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Summer & Fall 2013
Just A Little Is Enough
A new approach to surgery is making a mark on the industry but not on the patients
Horizon Student Investment Competition winner on road to success
Up and Coming
New technologies coming out of UT System institutions
15 UT System Institutions, 16 twitter feeds to follow
A message from the Vice Chancellor
Welcome to Horizons, a publication of The University of Texas System Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) that celebrates the discovery accomplishments of our 15 universities and academic health centers. Every day at UT brings a new story of accomplishment. Through our lens you will be delighted by the truly remarkable research ranging from engineering, health care, physical and biological sciences, informatics and nanotechnology. Planting research seeds and growing them into commercial products that benefit the public is easily the most challenging aspect of the discovery life cycle. That’s why Horizons is essential reading if you wish to understand how drugs are born, energy is greening up, big data is moving and much, much more. This issue also highlights the strong accomplishments of the UT System OTC. The UT Horizon Fund was reauthorized for an additional $12.5 million by the UT System Board of Regents in February. To better understand campus needs in advancing technology commercialization, OTC conducted a systemwide appraisal and also a back-testing model to quantify potential return on investments for UT startups. Results have been incorporated into new Horizon Fund directions. The 2013 student investment competition was a huge success, where 16 student teams from across UT System institutions competed for up to $100,000 in funds. It is also my great pleasure to bring OTC into central focus as the office takes on a new direct reporting relationship to me as vice chancellor of research and innovation. All of these events open new avenues that promote technology commercialization and spotlight the UT System’s commitment to this vital and innovative enterprise.
B R YA N A L L I N S O N Executive Director Office of Technology Commercialization
FRANCISCO G. CIGARROA, M.D. Chancellor, UT System
PAT R I C I A H U R N , P h . D . Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation
– Patricia Hurn, Ph.D.
On The Horizon
Horizons is published by the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) at The University of Texas System. Horizons is dedicated to showcasing the newest developments in technology commercialization at the UT System, as well as detailing new ventures coming from within the OTC. For additional information about Horizons or its contents, contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Brief 2 Just a Little is Enough New Clean Water Filtering Method 6 Technology Showcase UT System on Twitter
Stampede supercomputer makes solving the impossible, possible
In addition to underscoring the “ everything is bigger in Texas” motto, the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s (TACC) recently unveiled the Stampede supercomputer. It is the most powerful in the U.S, dedicated to academic research and is the 7th fastest supercomputer in the world. Comprised of Dell and Intel parts, over 75 miles of fiber optic cables and spanning nearly 200 cabinets in the Austin-based TACC facility, Stampede is water cooled through reservoirs under the facility floor. In addition to 272 terabytes of total memory, Stampede delivers 10 petaflops of performance (A petaflop is a measure of the operations a computer can process in a single second. For example, 2+2 is one operation. Stampede can process 10 quadrillion such operations per second). Coming in at $27.5 million, the cost of Stampede is a small price to pay when you consider the impact it already has on researchers who solve scientific problems that would otherwise be impossible, such as predicting tumor growth, earthquakes and severe weather occurrences. In fact, 90 percent of Stampede’s system is While the vast majority of Stampede will be dedicated toward XSEDE, its remaining power will be available for researchers across UT System and members of TACC’s Science & Technology Affiliates for Research (STAR) Program to use. Additionally, some students will be able to interact with Stampede directly in select classes, allowing them to log into the computer and conduct research. And, with this training under their belts, anything is possible. gaining knowledge that cannot be learned through conventional means. The capabilities resulting from assembling so many powerful computing systems far exceed the sum of their parts. dedicated to the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). The most powerful collection of digital resources in the world, XSEDE is a single virtual system that scientists can use to share computing resources, collaborate data and transmit ideas. XSEDE is composed primarily of higher learning institutions that have contributed their resources toward this partnership, and XSEDE projects focus on
Horizon Fund team welcomes Jeet Vijay
Jeet Vijay, the newest addition to the UT System OTC, brings with him experience and knowledge to open up new doors for the Horizon Fund. Jeet Vijay directs the investment activities at University of Texas Horizon Fund. He manages all aspects of investment process including deal origination, analysis, structuring and portfolio monitoring. He is also responsible for developing and managing relations with the venture capital community. Most recently, Jeet worked as an investment director for a U.S-based emerging markets, focused private equity fund where he was responsible for developing and managing the South Asia, Middle East and Greece portfolio. Jeet also has corporate experience in the domains of strategic planning, financial analysis and international expansion acquired while working for, or consulting with, companies in retailing and the energy sector. His academic background includes a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin, a Master’s in Energy Resource Management from UT Austin and an MBA from Rice University. When the opportunity to work for his alma mater presented itself, Jeet jumped at the chance. Working in the emerging and complex space of the university-backed venture industry is something that he is passionate about and “living in Austin, the best city in the country,” made the decision a no-brainer. He is also a level-2 Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) candidate and he holds Series 7, 79 and Series 66 (equivalent of 63 & 65) Securities Licenses. Jeet hopes to help the OTC fulfill its mission by creating economic and social value by commercializing and monetizing UT System’s intellectual properties. “Working in a start-up environment, one in
Stampede uses Dell’s Scorpion chassis to store the supercomputer’s processors, enabling indvidual components to be removed and maintained without the entire system needing to be shut down.
