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Eight engineering faculty receive Deshpande Center grants

The MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation has issued its newest round of grants to eight faculty members in the School of Engineering for projects in areas including low-cost medical devices, microfluidics, radio-frequency MEMS, nanomanufacturing and privacy for portable electronics.

The Deshpande Center awarded eight grants totaling $612,000 -- four Ignition grants, which fund proof of concept explorations, and four Innovation Program grants, which help reduce technical and market risk for promising innovations.

The grant recipients and their projects are:

George Barbastathis, the Esther and Harold Edgerton Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, for an ultra-fast low actuation voltage RF MEMS switch. The device could lead to the first commercially viable replacement for solid-state switches, paving the way for radio frequency products in testing, military radar and consumer wireless markets.

Vladimir Bulovic, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), for a slim-format, PDA-size spectrometer that would cost much less than other portable spectrometers and could benefit other devices ranging from point-of-care medical devices to environmental sensors.

Srini Devadas, professor of EECS, for an approach to authenticating and protecting digital information in portable devices. This method could make devices like smart cards unclonable and could have applications in digital rights management, particularly in low-powered devices such as cell phones and PDAs.

Fredo Durand, assistant professor of EECS, for a technique for tonal management for digital photography and video. The technique could compensate for low light, capture the style of master photographers, and improve the quality of medical imaging and video surveillance.

Richard Lanza, senior research scientists in nuclear engineering, for low-cost X-ray imaging systems using off-the-shelf scanners and personal computers. The systems could be a boon to medicine in developing countries and also have potential homeland security and inspection applications.

Alexander Slocum, professor of mechanical engineering, for growth of long, strong carbon nanotube fibers. This could be the first commercially viable way to produce these fibers, whose properties could create new classes of composite materials.

Francesco Stellacci, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, for contact printing as a means of bridging nanolithography with industrial production. The approach could solve the most elusive challenge facing nanotechnology: scaling the manufacturing process.

Todd Thorsen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for a microfluidic platform for high-density multiplexed biological assays, a less expensive and more productive platform for identifying genes and proteins.

The Deshpande Center was created in 2002 to help bridge the gap between the laboratory and the marketplace. The center helps researchers bring their ideas to fruition by supporting market-driven innovation in MIT laboratories and aiding collaboration among entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and faculty.

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