Inventors’ competition lauds small breakthroughs

Oct. 29, 2003 — The 2003 Collegiate Inventors Competition has recognized several students with small tech innovations.


Jamie Link, a graduate student in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), won the $50,000 top prize for developing nanoparticle silicon chips that could rapidly and remotely detect biological and chemical agents. She made the discovery when a silicon chip accidentally broke in the process of making a multilayer film of porous silicon on crystalline substrate. She found that she could make the particles different colors and program them to detect substances.


Cornell University graduate students Keith Aubin and Robert Reichenbach, and research associate Maxim Zalalutdinov shared $25,000 for building a silicon-based, micromechanical electronic generator using physical properties of nanoscale materials. Patents have been filed and commercial groups are discussing licensing the technology, which could replace expensive, bulky parts in cell phones, computers, radios and televisions.


A trio from Northwestern University also shared $25,000 for developing a process of using light to control silver nanoprisms that could be used for biological labeling, inks, specialized films and cosmetics. The team consisted of doctoral students Rongchao Jin and Gabriella Metraux, and Yunwei Charles Cao, now a faculty member at University of Florida.


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