which we collaborate extensively, is a major reason why I love coming into work,” Jeet says.
Nanofibers put new spin on manufacturing possibilites
Nanofibers may be small — it takes 1,000 nanofibers to equal the thickness of a single human hair — but boy do they have might. Nanofibers have a host of properties that make them superior to almost every other material available today. With a dramatically higher surface-area-tovolume ratio, up to 1,000 times higher than microfibers, nanofibers are far more efficient than most commonly used fibers when it comes to applications such as chemical delivery, electron and photon transfer, and filtration. They have fantastic tensile strength, increased resistance to cracking and much improved thermal and electrical properties over their microfiber counterparts.
Forcespinning technology allows for industrial scale production of nanofibers in a process that is more versatile, efficient, cost-effective and safe than any other process in use today. “Our competitors combine electricity with dangerous solvents to make nanofibers,” explains Buchanan. “We simply use centrifugal force, like cotton candy, so we can make the fibers with or without solvents. This means that Forcespinning has ten times the productivity, is one quarter of the cost and is environmentally friendly.” Combine FibeRio’s revolutionary Forcespinning technology
From healthcare to energy, textiles to water filtration, nanofiber applications are limitless. Just ask Ellery Buchanan, President and CEO of FibeRio Technology Corporation, a developer and manufacturer of nanofiber production systems.
with other rapidly occurring innovations in the field of nanotechnology and the world is poised to see not only the rise of a multi-billion dollar industry, but unprecedented, widespread implementation of nanofibers in products and applications. “Nanotechnology is the science of the small, but the opportunity is very big. It has been estimated that the total impact of nanotechnology could soon be over $200 billion. Nanofibers are one piece of that puzzle. And, it is estimated that the market will be several billion dollars by 2020,” Buchanan said. FibeRio is set to have a major influence on this untapped market. Coming out of UTPA and with offices located in Edinburg, Texas, FibeRio looks to not only expand its own capabilities to keep up with the increasing demand for nanofibers, but to put South Texas on the map of advanced nanotechnology producers. “FibeRio will continue to expand the productivity and size of our equipment very rapidly,” Buchanan said. “We will
Above: A scientist at FibeRio operates a proprietary Forcespinning Cyclone device
enable huge advancements in filtering the air we all breathe and even the water we drink, in the clothes we wear and in the power that drives our daily lives. Some of this innovation is occurring right here with our research partners in the UT System, and we are proud of the opportunities we have to give back to this great state through jobs, commerce and service.” Keep an eye out for products incorporating nanofibers
“Nanofibers will be used for everything from air filters to wound bandages, from aerospace composites to batteries, and from diapers to clothing,” said Buchanan. “In the nearest coming years it will be surgical gowns and air filters. Then it will expand to clothing and energy.” While the uses for nanofibers may be limitless, producing them in large quantities has proven difficult and expensive. Enter FibeRio. Co-founded in 2009 with The University of Texas Pan American (UTPA), FibeRio’s breakthrough
produced by companies like FibeRio in the near future. As proliferation of technologies such as FibeRio’s spread, nanofibers are destined to become the material of choice for crafting products we use in our everyday lives, for every purpose that can be imagined.
