Innovation Forum 2008 Abstracts
Presenters at the April 2008 Innovation Forum sponsored by Princeton’s Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education:
Gregory Stock, CEO, Signum Biosciences
Signum Biosciences is a private biotechnology company dedicated to acquiring and developing effective, innovative, economical medicines to prevent and treat diseases of aging. Through research on protein networks that control biological systems – pioneered by Jeffry Stock, professor of molecular biology -- Signum is developing therapeutic candidates for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease and a variety of skin conditions.
Implantable Multi-Modal Therapeutic Device
Christian Theriault & Wole Soboyejo, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Localized drug delivery in the treatment of cancer has been the subject of much research. Currently, cancer patients receive chemotherapy through bulk systemic drug delivery, where high amounts and high concentrations of drugs are circulated through the body at regular intervals. Only a small percentage of the drug actually reaches cancer cells. The remainder of these compounds bring about side effects in various levels of severity for the patient. The laboratory of Wole Soboyejo has demonstrated that internal localized drug delivery can be achieved using a polymeric multi-level device.
The Dynamic Resource Management System (DRMS)
Warren Powell, Operations Research and Financial Engineering
Powell’s Castle Lab began in the 1980s in an effort to help freight transportation companies become more efficient using mathematical modeling, either through better planning or better real-time operations. These companies needed to solve very large-scale optimization problems in the presence of numerous forms of uncertainty. Classical optimization technology could not handle uncertainty, and simulation tools for handling uncertainty could not handle the optimization requirements. The Castle Lab combines these abilities in its core technology, the DRMS software library; several application products have been developed as the result of working with industrial sponsors. Castle Lab has produced the first production-quality optimization model for locomotive management (running at Norfolk Southern Railroad), and the first calibrated optimization model for truckload fleet management (Schneider National). Other fields of application include finance, energy, and the management of high-value replacement parts.
Mid-Infrared Quantum Cascade Lasers
Scott Howard, Kale Franz and Anthony Hoffman, Electrical Engineering
Primis Technologies, LLC, is a custom designer and producer of mid-infrared Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCL) with operation wavelengths spanning 3 to 30 µm. Primis lasers are suited for a wide variety of commercial applications in industries that require real-time identification of minute amounts of targeted molecules through absorption spectroscopy or sources of directed energy. QCLs enable highly sensitive measurement devices (as low as sub-ppb) for small footprint quantitative measurement instruments or specialized pieces of equipment. The commercial value of these lasers is enhanced by their low-cost, high-sensitivity, small footprint, ease of use, low/no maintenance, real-time measurement capability, and compatability with other instruments. These qualities make this platform ideal for environmental monitoring and industrial process control. Initial interest has been expressed by petrochemical companies looking to address health, safety, and environmental concerns.
A Combined Solar and Water Splitting Cell System
Gerard Dismukes & Rob Brimblecombe, Chemistry
Global energy demand is currently met using predominantly fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. The considerable problems associated with the use of fossil fuels – global warming, pollution and dwindling reserves leading to scarcity – are driving public, industrial and regulatory attention strongly towards renewable energy sources. Two such sources are solar energy and fuel cells. Solar energy relies on the capture and conversion of photons from sunlight into electrons -- that is, electricity. Fuel cells, and in particular hydrogen fuel cells, work by combining oxygen and hydrogen in a reaction that produces clean energy. Dismukes and Brimblecombe propose a solution in the form of a system that uses sunlight to convert water into oxygen, hydrogen, and electrical energy. Their major advance is the development of a photo-anode that oxidizes water into oxygen and hydrogen ions using sunlight as the source of energy.
New Antimicrobial Therapies That Target Bacterial Quorum Sensing
Lee Swem, Molecular Biology
Quorum sensing is a process of bacterial cell-cell communication that involves production, release and detection of secreted signaling molecules called auto-inducers. Quorum sensing allows populations of bacteria to collectively regulate gene expression and thereby act like multi-cellular organisms by carrying out tasks in synchrony. Quorum sensing plays a vital role in the pathogenicity of many bacteria because the ability to act as a coordinated group is essential for bacteria to successfully infect host organisms. Researchers in Bonnie Bassler’s lab have performed high-throughput chemical library screens to identify small molecules that disrupt detection certain types of auto-inducers, thereby interfering with production or detection of quorum sensing molecules. Such novel techniques have a broad range of clinical and industrial applications.
Low-Cost, Rapidly Tunable Optical Elements
Craig Arnold & Alexandre Mermillod-Blondin, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
The tunable acoustic gradient index (TAG) lens is a low-cost, programmable optical component easy to use in association with standard optical systems. This lens is capable of performing classical functions such as focusing, defocusing, or pattern formation. Initially developed for fast laser beam shaping, the TAG lens constitutes a rapid, scalable and reliable solution in many practical situations where optical scanning along the propagation direction is needed, including machine vision and imaging, confocal profilometry, and confocal microscopy.