brine in an environmentally safe manner, something not possible by current techniques.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,635,236

Iron nanoparticles of varying compositions are prepared by adding a very low-cost stabilizer to prevent agglomeration, thereby maintaining their high surface area and reactivity. These stabilized nanoparticles demonstrate much higher reactivity, allowing for quicker and more complete remediation. This may improve and possibly enable remediation of such inorganic contaminants as arsenate, nitrate, chromate and perchlorate and such heavy metals as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.
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Overview | U.S. Patent 7,581,902 (Heavy Metals) | U.S. Patent 7,635,236 (Inorganics)

Bimetallic nanoparticles are prepared by adding a very low-cost stabilizer to prevent agglomeration, thereby maintaining their high surface area and reactivity. These stabilized nanoparticles demonstrate much higher reactivity, allowing for quicker and more complete remediation. Additionally, this may enable remediation of some compounds currently considered untreatable, including PCB and TCE.
Immediate non-exclusive licensing available through our Ready-to-Sign program 
Overview | U.S. Patent 7,887,880

Under subcritical water conditions, biomass readily converts into biochar, biocrude, and some gases. In this invention, yield of biochar is significantly improved by recycling of biocrude. The process can produce higher yields of biochar with a heating value comparable to good quality coals. More than 90% of the biomass energy is retained in the biochar. 
U.S. Patent No. 8,637,718

 

Classical Engineering (including civil and mechanical)

Fuel cells are highly reliable alternate energy sources that can be used in mobile or remote locations such as automobiles, ships and farms, as well as for on-grid applications. This highly sensitive control system has the potential to improve the overall efficiency of fuel cells, provide safer and more reliable operations, and reduce the size of the cell. 
Overview | U.S. Patent 8,691,456

Construction Industry Technologies

Please note that many of these products have potential applications in the "do-it-yourself" market as well as in construction

Read more on Auburn's Studio+Build Program in Engineering News Record

Laser Square
Laser Square

The majority of building components are laid out using a series of right angles. Any variation in that angle during measurement can lead to errors that can cause significant problems in the downstream construction process. This "Pinpoint Placement Tool" uses laser guidance to confirm that measurements are being taken precisely at right angles.  A laser plumb serves to further ensure precision of the final mark. 
Overview | U.S. Patent 8,266,807

Portable Sawhorse Workstation
Portable Sawhorse

Traditional sawhorses are only made to last during the construction job for which they are built, and require hours of time to construct on each job site. The QuickHorse portable sawhorse workstation provides an efficient, mobile, and light weight alternative to traditional sawhorses while providing increased convenience and flexibility. This easy to assemble and easy to use invention has potential applications for construction professionals and do-it-your-selfers alike. 
Overview | U.S. Patent 8,757,323