UTSA grad’s innovative aneurysm repair gets it right the first time
An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. have some form of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) every year — when the large blood vessel (aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outward. Current procedures to repair AAA end up leaking 17 percent of the time, warranting costly secondary surgeries or interventions. By facilitating natural healing, the TESAR But not for long thanks to Dr. Jordan Kaufmann, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and 2012 winner of the first annual University of Texas Horizon Fund Student Investment Competition (SIC). Kaufmann, who was awarded a $50,000 grant, will use the money to support Cardiovate, a startup company dedicated to the development of a new stent-graft that vastly improves treatment of AAA. Dr. Kaufmann’s research has focused on replacing current synthetic graft material with tissue engineering scaffold for aneurysm repair (TESAR). Current stent-grafts are made of Teflon or other polymers that don’t actually cause the aneurysm to heal. The TESAR
Jordan Kaufmann, Ph.D., inventor of the TESAR and founder of Cardiovate
scaffold promotes a tissue barrier at the site of the aneurysm. Once the barrier is established, the TESAR bioresorbs into the body. “Current methods for treating an aneurysm don’t promote healing and can leak,” said Dr. Kaufmann. ”The TESAR stent-graft heals the aneurysm instead of just covering it up.”
While Cardiovate has a promising future, participation in the Horizon competition has its benefits too. “Competing in the SIC prompted me to organize my business plan and think about the direction I wanted my company to take,” Dr. Kaufmann said. “The requirements of the SIC helped me to do the groundwork for the company and to visualize how Cardiovate would be brought to life.” While there’s much work to be done, Dr. Kaufmann’s committed to bringing TESAR to market.
stent-graft reduces the need for secondary surgeries and interventions, which reduces healthcare costs and improves patient outcomes. After six years of developing TESAR technology in the lab, Dr. Kaufmann decided to commercialize her technology. “Coming from a medical background, many of the business aspects of starting my own company post new challenges,” said Dr. Kaufmann. “More logistical than anything else, the company side of getting our technology to market is a new adventure.” In addition to raising additional funds to help Cardiovate take off, Dr. Kaufmann is working on scaling her TESAR technology for commercial manufacturing. “We’re looking to have our first human trial within 2 years,” said Dr. Kaufmann. “If that goes well, we are going to try to make it into the European market in 5-6 years. If we are successful there, hopefully our technology will be the new industry standard for treating aneurysms. We see our technology as a next generation graft that will push the market up.”
A new partnership focused on technology life cycle and long-term sustainability
Since joining The University of Texas System in January 2011, Executive Director Bryan Allinson has led the Office of Technology Commercialization in creating the UT Horizon Fund, the strategic market-driven venture fund for the system. Mr. Allinson and the UT Horizon Fund team work closely with UT institutions where a new startup is formed every nine days, a commercialization agreement signed every three days and a new patent filed every 2 days. Allinson added that a 10-year back-testing “The strategic mission of the Fund is to improve technology commercialization out of model of the Fund showed that UT System could have potentially invested in 72 discovery research in a way that is sustainable over time,” said Allinson. “Too often programs get started, funding dries up or there are other challenges that limit our ability to ‘bridge the gap’. Our emphasis on a long-term sustainable business model enables us to utilize market feedback so that investments have the potential to provide a return. That return can then be leveraged as a positive feedback loop to reinvest in success.” In addition to starting the Fund, Allinson has led nine investments into UT startups, including Austin’s M-87, Houston’s PLx “If UT System would have started the Fund 10 years ago, it would be in better position to assist the discovery to market life cycle,” Allinson said. companies from 2002-2012, providing the possibility of 12 separate exits and three major exits for a 54 percent return on investment.
