Arbabi, Rao, and Srimathveeravalli Garner Technology Development Fund Awards from the UMass President’s Office
Three College of Engineering faculty members have received Technology Development Fund awards of up to $25,000 apiece from the Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV) at the UMass President’s Office. The awards to Amir Arbabi of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Siyuan Rao of the Biomedical Engineering Department, and Govind Srimathveeravalli of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department are among 10 grants totaling $250,000 invested in faculty research projects throughout the five-campus system. See Office of the President release.
Arbabi’s OTCV project is developing a low-cost prototype of programmable photonic chips (PICs) set by micro and nanoscale. Both academia and industry have pursued various approaches for reconfiguring photonic chips, but they have been hindered by their high-power consumption, large-device footprints, and limited reconfigurability.
Arbabi’s proposed reconfigurable PICs can be applied to such highly desirable devices and systems as lidar transceivers, large switches for optical communications, optical-quantum computers, and artificial-intelligence accelerators.
Rao’s research aims to provide a better soft-materials solution for recording neural activity and administering drugs in mobile-nerve regions. These hydrogel-based neural probes will be used for long-term electrophysiological recordings in injured spinal cords, with the soft-hydrogel structure of each probe matching the mechanical properties of nerve tissues.
Rao’s technique enables signal collection during movement, thus facilitating tracking of spinal-cord recovery and testing pharmacological interventions. Funding from the OTCV development fund will support these studies and further research into treatments for human spinal-cord injuries. The OTCV project represents an investigative yet synergistic step towards the soft-neural-probe-technology commercialization, aligned with Rao’s recently awarded NSF CAREER project.
Srimathveeravalli and his UMass Amherst team’s technology generates a “liquid sample,” which will allow physicians to extract biopsy samples from entire tumor volumes in a predictable fashion. This first-of-its-kind device will improve the diagnosis of prostate cancer in the growing population of men who will experience the disease.
Srimathveeravalli’s proposed work will perform refinements to the waveform used for extracting the genomic material from cells, with the goal of making the technique suitable for use in office-based clinical settings with minimal sedation requirements. His proposed activity will be coupled with ongoing translational testing of his prototype device with clinical partners. Short-term goals are focused on a startup company to license the technology for commercialization.
“These faculty innovations showcase how UMass continues to realize long-term growth and achievement in its commercialization enterprise,” said Carl Rust, Executive Director of Industry Engagement and Business Development, who oversees the OTCV initiative. (July 2023)