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Deshpande Center Awards Grants

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 20 -- The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT this week awarded first-time research grants that could result in new products such as new material enabling flexible computer displays, gas masks that neutralize nerve agents, and laboratory-grown human liver cells that test new drugs.

Follow-on innovation grants were also awarded to two research teams exploring commercial applications of their technologies: a medical imaging process designed to pinpoint tiny cancer tumors and a multispectral infrared array technology that could result in very-low-cost night-vision systems for military and security applications.

Recipients of the Fall 2005 grants (total value $600,000), are: Clark Colton (engineering department), for "Finding early-stage cancers using novel contrast agents for enhanced MRI;" Karen Gleason (chemical engineering), "Novel conductors for flexible, robust electronic displays and devices;" Lionel Kimerling and Anu Agarwal (materials science and engineering), "Low-cost multispectral infrared detector arrays;" T. Alan Hatton, "Catalytic particles for rapid decontamination in carbon filters and clothing;" and Sangeeta N. Bhatia (electrical engineering and computer science), "Human liver models for faster, safer drug development."

Colton's project addresses the problems of sensitivity and specificity with a unique MRI contrast agent. The agent enhances selectivity for tumor tissue, increasing the chance for detection of an early-stage tumor. With early-stage detection and treatment the biggest factor in saving the lives of cancer patients, this concept has the potential to be a disruptive technology that will change the way imaging for cancer is practiced, the center said.

Kimerling and Murthy Agarwal will explore the development of large-area monolithic photodetector arrays combining near-infrared (IR), mid-IR and far\IR detection using standard components; their project has applications in many defense programs, such as military night-vision applications, that use IR focal plane arrays (FPAs) for detection and intelligence. These programs require multispectral detectors enabling advanced infrared systems to "see" more clearly and to deliver better intelligence functions, such as target discrimination and identification. Their strategy is to improve the performance characteristics of large-area multispectral IR FPAs using novel pixels, while at the same time lowering costs. The project will also explore the possibility of bringing the large-area multispectral IR array technology from specialty to commodity pricing, generating disruptive, new commercial opportunities in this Smarket.

The Deshpande Center was established to support innovation and entrepreneurship from MIT research.

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Oct 2005
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