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This item originally appeared in the April 7, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

The Institute for Micromanufacturing was given a $1 million grant by the U.S. Department of Defense in February.

Dr. Kody Varahramyan, the director of the IfM and a professor of electrical engineering, said, "This funding will supply work on the development of technology platforms for the realization of micro/nano based systems for civil and defense applications."

Varahramyan said the Department of Defense does not give money to every college.

"You must have something going and it must be a proven success," Varahramyan said.

Varahramyan said the IfM submitted a proposal to the department of defense that highlighted the research development efforts that they will carry out with the funds when they receive them.

"We have effectively identified and supported several research projects that meet the overall objectives," Varahramyan said.

Varahramyan said a large amount of faculty and students that come from many different programs in the College of Engineering and Science are associating in projects that carry out research in micro/nano systems.

"Learning this new research puts [the students] ahead of the competition," Varahramyan said. "The experience our students get here will give them excellent job offers all over the region and nation."

Varahramyan said with the grant the IfM can buy supplies, maintain equipment and continue to expand their research and education efforts.

"What makes [the IfM] unique is that we have a comprehensive sense of well-integrated micro and nano resources and project technologies," Varahramyan said.

"Those who have contributed from a research point of view are happy to be a part of it."

Varahramyan said funding from the grant supports graduates and undergraduates by hiring them to conduct research.

Under the supervision of Dr. Chester Wilson, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Dr. Scott Gold, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, six students are working on what will be one of the world's first integrated liquid chromatography systems with an ultraviolet optical source.

"We miniaturize the plasma light and then dope up the nano particles," Wilson said.

Wilson said this project is broken down into two teams.

The first team of three students to work with Wilson deal with something called "brilliant dust." The second team made up of three students worked with Gold to do all the bio trickery.

"My project which deals with the development of a whole new category of on-chip tunable optical sources, which can act as light source for many biomedical and biological applications," Kalyani Peri, a grad student mastering in biomedical engineering, said.

Peri said she thinks her research will explain the whole new physics taking place in nano dusty plasmas.

"The ultimate goal of my project is to design tiny on-chip tunable light source which can be used for fluorescence of bio-molecules and proteins like tryptophan," Peri said.

"It can be used as a light source in portable optical spectrometers as well as the light source in the devices used for diagnosing cancers. So, such devices are very useful for people."

Wilson said the second team works with a protein filtration system.

"This chip will be a small portable medical diagnostic device, which will be used to detect diseases at an earlier stage," Wilson said.

Wilson said the project is going well and is moving ahead of schedule.

"We like to think a lot," Wilson said. "Every now and then you get lucky with an idea, and we got lucky."

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