A new partnership continued on Hpage 7 ORIZONS
Just a Little is Enough: Apollo Endosurgery Envisions A Painless Future For Surgeries
Pain, hospital stay, risk of infection, scarring. They go hand-in-hand with any invasive surgical procedure, and demand careful management from medical and hospital staff, and endurance and self-care from the patient. What if there was a way to perform surgery that was less invasive — that was not only less traumatic for patients but more efficient and effective too? Until recently, the technology to perform complex surgeries without external incisions did not exist. But the emerging field of endosurgery — minimally invasive surgery — is about to change all that, and Apollo Endosurgery, Inc. is helping to lead the way. Founded in 2006 on initial groundwork of the Apollo Group, a conglomerate of gastroenterologists and surgeons from the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, the Medical University of South Carolina, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Apollo Endosurgery’s goal is to advance the field of endosurgery and less invasive therapies through cutting-edge research and development, and commercialization of the group’s inventions and innovations. In fact, the devices used in endosurgeries give this developing field incalculable potential. “Apollo and other venture-backed startup companies are leading the efforts in developing new technologies in this space,” said Dennis McWilliams, CEO and founder of Apollo. “Traditionally, smaller companies have been the birthplace of innovation in life sciences. It’s typically not until a new technology has been through the gauntlet of regulatory approval, proof of concept and early commercialization that larger companies take on the marketing and sales of these innovations.” The OverStitch™ suturing system and OverTube™ endoscopic access system are Apollo’s two flagship products. OverStitch allows doctors to suture incisions precisely through a single insertion of the endoscope. The OverTube is a sheath placed around the endoscope during surgeries that protects both the device and the patient. Not one to rest on its laurels, Apollo is focused on expanding their product line to include more affordable and innovative endoscopic developments. “Our niche is in flexible, disposable, cost-effective surgical tools H O R I that Z O N S fit on or through a flexible endoscope,” said
McWilliams. “Additionally, energy-based therapies are also of interest to us.” Apollo is currently developing the SuMO™ tissue access system, which will allow doctors to treat suspicious lesions of greater size endoscopically, an alternative to highly-invasive procedures that can lead to digestive complications and fatalities. As innovations in the field of endosurgery evolve, so will its applications and reach. In fact, when it comes to making non-invasive surgery available to more people, the envelope is constantly being pushed. Dennis McWilliams predicts that up one third of surgical procedures will be performed through less invasive means over the next decade. It’s a trend that spells booming business for companies like Apollo, enabling its founder to bring his company’s vision to life. “We want to revolutionize patient care by driving the adoption of endoscopic therapy,” said McWilliams. “Initially, we focused on patients that were too sick for normal surgery, and flexible endoscopic surgery offered the only option to solve a gastrointestinal problem. Increasingly we are treating a broader range of patients — from the very sick to patients who simply want a less invasive option for their therapy.” The innovations of Apollo are helping to elevate endosurgery within the field of medicine. However, innovations as vast as theirs are not always readily adopted. One of the major challenges facing industry leaders like Dennis McWilliams is raising awareness of the benefits that the endoscopic route can bring to the operating table. “Many people don’t realize that endoscopic alternatives are available for many procedures right now, today,” said McWilliams. As people become aware of the option to reduce pain, hospital stays and scarring, endoscopic alternatives are bound to catch on.
Above: The OverStitch™ system allows for quick and precise sutures while subjecting the patient to minimal amounts of trauma
BIKE REFLECTORS ON DECK TO DETECT BIOTERRORISM, INFECTIOUS DISEASES
“The availability of an
instrument capable of detecting several agents simultaneously would greatly enhance our response to a possible bioterror attack or the emergence of a disease not often seen here”
- Richard Wilson
Lead Researcher, University of Houston
The retroreflector technology used to create safety reflectors for bicycles, running shoes and apparel may soon be used to detect bioterror threats and aid emergency response crews in their efforts to identify agents used in a biological attack. Led by Richard Willson of the University of Houston, scientists from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Sandia National Laboratories in California have developed an ultrasensitive, all-in-one device that utilizes retroreflector technology to quickly tell first responders exactly which diseasecausing microbe has been used in a bioterrorism attack. “In the most likely kind of attack, large numbers of people would start getting sick with symptoms that could be from multiple infectious agents. But which one?” Willson said. “The availability of an instrument capable of detecting several agents simultaneously would greatly enhance our response to a possible bioterror attack or the emergence of a disease not often seen here.” Retroreflectors have been around for a long time and are ubiquitous
in things like street signs, safety vests and traffic lane markers. The Apollo 11 astronauts even left a retroreflector on the moon that is still used today as a laser-range finder. Wilson and his colleagues have modified the retroreflectors by decreasing their size so that 200 of them would fit inside the period at the end of this sentence. These microfabricated retroreflectors were given a biochemical surface capable of detecting pathogens, essentially turning them into a mini lab-on-a-chip, with minute channels that can process small amounts of blood or other fluids. If a sample of blood or fluid is bacteria-free, the reflector shines brightly. A sample containing pathogens, however, blocks out some reflectors and makes them go dark. The advantages of this technology are many, with instant feedback, universal application, low cost and accuracy topping the list. Ultimately, it could help save lives. Currently, the device can test on seven different “channels” at once, with each channel targeting a different type of disease. The researchers aim to continue
adding channels to making their retroreflectors a one-stop diseasetesting tool. Willson and his colleagues have proposed an alternative that could provide more immediate results and one that could be small enough to be carried by first responders or doctors. The team is also modifying the technology for use in doctors’ offices and clinics where retroreflectors could provide rapid, on-site diagnoses of common infectious diseases before patients leave, eliminating the wait for test results and expediting treatment. The retroreflector device has already proven successful in identifying a bioterrorism threat that causes Mediterranean spotted fever, and more tests are soon to come.
