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February 5th, 2008
State Gives $500,000 to University and SiMPore Inc. to Develop Innovative Molecular Filter Technology
The University of Rochester and SiMPore Inc., a Rochester-based biotechnology company, have received nearly $500,000 from New York State to help commercialize an ultra-thin membrane invented by University scientists.
The grant, awarded by the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation ( NYSTAR ), is one of only two Technology Transfer Incentive Program grants given this year. The grants are designed to facilitate economic development in New York through university-based or corporate-sponsored research. SiMPore will match the NYSTAR grant to complete the project's funding.
The membrane is a porous silicon film so thin it's invisible edge-on, and may revolutionize the way doctors and scientists manipulate objects as small as a molecule. Despite being only 50 atoms thick, the filter can withstand surprisingly high pressures and may be a key to better separation of blood proteins for dialysis patients, speeding ion exchange in fuel cells, creating a new environment for growing neurological stem cells, and purifying air and water in hospitals and clean-rooms at the nanoscopic level. The technology will also enable researchers to identify and characterize molecules more readily so that scientists can study the roles these molecules play in health and disease.
"This grant will help us push into new frontiers of nanotechnology-based separations during the next two years," says James McGrath, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester and principal investigator on the grant. "By developing this membrane that can separate biological molecules, we're designing new tools which will ultimately speed medical discoveries."
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