University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Silver Nanoparticles Detection and Analysis in Complex Matrices
Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are the most commonly used nanoparticles in many consumer products and related matrices. Given the wide application and formation of AgNPs, the environmental and biological fate and toxicity of the AgNPs needs to investigated comprehensively, including if AgNPs transfer through different trophic levels and impact food chains. This invention was developed by combining hydrophobization-mediated extraction with unique capability of Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).
Published: 9/13/2016   |   Inventor(s): Lili He, Baoshan Xing, Huiyuan Guo
Category(s): Devices, Diagnostic technology, Environmental, Healthcare, Engineering, Nanotechnology
Baterial Detection Platform
This invention invention is a bacterial detection platform integrating sensitive surface-enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) capabilities and advanced mapping technique that generates detailed chemical images based on a sample’s Raman spectrum. The identification is based on the fingerprint of the bacterial SERS spectra.  The quantification of the cells will be based on the mapping technique
Published: 9/13/2016   |   Inventor(s): Lili He
Category(s): Diagnostic technology, Food technology & plant science, Environmental, Healthcare, Nanotechnology
Stable, Biocompatible and “Green” Protein Films for Antifouling, Antimicrobial and Tissue Engineering Applications
This invention provides protein films or coatings for antifouling, antimicrobial and tissue engineering applications, and scalable, environment-friendly methods for fabricating the films. The films are water-stable, biocompatible and resistant to protein and bacterial fouling, and can be made to direct human cell adhesion, alignment and growth. The films can be fabricated on both hard and flexible substrates of any shape, and the fabrication process does not involve the use of environmentally hazardous materials such as organic solvents or chemical crossslinkers. The biodegradability of the films can be tuned to enable controlled release of functional or therapeutic agents.
Published: 6/19/2015   |   Inventor(s): Vincent Rotello, Bradley Duncan, Li-Sheng Wang, Eunhee Jeoung, Chandramouleeswaran Subramani, Krishnendu Saha
Category(s): Biotechnology, Environmental, Engineering, Healthcare, Life Sciences
Deoxybenzoin-based Anti-flammable Polyphosphonate and Poly(arylate-phosphonate) Copolymer Compounds
Synthetic polymers are used extensively as plastics, rubbers, foams, textiles, and construction materials; however, the flammability of many polymers is recognized as a safety hazard and an important challenge in polymer research. To reduce polymer flammability, halogenated small molecule flame-retardant additives are commonly incorporated into polymer materials. However, such halogenated additives may compromise polymer properties, and moreover pose environmental problems associated with additive leaching. To overcome these problems, researchers at UMass Amherst have developed halogen-free, inherently flame-retardant polymers. This invention provides deoxybenzoin-based anti-flammable polyphosphonate and poly(acylate-phophonate copolymer compounds with low heat release capacity values and high char yields.
Published: 6/19/2015   |   Inventor(s): Todd Emrick, T. Ranganathan, E. Bryan Coughlin, Richard Farris, Joseph Zilberman
Category(s): Chemicals, Environmental, Material science, Physical Science
Anti-flammable Compounds and Adhesive Materials
This invention provides new chemical compositions and methods for the preparation of adhesive materials that have low flammability. The low flammability is due to newly invented organic/polymeric components used in the adhesive formulation, rather than through the addition of a conventional anti-flammable additives such as halogenated organic molecules or phosphorous-containing structures.
Published: 6/17/2015   |   Inventor(s): Todd Emrick, Justin Timmons, Megan Szyndler
Category(s): Chemicals, Environmental, Material science, Physical Science
Production of Hydrogen, Liquid Fuels, and Chemicals from Catalytic Processing of Bio-Oils
Need for Advancements in Bio Oil Technology

Several companies have been formed around the fast pyrolysis technique. Fast pyrolysis is the rapid heating of biomass (up to 9000C) in the absence of oxygen. Process conditions cause biomass to vaporize and then liquefy into bio-oil. Bio-oil is viscous, acidic and thermally unstable. On account of the high oxygen content, it is also low in energy content. These features make it unsuitable for use as a liquid fuel. Upgrading it by removing the oxygen content and by converting some of the high molecular weight compounds is a significant challenge.