UTEP researchers guarantee clean water with new filtering method
Many countries, including the U.S., use ground water as their primary drinking source. Unfortunately, ground water is susceptible to contamination from leaking sewer lines and septic tanks, infiltration of surface water contaminated by human and animal wastes, and careless disposal of septic waste. The pathogens and bacteria in contaminated drinking water can lead to hepatitis viruses and E. coli bacteria, which pose serious health and financial costs. Blocking transmission of these pathogens and bacteria to humans could significantly reduce disease outbreaks associated with groundwater as well as alleviate concerns regarding bioterrorist threats to drinking water supplies. The Surfactant Modified Zeolite (SMZ) filter is designed to do just that. Developed by The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) researchers Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Robert Bowman and Natesh Pillai, the SMZ filter provides an inexpensive and highly effective method to remove biological pathogens including bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoa from water. The SMZ filter can be deployed in many different applications. Potable water filters, point of use water filters, water bottle filters or filter packets that can be placed into a body of water such as a well or pond, are all potential uses. This highly flexible property makes the SMZ filter ideal for areas that have multiple water sources in need of purification as well as regions where reliable access to clean water is not available. In addition to being extremely versatile, the SMZ filter is also inexpensive to produce at only about 50 cents per pound, and used for any types of water ranging from drinking water to waste water. These properties, combined with the ability to manufacture in various grain sizes to allow water to flow at reasonably fast discharge rates, makes the SMZ filter a prime choice for any application. The SMZ filter has been tested in both laboratory and field experiments and has shown to be extremely efficient in removing bacteria and viruses from water. In field experiments on sewage water, the SMZ filter removed 100 percent of E. coli and more than 99.9 percent of the bacteriophages tested. After six months the removal efficiency for E. coli was still 100 percent. The SMZ filter holds tremendous potential for ensuring clean water, essential to public health and society as a whole.
Horizon Fund team welcomes Theresa Shick-Johnson
Theresa Shick-Johnson serves as the senior business analyst for the Office of Technology Commercialization. Her role is to collaborate with UT System and UT institution professionals to develop and implement client relationship management, intellectual property and venture capital software-based initiatives. She is responsible for the documentation of policies and procedures to ensure the operational quality of all aspects of the database for education and communication with UT System staff, as well as the transition from legacy databases. She is the liaison between the UT System’s Office of Technology Commercialization, the Office of Intellectual Property and the UT institution’s Office of Technology Commercialization, Office of Technology Management and Office of Research. Prior to joining the Office of Technology Commercialization, Theresa was the senior program delivery specialist with the Office of Facilities Planning and Construction within UT System. She created training documentation and initiatives to roll out the Capital Project and program management software system to the program management staff. She created reports for management, accounting and coworkers that captured all aspects of the capital improvement project data specific to each group to help manage individual sections as well as projects over all. She also provided technology and information control support to over 150 users. She previously was the restaurant data administrator for the corporate office of Johnny Carino’s Italian helping to grow the brand from 15 corporate office restaurants to 150 corporate and franchise locations. Theresa holds a BBA in Computer Information Services from Texas State University.
