Frontiers Conference 2014

The Research Triangle MRSEC was proud to be the featured research center for Duke University’s Frontiers 2014 conference for industry technology transfer.

The event, hosted by the Pratt School of Engineering on May 12, 2014 at the Fitzpatrick Center, featured research presentations from speakers representing the Research Triangle MRSEC as well as other Duke University research groups, panel sessions with industry representatives and Duke Office of Licensing and Ventures, and a poster session which showcased research within the MRSEC.

MRSEC Members and Research Presentations Featured at Frontiers 2014

Ben Wiley

Title: Flexible, Transparent, Conducting Networks of Metal Nanowires

Abstract: There is an ongoing drive to transform rigid, glass-based flat-panel devices (e.g. displays, solar cells, organic LEDs) into flexible devices on plastic substrates in order to improve flexibility, reduce weight, and reduce cost. The high cost, brittleness, and slow coating process (<0.01 m/s) of the standard transparent conducting material, indium tin oxide (ITO), is limiting realization of these goals. This presentation will discuss the replacement of ITO with networks of metal nanowires. Metal nanowires can be produced in scalable, solution-phase syntheses, and can be coated from liquids at high rates (>1 m/s). Nanowire networks can be flexed more than 1000 times with no change in their conductance, can be made from earth-abundant metals (Cu, Ni), can carry high currents (0.5 A/cm2), can be rendered stable against oxidation, and have equivalent optoelectronic properties as ITO. Nanowire networks can thus enable the production of low-cost, highly robust flexible electronics. This work is patent pending.

Charles Wyatt Shields

Title: Elastomeric Particles from Silicone Gels for Acoustophoretic Bioseparations

Abstract: We have developed a class of elastomeric particles comprised of silicone materials with tunable mechanical properties and narrow size distributions. These particles are prepared from nucleation and growth methods, thus providing intrinsic scalability that can greatly exceed the production rates of microfluidic-based approaches. Their programmable acoustic behaviors afford the elastomeric particles the ability to experience forces that allows their rapid separation from cells in acoustic standing waves. As a leading example, we show these particles can be functionalized with biomolecules to specifically capture proteins, viruses or rare cell populations for continuous sorting in acoustic fields. Patent for this technology is currently pending.

Vrad Levering

Title: Active Surfaces for Control of Biofouling

Abstract: Surface biofouling, the unwanted accumulation of material, biomolecules, cells (including microbes) and attaching organisms (referred to as a biofilm) upon submersed surfaces, is a devastating problem in many industrial, military and medical applications. Biofouling in industrial and military applications requires greater than $15 billion to manage annually. Biofilms in medical applications cost 100’s of millions to manage annually, while also causing patient injury and contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. We have developed active surface technologies to control biofouling and demonstrated dramatic results for control of both medically and maritime-relevant biofouling. Patents for the general new biofouling control technology and the anti-biofilm medical catheter technology are pending.

Ashutosh Chilkoti

Low cost, point-of-care diagnostics

PEGylation of protein therapeutics

Gabriel Lopez

Title: Simple Assays for Proteases

Abstract: The precise and accurate detection of proteases is an important tool for both disease diagnosis and drug discovery. Towards application to both needs, we have developed a rapid, inexpensive, highly precise, yet simple protease assay based on protease-dependent precipitation of genetically engineered polypeptides that form nanoscopic micelles. In this assay, cleavage of a soluble peptide segment containing a specific protease-recognition sequence from the engineered peptide induces transition of the small micellar particles to large aggregates, resulting in increased turbidity. Protease concentration can be accurately determined by the time dependence of appearance of turbitity. As an example using this technology, we can precisely quantify matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) presence in buffer and human serum. In addition, we have also developed a low cost prototype instrument for point-of-care diagnostics. Patent for this technology is currently pending.

Method and Device for Acoustically Enhanced Magnetophoresis for Rapid Cellular Sorting (AeMACS)

Lopez, G.; Yellen, B.; Gao, L; Murdoch, D.

Researchers at Duke University have developed high throughput cellular sorting system. The Duke approach enables general solutions which are implementable over a broad range of conditions, applications and devices / equipment.  For more info click here.

Contact:  Gabriel Lopez (

Elastomeric Particles for Acoustic Bioseparations and Cellular Sorting

Lopez, G.; Shields, C.; Johnson, L.; Gao, L.

Duke Researchers have recently devised a method for rapidly generating large quantities of uniform particles with tunable sizes, properties, and surface functionality. Using this process to generate particles with elastomeric behaviors, they have developed a new generation of cell sorting technology using acoustic forces in microfluidic devices. For more info click here.

Contact:  Gabriel Lopez (

Simple, Liter-Scale Synthesis of Gold Nanorods

Gold nanorods (GNRs) have already demonstrated their potential in a broad range of applications ranging from medicine and pharmacology to renewable energy and catalysis, often in composite materials or as parts of more complex molecular systems. The methods practiced currently produce GNR solutions in small, polydisperse volumes and require a considerable amount of time to produce even tens of milligrams.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a simple liter-scaled synthesis for highly concentrated and monodisperse GNRs with optical properties that have been optimized for biomedical applications. To address the low capacity of GNR production, they have made important modifications to existing methods. The improved method requires significantly less manual labor, completes the reaction in less time, completely utilizes the gold precursor and results in GNR solutions with optical properties that indicate improved GNR size and shape monodispersity. This synthetic method may also quickly be transitioned into commercial production, because all reagents are commercially available.

Even though previous studies of GNR synthesis state that mixing the reaction solution leads to detrimental effects, the researchers have been able to mix the solution, which allows for the reaction to be performed more quickly and in an automated manner. This method involves a simple and quick secondary growth step accomplished in an unconventional manner that contradicts many currently upheld conventions in the GNR synthesis literature.

Hence, this invention is best known for its economical synthesis of high-quality gold nanorods which will further facilitate the applications and commercial uses of GNRs.

For more information, click here.

Contact:  Brian Eller (beller at

Active Biofouling Control System (Environmental)

Zhao, X.; Lopez, G.; Shivapooja, P.; Wang, Q.

Researchers at Duke University have developed dynamic topological surface technologies to control biofouling. The Duke approach enables general solutions which are implementable over a large range of conditions, applications and devices / equipment.  The group is currently focusing on coatings specific to marine applications.  For more info click here.

Contact:  Gabriel Lopez (

Active Biofouling Control System (Medical)

Duke Researchers have devised dynamic topological surface technologies to control biofilm and wound capsule formation typical to medical devices.  Using these methods, they have also developed low-cost catheter technology that actively removes biofilms from lumenal surfaces.  For more info click here.

Zhao, X.; Lopez, G.; Levering, V.; Shivapooja, P.; Wang, Q.

Contact:  Gabriel Lopez (


Event Date: 
Mon, 05/12/2014 (All day)