Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

NIU Technology Transfer Office awards
2008 Technology Development Fund

December 1, 2008

Four NIU professors – David Hedin, Vishnu Zutshi, Chhiu-Tsu Lin and Pamela Macfarlane – are the recipients of the inaugural Technology Development Fund awards.

Offered by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies, the fund encourages and advances the development of novel applied technologies which have a near-term potential for licensing and commercialization.

A total of $50,000 was available in this year’s program to support development of three promising products.

David Hedin and Vishnu Zutshi
Department of Physics
“Developing Fabrication Techniques for Concave Compensated Cells”

Scintillators are substances that glow when hit by high energy particles, and they are commonly used to detect charged particles, such as electrons or protons. Scintillation cells monitor radiation levels in both nuclear applications and medicine and detect the presence of certain nuclei useful for homeland security applications. 

These NIU physicists have found a way to promote uniformity of performance in silver-dollar-sized scintillating cells by modifying the geometry with holes or dimples in the center of the cells. The procedure of adding these dimples to the cells currently is labor intensive and must be performed one at a time by a skilled machinist. The money awarded will develop new techniques to mass produce these dimpled cells at a reasonable cost.

Chhiu-Tsu Lin
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
“Molecular Fan”

Electronic devices, such as computers, are becoming increasingly smaller and more compact via miniaturization and concentration of densely packed parts. But as devices get smaller, there is a problem: Intense heat is generated from inside the electronic parts. Today’s cooling techniques are challenged to maintain effective heat dissipation. The result is overheated, unworkable products.

The NIU chemist has developed a unique thin film coating containing nanomaterials for use in heat management for electronic devices, especially nanoelectronic devices. The thin film coating can be designed and assembled on the surface of a coated substrate. The molecules on the coating surface can be energized by a heat source. The molecules then emit, or dissipate the energy, cooling the device.
Dr. Lin will use the award to continue his research and the development of the molecular fan in commercial parts and devices.

Pamela Macfarlane
Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education
“The PowerTool: Producing a Prototype”

Athletes know how to target sport-specific muscle groups and how to obtain the maximum benefit from their training exercises. Rapid changes in speed or direction, along with muscle quickness and strength, are key.

But when fatigue sets in, muscle reaction slows and the effectiveness of the exercise begins to diminish. If a feedback device measured muscle power with each repetition, the athlete would stop when the power decreases. 

The NIU professor has developed a unique portable power tester for testing reaction time and muscular power. The “PowerTool” utilizes the speed of movement in conjunction with the mass being moved to calculate muscle power. It provides power assessment for both healthy and injured athletes or can be a screening tool measuring the fall risk in patients with low leg power.

The “PowerTool” is a portable microprocessor device equipped with photo detectors and receivers as well as a digital display. It is effective for a wide variety of exercise movements deemed suitable for sport performance enhancement.

The fund dollars support the development of a newer streamlined model that resolves limitations of the current prototype. Additional research and development will include exploration of other instrumentation techniques to improve or enhance the instrument’s user interface performance.