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.
With a gelling agent commonly used in preparing pastries, researchers from Texas A&M University have fabricated an injectable bandage to stop bleeding and promote wound healing. Kappa-carrageenan (obtained from seaweed) and nanosilicates were used to form injectable hydrogels to promote hemostasis (the process to stop bleeding) and facilitate wound healing via a controlled release of therapeutics. When kappa-carrageenan is mixed with clay-based nanoparticles, injectable gelatin is obtained. The charged characteristics of clay-based nanoparticles provide hemostatic ability to the hydrogels. Specifically, plasma protein and platelets form blood adsorption on the gel surface and trigger a blood-clotting cascade. The injectable gel can be introduced into a wound site using minimally invasive approaches. The injectable bandages show a prolonged release of therapeutics that can be used to heal a wound.
Contact: Brian Blake, Texas A&M University
Temperature-Sensitive Coating for Measurement to 600 °C
NASA’s Glenn Research Center developed a temperature-sensitive coating based on hematite (iron III oxide). Painted onto a surface, the coating gradually changes color from a reddish-brown at room temperature to black-gray at 600 °C. The color change is reversible and repeatable as temperature cycles from low to high and back again. The technology greatly improves on conventional photoluminescence techniques that work only with high-intensity, short-wavelength light. Because the innovation works in white light, color changes can be detected and recorded using low-cost sensors instead of single-point or global-imaging-based detectors. The coating is inexpensive and easy to apply, and it contours to complex shaped surfaces. Applications include aerospace, automotive exhaust and engine thermal measurement, heat treatment systems for metal, and heating systems.
Contact: Glenn Research Center
Material for Improved Ultrasound
A new material developed at Penn State University features twice the piezo response of any existing commercial ferroelectric ceramic. Piezoelectricity is the material property at the heart of medical ultrasound, sonar, active vibration control, and many sensors and actuators. A piezoelectric material has the ability to mechanically deform when an electric voltage is applied, or to generate electric charge when a mechanical force is applied. Adding small amounts of samarium — a carefully selected rare earth material — to a high-performance piezoelectric ceramic called lead magnesium niobate-lead titanate (PMN-PT) dramatically increases its piezo performance. The material can be used in transducers, such as those used in medical ultrasound.