This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
Nanowire Mask Eliminates Pathogens
As part of attempts to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic, paper masks are increasingly being made mandatory; however, they are not reusable. EPFL has developed a membrane made of titanium oxide nanowires, similar in appearance to filter paper, that has antibacterial and antiviral properties. The “paper” traps pathogens and destroys them with light. The material uses the photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide. When exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the fibers convert resident moisture into oxidizing agents, such as hydrogen peroxide, that have the ability to destroy pathogens. The masks can be sterilized and reused up to 1,000 times, alleviating shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and reducing waste. The membranes could also be used in air treatment applications such as ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Contact: EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne
Phone: +41 21 69 3 22 22
Fluid Lensing System for Underwater Imaging
The ability to accurately assess the status and health of shallow marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, is severely impaired. NASA Ames Research Center developed a remote sensing technology capable of imaging through ocean waves in 3D at sub-centimeter resolutions. The Fluid Lensing technology leverages optofluidic interactions, computational imaging, and fluid models to remove optical distortions. When used on drones, it is a means for 3D imaging of aquatic ecosystems from above the water's surface. Fluid lensing data are captured from low-altitude, cost-effective electric drones to achieve multi-spectral imagery over regional areas. It also can be used for in-space validation for remote sensing of shallow marine ecosystems from low Earth orbit.
Contact: Ames Technology Partnerships Office
Tiny 3D-Printed Bricks for Bone and Tissue Repair
Oregon Health & Science University designed tiny 3D-printed bricks to heal broken bones and build or repair soft tissue. Inspired by LEGO® blocks, the small, hollow bricks serve as scaffolding onto which both hard and soft tissue can regrow better than today's standard regeneration methods. The scaffolding can be stacked together and placed in thousands of different configurations. The hollow blocks can be filled with small amounts of gel containing various growth factors that are precisely placed closest to where they are needed. The 3D-printed technology could be used to heal bones that have to be cut out for cancer treatment or for spinal fusion procedures.