Published: 5/29/2015   |   Inventor(s): George Huber, Tushar Vispute, Kamalakanta Routray
Category(s): Environmental, Chemicals
Algal-sludge Granule for Wastewater Treatment and Bioenergy Feedstock Generation
Water and wastewater treatments consume 3-4% of energy, while 60% of energy used at the wastewater treatment plant is dedicated to aeration in the activated sludge process. This novel bio-granule called oxygenic bio-granule, proposes to transform wastewater treatment facilities into water resource recovery facilities. The oxygenic bio-granule results from the conversion of activated sludge under photochemical reactions. It is naturally formed and is composed of algae and bacteria within one granular biomass. The bio-granule is a dense, spherical aggregate of microorganisms that is a self-immobilized biofilm and forms in the absence of solid substratum. The cohabitation of algae and bacteria within the biogranule allows for an efficient symbiotic wastewater treatment process. The bacteria degrade organic matter utilizing O2 that is produced by the algae. In addition, the algae harvest CO2 produced from the organic matter degradation for photosynthesis. The biomass flocculates to be 0.2 to 10mm in size, which allows them to be easily separable from water.
Published: 5/28/2015   |   Inventor(s): Chul Park, Sona Dolan
Category(s): Engineering, Environmental
Monitoring Subsurface Microbial Activity in Real Time
Current microbial fuel cell technology for estimating rates of microbial metabolism involve expensive and sophisticated analytical techniques which require samples to be incubated thus dramatically changing the rate of microbial activity. Dr.

Lovley’s lab group has developed a novel microbial activity sensor functions in situ for monitoring microbial activity in real time of anaerobic soils, sediments, and groundwater by demonstrating a direct correlation between current levels and rates of microbial activity. This

novel invention can be applied to estimate rates in a wide range of soils and sediments as well

as heterogeneities in microbial activity both horizontally and vertically. The monitoring system consists of a non-poised graphite anode that is embedded in the anaerobic environment connected to an inexpensive resistor that leads to a conductive cathode. The cathode is situated on the surface of the environment and is comprised of electrically conductive

material. The anode is colonized by indigenous microorganisms capable of oxidizing organic compounds and hydrogen with electron transfer to the anode. The current between the anode and the cathode is then recorded with a commonplace device that measures electric current.

Published: 5/27/2015   |   Inventor(s): Derek Lovley, Kelly Nevin Lovley
Category(s): Biotechnology, Life Sciences, Environmental
Enhanced hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose into glucose
Selective hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose into glucose is an important chemical reaction for the production of renewable biofuels and platform chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass. However, hydrolysis of cellulose remains a processing challenge. The current methods are not economically feasible compared to petroleum and the enzymatic catalytic pathway utilizes toxic and corrosive acids. In contrast, this novel invention overcomes these limits via a two-step process for the hydrolysis of crystalline cellulose to increase the efficiency of the acid catalyzed hydrolysis reaction. This prevents re-lamination of the glucan chains thus allowing for a rapid production of water-soluble sugar oligomers. A carbon-based catalyst can then rapidly hydrolyze the water-soluble glucan oligomers to 91.2% glucose yield faster than conventional approaches due to enhanced adsorption of glucan oligomers on the carbon surface.
Published: 4/24/2015   |   Inventor(s): Wei Fan, Paul Jakob Dauenhauer, Paul Dornath
Category(s): Chemicals, Environmental, Engineering, Clean Energy
Rapid Colorimetric Sensor for Detection of Bacteria in Water
This technology provides nanoparticle-based colorimetric sensors in a test strip format for rapid detection of bacteria in water. In the presence of bacteria, the bacteria-nanoparticle interaction interferes with nanoparticle-dependent colorimetric reaction, leading to a visible output. Unlike other test strip products for bacterial detection, the test strips provided by this technology are very easy to use, have high shelf stability and detection sensitivity, and can be used for detection of a broad range of bacteria. In addition, these test strips can be produced using a high-throughput manufacturing process at minimal costs.
Published: 12/1/2014   |   Inventor(s): Vincent Rotello, Xiaoning a/k/a Sharlene Li, Brian Creran
Category(s): Devices & sensors, Biotechnology, Environmental, Life Sciences, Nanotechnology
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