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.
Antigen Test Detects COVID and Flu Viruses
Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed a chip-based antigen test that can provide ultrasensitive detection of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A, the viruses that cause COVID-19 and flu, respectively.
The test is sensitive enough to detect and identify individual viral antigens one by one in nasal swab samples. This technique could eventually be developed as a molecular diagnostic tool for point-of-care use.
The biosensor detects individual proteins and identifies the antigens for multiple diseases at the same time from one sample. This is important for diseases such as COVID-19 and flu, which have similar symptoms.
Contact: Tim Stephens
Periodic Wave Disc Brake Rotor
Developed by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the Periodic Wave Disc Brake Rotor is designed for potential applications in racecars, motorcycles, and electric vehicles (EVs) equipped with regenerative braking systems.
The technology provides dramatic weight reduction along with high heat dissipation — two of the primary challenges associated with high-performance braking systems.
This is accomplished through the proprietary concept of combining the forced convection, radiation, and conduction of airflow over the brake rotor’s surface. The rotor can be implemented into existing vehicles with hub-mounted or wheel rim-mounted brake systems.
Contact: NASA’s Licensing Concierge
System Switches an Object’s Colors and Patterns
MIT has developed a way to rapidly update imagery on object surfaces.
The system, called ChromoUpdate, pairs an ultraviolet (UV) light projector with items coated in light-activated dye. The projected light alters the reflective properties of the dye, creating colorful new images in just a few minutes.
The advance could accelerate product development, enabling product designers to churn through prototypes without getting bogged down with painting or printing. It could be used for real-time notifications without relying on screens; for example, a coffee mug that can show the user’s daily schedule when put in the projector system and programmed.