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Spring 2001 research & technology projects

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing

McFarland Cascade, Tacoma
Researcher: Michael P. Wolcott, WSU Wood Materials & Engineering Laboratory
McFarland Cascade produces pressure treated lumber, plastic lumber and other specialty outdoor building materials. Wood-plastic composites are the newest form of wood-based building products. This project will develop advanced polystyrene blends to improve the processing and performance characteristic of wood-plastic composites in the commercial decking industry.

StressWave, Kent
Researcher: Brian D. Flinn, UW Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering
StressWave has developed a new technology that minimizes the cost of improving the fatigue life of holes in metal structures. The technology is easily automated and has been shown to increase fatigue life by a minimum of three times compared to untreated holes. This project will investigate new opportunities for the StressWave process that include but are not limited to automotive, industrial, and biomedical applications. Dr. Flinn will test, analyze and optimize StressWave's process of improving fracture strength and fatigue life in low ductility metals, single-sided and blind hole applications.

Biotechnology and Biomedical Devices

EKOS Corporation, Bothell
Researcher: Fatih Dogan, UW Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering
Encouraged by their own clinical trials, EKOS is pursuing the simultaneous use of ultrasound and thrombolytic drugs in the speedy dissolution of blood clots for use particularly in stroke management. Critical to the success of this procedure is the ultrasound transducer, the device that converts electrical energy to ultrasound energy for enhancing the delivery of clot-dissolving drugs. Using Dr. Dogan's ceramics expertise, the UW team will investigate improvement of mechanical properties of the piezoelectric ceramic and also evaluate and optimize a fabrication process for the strengthened material.

RS Medical, Vancouver
Researcher: Steven A. Martinez, WSU Dept. of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
In the U.S., approximately 250,000 lumbar spinal fusions are performed every year. Of these procedures, many require additional treatment due to unsuccessful fusion. Bone Growth Stimulation (BGS) devices are widely accepted in the orthopedic market to promote healing following spinal surgeries, increasing the success of the fusion. However, most of the existing devices are unable to focus on an exact area. This project will analyze the effect of two of RS Medical's bone growth stimulation devices that can target a specific bone area as well as provide stimulation to larger areas.

Microelectronics

IDmicro, Inc., Tacoma
Researchers: Denise Wilson, UW Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Doug St. John, UW Precision Forestry Cooperative
Already successful with radio frequency identification (RFID) applications, IDMicro is working with the UW to develop an application to be used in the forest products industry. In today's timber industry, tracking logs keep the high value logs from being incorrectly categorized and shunted into a lower value product stream. The UW team will develop an "injection gun" for inserting tags into trees as well as investigate the feasibility of using electric and electromagnetic information for additional sensing and measurement.

Related WTC links:

  • RTD Grant Program

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  • Microfabrication Laboratory news

    Deep Reactive Ion Etching System Arrives
    Due to be fully operational by the end of August, the Microfabrication Laboratory has added an Oxford Instruments PlasmaLab 100 ICP 180 system to its dry etching capabilities.

    Funding of over $500,000 for the tool--the latest in ion etching technology--comes from a variety of sources, including university departments and various companies involved with the Microfabrication Laboratory. The real advantage of this "Deep RIE" system is that it supports the Bosch process, a sophisticated technique for forming high aspect ratio microfabricated features in silicon--particularly deep, vertical channels with smooth sidewalls.

    An alternative to wet chemical processing, dry etching is a method of selectively removing material using a reactive plasma or ion beam to form complex microfabricated structures in substrates. It has significant application in forming MEMS (microelectromechanical) and microfluidic devices, which are gaining widespread use in aerospace, automotive, industrial, telecommunications, imaging, display, and medical applications.

    The Microfabrication Laboratory supports a full range of wafer fabrication processes, including diffusion, oxidation, metallization, photolithography, laser cutting, wafer dicing, packaging and characterization, in addition to wet and dry etching, all in a class 10,000 clean room environment. The facility is open to university and industrial users alike, and currently has over 130 registered users.

    The Deep RIE is an exciting addition to the growing array of microfabrication technologies available in WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory.

    Related WTC links:

  • Microfabrication Laboratory

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  • Washington's rate of job creation in startup companies is second highest in nation

    For Immediate Release: July 2, 2001

    Seattle - Washington's startup companies provide the second highest employment growth rate in the U.S.

    This according to a new report just released by Washington Technology Center -- the 2001 Index of Innovation and Technology for Washington State. Washington's rate increased to 33 percent over five years, thus moving the state from sixth place to second place.

    The state's innovation and entrepreneurial economy is thriving. This report presents quantitative information about more than 30 key indicators that establish a benchmark for assessing progress in Washington's growing technology-based economy. From these indicators, several conclusions can be drawn.

    Most importantly, Washington's young and growing companies continue to provide much of the growth in the state's economy.

    Several trends reported in last year's index are reinforced this year:

    -- Capital investment in Washington companies is growing, but at a rate much slower than in other regions of the country. Overall during the past two years, growth in venture investment has grown at slightly more than half the rate of the other major regions.
    -- Workforce issues remain challenging for companies. However, the extreme difficulty in filling technology job openings has decreased over the past two years.
    -- Most of Washington's technology employment is found in the central Puget Sound region, especially the western portion of King County. Employment in technology industries is increasing in most other regions of the state, but still remains a minority share overall.
    -- Washington's economy continues to rely heavily on trade. Washington has the highest per-capita trade sector of any of the major exporting states. Almost three-fourths of this trade is related to technology products--aircraft and software.
    -- Washington's higher education institutions are producing, in aggregate, fewer graduates in science and engineering than a few years ago. This, in spite of the fact that the demand for these graduates is rapidly increasing.
    -- Overall, Washington's quality of life continues to be an attractive feature of the state. Transportation issues are the biggest threat.

    "Washington's reputation as a global technology region is certainly supported by the findings in this report," said Dr. Lee Cheatham, WTC executive director and co-author of the report. "Our challenge is to maintain that leadership position and spread its effects to the state's entire economy."

    The report is co-authored by Dr. Paul Sommers, senior research fellow with the UW Northwest Policy Center and a member of Governor Locke's Council of Economic Advisors.

    Related WTC links:

  • 2001 Washington Index of Innovation and Technology

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