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02-024
For Release: April 2, 2002

Katherine K. Martin
Media Relations Office
216/433-2406
katherine.martin@grc.nasa.gov

Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office
216/433-8806
lori.j.rachul@grc.nasa.gov


2002 CTO Fund Award Winners Announced by NASA Center

Imagine avoiding a hospital stay for a child by using a simple breath test to predict an impending asthma attack - made possible by a sensor originally developed to measure the emissions of aircraft engines.

Visualize an accident victim whose surgeon can accurately monitor the integrity of his repaired spine in the years ahead, using a hand-held reading device in his office without time-consuming x-rays - based on an antenna design technology originally developed to communicate with satellites.

These are some of the possibilities that could result from work performed by the winners of the 2002 CTO Fund competition sponsored by NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland. This program was designed with two goals: to bring technology developed at Glenn to a point where a company would be willing and able to commercialize it; or to develop a competency in an emerging technology area of interest to the Center.

The examples given are part of the increased focus being pursued by Glenn in conjunction with the Greater Cleveland BioEnterprise development effort, and the increased emphasis on the study of fundamental biology within NASA. Other award winners' efforts are being pursued in the more traditional application of aerospace technology to industrial products and processes. These include: an oil-free turbomachinery program that has already achieved success in general aviation aircraft engines, by reducing weight and maintenance expenses; as well as software aimed at improving the ability to design and manufacture microelectromechanical (MEMS) devices.

The CTO Fund is an initiative of the Commercial Technology Office at Glenn, whose goal is to commercialize NASA technology for the benefit of U.S. industry. The fund is beginning its fourth year, and has invested approximately $2,000,000 in developing technologies identified via an annual competition among Glenn scientists and engineers.

A list of winners of the 2002 CTO Fund Awards follows:

CHARGE TRANSFER BASED FLUORESCENT DYES FOR BIOMEDICAL SENSOR APPLICATIONS
Innovator: Michael A. Meador
Collaborator: Enzyme Systems Products, Livermore, Calif.

Glenn has developed a family of fluorescent dyes that have high fluorescence efficiencies and are extremely sensitive to the nature of the medium in which they are dissolved. Enzyme Systems Products, a commercial supplier of protease inhibitors and fluorescent probes for protein expression, will evaluate the suitability of the dyes for monitoring protein expression. Glenn will work closely with Enzyme Systems Products to identify modifications that may be required to the dyes to optimize their performance in this application.

ADVANCED POWDER METALLURGY PROCESSING FOR PS304 SELF-LUBRICATING COMPOSITES
Innovator: Christopher DellaCorte
Commercial Partner: ADMA Products, Inc, Twinsburg, Ohio

Glenn recently patented a solid lubricant composite material designed to lubricate sliding components at temperatures above the capabilities of the best oils, greases and solid lubricants on the market today. ADMA Products, Inc, a recognized powder metallurgy leader, has recently licensed this patent, and is actively marketing the material. ADMA has received requests from industry to apply this technology as a free-standing solid lubricant material manufactured using powder metallurgy techniques. One of the primary applications being requested is the development of bushings for use in high-temperature machinery. Such bushings are typically made of brass and lubricated with oil. Bushings made of the Glenn material have demonstrated significantly longer wear and, because they do not require additional lubrication, reduced maintenance. Glenn and ADMA will refine and develop powder metallurgy processing techniques using the Glenn patented material specifically aimed at improving part uniformity and reducing the cost of the material.

CARDIAC ARRYTHMIA MONITORING SYSTEM
Innovator: David W. York
Collaborator: The MetroHealth System, Cleveland

Glenn, using computer technology developed in support of the International Space Station, will collaborate with David S. Rosenbaum, M.D. of MetroHealth to produce a breadboard remote monitoring system for patients suffering from actual or potential acute cardiac arrhythmia disorders. The system will obtain patient data remotely and transmit it to health professionals for monitoring via a secure Internet connection.

CARES/MEMS SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Innovator: Noel N. Nemeth
Commercial Partner: ANSYS, Inc, Canonsburg, Pa.

Glenn will complete its development of a computer code capable of predicting damage accumulation and the potential for rupture of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices from their manufacturing, operation and service conditions. The MEMS device market is large and growing, but is faced with difficulties in reducing the development cycle time, maximizing manufacturing yield rates, and minimizing the potential for costly failures in service of the devices. Glenn is a world leader in brittle material design methodology development, as evidenced by their Ceramics Analysis and Reliability Evaluation of Structures (CARES) Life Program developed over the last 15 years, and used by hundreds of different companies and universities. This code has been modified over the last 2 years, and coupled to the commercially available ANSYS finite element analysis program, allowing it to predict useful service life of MEMs devices under generalized loadings. The final program will be made available, free of charge, to interested parties by completing a software use agreement.

MICROSENSOR DEVELOPMENT FOR EARLY DIAGNOSIS OF ASTHMA ATTACKS
Innovator: Gary Hunter
Collaborators: Case Western Reserve University, The MetroHealth System, Cleveland, and Makel Engineering, Chico, Calif.

Glenn will work with collaborators at Case Western Reserve University, MetroHealth, and Makel Engineering to analyze the ability of the chemical sensors they are commercializing for aerospace applications for use in biomedical applications and develop new microsensor technologies as necessary. The specific application to be explored is the release of a number of chemical and neurologic mediators associated with acute asthma attacks. Sensor measurements to be explored include properties external to the patient, and internal to the airway surface, before, during and after an acute asthma attack. The overall goal is to correlate the internal and external sensors, leading to the development of a sensor system that can be used by a patient to diagnose and medicate prior to actually experiencing an acute asthma attack.

USE OF ATOMIC OXYGEN TEXTURED POLYMER SURFACES FOR TEXTURED POLYMER CELL CULTURING DISHES
Innovators: Bruce Banks and Sharon Miller
Collaborator: Corning, Incorporated, Kennebunk, Me

Glenn low Earth orbital atomic oxygen beam facilities, developed for use in the Space Shuttle, will be evaluated. Texturing techniques used in these facilities will be applied by Corning to texture polymer cell culturing dishes. The textured surface may reduce the shear stress of the culture fluid that tends to rupture cell membranes and cause cell death.

RADIOFREQUENCY TELEMETRY FOR BIOMICROELECTROMECHANICAL (BioMEMS) SENSORS AND ACTUATORS
Innovators: Felix Miranda and Rainee Simons
Collaborator: The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland

The objective of this program is to adapt Glenn Radio Frequency (RF) technology, developed in support of the communications program, to the development of novel miniature conformal antennas and signal processing circuits to BioMEMS sensors and actuators. This would lead to a novel integrated inductor/antenna for contact-less powering of BioMEMS sensors and actuators through electromagnetic coupling to a hand held device, as well as the development of integrated signal processing circuits for command and control of the actuator as well as for relaying data from the sensor to the hand held read-out device. The researchers hope that this will lead to implantable sensors with higher accuracy, minimal power dissipation into surrounding tissue, and no wires through the skin.

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