UT Arlington’s approach to methanol production is cost-effective, environmentally friendly
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, the simplest of the alcohol molecules, is a significant component of bio-fuels and can be burned in engines. It’s also an important chemical in the manufacturing of plastics, adhesives and solvents. Unfortunately, current methods of producing methanol from CO2 involve large amounts of electricity, high pressures and temperatures, and toxic chemicals or rare elements that are expensive and difficult to procure. A better method, however, has arrived thanks to researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington. The new method produces methanol from carbon dioxide. In addition to being cleaner, safer, less expensive, and simpler than current methods, it can be implemented on an industrial scale that would allow electrical power plants emitting CO2 to recapture a portion of it and convert it back into useful fuel. Dr. Krishnan Rajeshwar, leader of the UT Arlington team believes their new process, which utilizes a photo-electrochemical version of the photosynthesis that occurs in plants, is the answer to more cost-effective and environmentally friendly methanol production. Rajeshwar and his colleagues’ technique involves coating copper oxide nanowires with another form of copper oxide and submerging them in a carbon diozide solution. This array is then exposed to sunlight, which triggers a chemical reaction that produces methanol. The process is about 95 percent efficient and avoids the overpotential, or use of excess energy, that current methods employ. Dr. Rajeshwar believes the new method will be useful for creating fuel in remote areas that otherwise have limited access to fuel supply on a regular basis. This method could be used in conjunction with traditional electrical power plants to boost their total output, reduce CO2 pollution and convert the methanol into useable fuel. “ As long as we are using fossil fuels, we’ll have the question of what to do with the carbon dioxide,” said Rajeshwar. “ An attractive option would be to convert greenhouse gases to liquid fuel. That’s the value-added option.” While current experiments have been done on a small scale, Rajeshwar and his fellow UT Arlington researchers aim to scale the process up to create commercial products. They are currently raising funds to achieve their goal.
A new partnership continued from page 3
Pharma and San Antonio’s Cardiovate, helped serve as the liaison to the UT System Board of Regents on the Technology Transfer and Research Committee, created a search engine to open access to UT’s technologies, patents and research capabilities, and is now in discussion to form a new entrepreneurial academy called ‘StartUT’. Effective May 10, 2013, the UT System Office of Technology Commercialization reports to Dr. Patricia Hurn, Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation who takes over from former Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Barry Burgdorf. Dr. Hurn serves as the chief health research officer to the UT System and its six academic health center campuses. Her focus is on building collaborative models of bio-health research, creating innovative “Research leads to discovery and new knowledge and is absolutely essential for its own sake and to the stature of our institutions. But it is equally important to turn some of that discovery, when matured to the right level, into intellectual property (IP) and companies destined to develop that IP ,” Dr. Hurn said. In addition to her UT System leadership role, Hurn is an active neuroscientist and is internationally known for her work in understanding the cellular and molecular basis of gender differences in response to experimental brain injury. Having a background in research, Dr. Hurn understands the importance of commercializing new technologies. Mr. Allinson added, “The new reporting relationship, what I view as a partnership with Dr. Hurn, will enable the UT System to double its efforts on helping UT institutions remove roadblocks, focus us on the discovery to commercialization life cycle and be sustainable.” He added, “We are very excited about the structure which has already paid immediate dividends for the UT System OTC and the UT Horizon Fund.”
science education programs and constructing technological systems and infrastructure for the mission of discovery.
“The benefits of commercialization extend past research and into community,” Dr. Hurn said. “We have a strong responsibility to our community, our students and patients to carry research to this next step in what many refer to as the ‘discovery life cycle’. The Horizon Fund was created to meet that responsibility and that vision is evident in its investment design.”
Slimmer, sleeker, tinier, with increased, long-lasting functionality — that’s the name of the game when it comes to the future of mobile device design. But keeping up with these demands has its limitations. And time is running out.
THE TECH: Cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras and the like use non-volatile flash memory — electronically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) that maintains stored information without requiring a power source. But loading up ever-shrinking devices with more and more features requires more power. The problem is that current flash memory technology, specifically its fabrication and materials, is reaching the limits of its ability to shrink down to the size needed to keep pace with evolving technology. Striking a balance between flash memory technology and future mobile device design has been a constant struggle for engineers. But researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Microelectronics Research Center may have the answer. The new channel material and new channel design also reduce the energy required for programming. The combined result is a new flash memory cell capable of fast programming under low voltage and/or low power operating conditions with a much lower failure rate. Through the use of new materials, UT Austin researchers can continue to scale down flash memory to meet lower power demands. A new design featuring an array of quantum dots — tiny or nanosized semiconductors — combined with a new tunneling layer material enables flash memory devices to use very low amounts of power while being able to store data without significant levels of leakage.
