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Three from MIT are Discover award finalists

Three MIT technologies are finalists in the 1999 Discover Magazine Awards for Technological Innovation. These inventions are among 27 selected by a Discover editorial panel as finalists in nine categories from almost 4,000 entries.

The principal researchers will be guests of Discover at an awards ceremony at Epcot/Walt Disney World Resorts in Florida on June 5. One finalist will receive a $100,000 prize presented by the federally chartered Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation. All finalists will be profiled in the July edition of Discover.

The MIT researchers, their inventions and award categories are:

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

Professor James G. Fujimoto, electrical engineering and computer science. Professor Fujimoto is a member of the Research Laboratory of Electronics, where the OCT work was conducted.

OCT is a new system for performing high-resolution, cross-sectional tomographic imaging. Measuring the intensity of back-reflected infrared light (as opposed to sound waves), OCT has a resolution 10 times greater than conventional ultrasound.

OCT can perform "optical biopsies," imaging at a resolution approaching conventional biopsy but in real time and without the need for removing tissue. OCT will have applications in diagnosing retinal and cardiovascular diseases, detecting cancer and guiding surgery.

Microplasmatron Fuel Converter For Vehicle Pollution Reduction

Daniel R. Cohn, head of Plasma Technology Division, Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

This fuel converter -- about the size of a large soup can -- works as an onboard "oil refinery." It converts a wide variety of fuels into high-quality, hydrogen-rich gas. Adding only a small amount of such gas to the fossil fuel powering a car reduces emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxides by up to 90 percent.

Electronic Ink

Joseph Jacobson, assistant professor, Program in Media Arts and Sciences.

This technological innovation provides a means of making an addressable electronic display on a piece of paper or plastic. The image remains intact until it is re-addressed.

Discover finalists were named in nine categories: Computers, Interaction, Transportation, Exploration, Medical Diagnostics, Emerging Technologies, Editor's Choice/Assistive Technologies, Environment and Personal Entertainment. The winners will be selected by a panel, including astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Wally Schirra, futurist Danny Hillis, magicians Penn and Teller, argonaut Sylvia Earle, and artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin L. Minsky of MIT's Media Lab, among others.

A version of this article appeared in the April 28, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 28).

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