Friday, April 01, 2005

Transistor based on gold nanoparticles

from the Oregon Daily Emerald:

University of Oregon Professor Jim Hutchison received a patent on March 29, 2005 for an invention for making transistors out of gold nanoparticles through a method in which the gold nanoparticles are attached to a strand of DNA as a structural support and strung between the ends of the transistor. Hutchison said this process actually benefits from quantum mechanical tunneling.

Technology outreach officer Christine Gramer said Hutchison received a patent last May for developing a new way of synthesizing nanoparticles that is more productive and uses more environmentally benign materials than previous methods. His current patent is specifically for the electronic devices involved in his research, and Gramer said he has several other patents pending.

"The patent office only lets you have one patent per invention even if they're all related to each other," Gramer said.

It is currently uncertain when and how Hutchison innovations will appear in consumer electronic devices.

"We're investigating test structures in an academic research lab, and there's a big step from that to getting it into your wristwatch, your computer," Hutchison said.

However, development may be in the works.

"We're in the early stages of discussion with a potential licensee for this technology," said Brian Smith, senior technology development associate in the Office of Technology Transfer. When the University licenses technology invented on campus to companies that sell products or services based on the technology, profits are divided between the inventor, the inventor's department or laboratory, and the University. Smith said the University's share of profits earned through licensing of inventions like Hutchison is invested into new research, leading to an "innovation cycle."


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