T H E TA R G E T:
While this new flash memory technology is still in its proof of concept stage, all signs point to commercialization. When you consider the world’s estimated six billion cell phone subscribers, according to a recent United Nations study, and sale of tens of millions of MP3 players and digital cameras each year (both slowly being taken over by smartphones), this new technology will arrive none too soon. In fact, it would be easier to identify people who won’t be using this technology than it would be to define its target market. While cell phones, digital cameras and MP3 players are some of the most widely used consumer items that will benefit from this technology, literally any electronic device that uses flash memory has the potential to be enhanced. For example, image acquisition and semiconductor laser technologies would benefit from higher resolution that the quantum dot array can provide. Perhaps the most important benefit this technology provides is making electronic mobile devices more accessible to those who cannot afford or do not have reliable access to power. Because faster, more efficient devices require less time plugging in and charging up, more people will be able to connect, play, learn, see and do more.
Scaling down to keep up -quantum dots boost future of mobile devices
Medical devices such as urinary catheters, endotracheal tubes and central venous catheters are the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections in high-risk patients. Data shows that 300,000 cases of nosocomial (hospitalacquired) pneumonias occur annually in the U.S. Dr. Issam Raad of UT MD Anderson may have found a solution.
T H E TA R G E T:
Almost 50 million surgeries are performed in the U.S. every year. The amount of people that could benefit from Dr. Raad and his fellow researchers’ innovation is significant. In addition to benefit surgical patients, antimicrobial coating could be instrumental in saving the lives of people in developing countries. Doctors concerned about performing procedures in an unsterile environment now have an effective method to prevent infection. Dr. Raad’s team has developed 33 issued inventions, with 16 additional patents. These include vascular catheters, urinary catheters and endotracheal tubes.
UT MD Anderson researcher invents method to make sure that sterile surgical tools stay clean
The UT System on
Engaging our community
Keeping the UT System community and followers around the world current on the exciting developments and research coming out of the UT System is easy, thanks to Twitter. In 140 characters or less, all 15 UT institutions, as well as UT System, are using the Twittersphere to communicate everything from clinical trial progression and new venture funding to academic recognition and events.
O N T WI T T E R :
UT EL PASO
ON TW ITTER :
UTA receives $7.5 million donation from Japanbased Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, the largest philanthropic donation in the history of the university
High-performance computing gets a new home in West Texas as the Research and Academic Data Center moves into its new home at UTEP
O N T WI T T E R :
UT PAN AMERICAN
ON TW ITTER :
The University of Texas at Austin has been ranked 27th in the 2013 Times Higher Education World Rankings- a five-point climb from its 32nd ranking in 2012
UTPA’s College of Health Sciences and Human Services looks to engage the community by distributing health education material at public gatherings
O N T WI T T E R :
UT PERMIAN BASIN
ON TW ITTER :
Support continues to grow in the legislature to open the Permanent University Fund endowment to UT Brownsville and UT Pan American
UTPB Women’s basketball team are once again the Hearthland Conference champions and are ranked #5 in the NCAA South Central region
O N T WI T T E R :
UT SAN ANTONIO
ON TW ITTER :
UTD’s 12th annual ChessFest allows students to play against two blindfolded grandmasters (the highest ranking possible) from the UTD chess team
The UTSA Honors College raised $161,765 for student scholarships, research stipends and other applications at the 2013 Great Conversation!
UT MEDICAL BRANCH – GALVESTON
O N T WI T T E R :
ON TW ITTER :
An FDA-approved drug intended to treat insulin resistance in diabetics has been shown to improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease
UT Tyler biology department awarded $70,000 from the Texas Parks and Wildlife department to study endangered species of mussels in Texas
UT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER – HOUSTON
O N T WI T T E R :
UT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER – SAN ANTONIO
ON TW ITTER :
Doctors at UT Health propose a study to evaluate the treatment of traumatic head injuries, as current treatments have a fatality rate of up to 70%
UTHSCSA researchers discover a link between insulin sensitivity and cells’ energy sources, a link that could one day be exploited to treat type 2 diabetes
UT MD ANDERSON
O N T WI T T E R :
UT SOUTHWESTERN MEDICAL CENTER
ON TW ITTER :
UT MD Anderson doctors find that cancer vaccinations actually sabotage the immune system, causing T cells to attack the vaccination site, not the tumors
A study led by UTSW professor Beth Levine shows that augmenting the body’s innate ability to rid itself of cell waste could defend against West Nile
O N T WI T T E R :
UT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER – TYLER
ON TW ITTER :
#UTSystem regents approve guiding principles for new university in the RGV . #ProjectSouthTX
Lawmakers are debating state funding of cancer research, $37 million of which UTHSCT receives annually
Office of Technology Commercialization