April 10, 2014

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Utah Innovation Awards


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Utah Innovation Awards

Inventing a Better Tomorrow

By Devin Felix, Rachel Madison and Heather Stewart, Illustrations by Juliann Law

April 10, 2014

However, widespread commercial application of quantum dots has not yet been possible because the processes used to manufacture them are highly costly. Currently, a gram retails between $2,000 and $30,000. This is partly because their production requires temperatures of 200 to 360 degrees Celsius (392 to 680 Fahrenheit), and they can produce unwanted inconsistencies among batches.

Navillum Nanotechnologies created a process to manufacture quantum dots that is performed at lower temperatures and consistently has less variability among batches, which is critical for usefulness. This process allows the company to produce quantum dots in larger quantities and at a lower cost, improving their chances for widespread application.  

M-Vac Forensic DNA Collection Device by M-Vac Systems, Inc.

DNA evidence has become a crucial part of many crime investigations, and the M-Vac System is improving the way investigators gather that evidence.

The traditional methods for gathering DNA evidence at a crime scene, such as swabbing, have been in use for nearly 100 years and often don’t gather enough genetic material to allow for effective identification. M-Vac significantly improves the amount of genetic material that can be extracted from body fluids on surfaces. It works like an upholstery vacuum, spraying a sterile substrate onto the surface and vacuuming it up, along with possible DNA found in saliva, blood, sweat or other bodily fluids. This method has shown the ability to extract up to 88 percent more material than traditional swabbing methods.

The M-Vac has already proven useful to investigators. Last year, it was used to extract DNA from a rock that was used as a murder weapon in Wasatch County, leading to an arrest and the closure of an 18-year-old cold case.

TRIDION 9 GC-MS by Torion Technologies, Inc.

The TRIDION 9 GC-MS is the smallest and most portable scientific instrument that can separate complex mixtures of chemicals and indentify individual compounds. It was developed initially for the defense and security markets, so that battlefield soldiers could quickly and easily identify chemical warfare agents, but other industries have also shown interest. It is useful in areas as diverse as drug identification, forensics, food contamination, environmental contamination, product purity and fuel production.

One of TRIDION’s greatest advantages is its size. No similar product is as lightweight and portable. It can be carried like a briefcase, unlike similar products, which require some form of cart or vehicle to transport. It is also faster than others. It can identify chemicals quickly in the field, eliminating the days- or weeks-long waits that come with sending samples to a lab.

Torion’s engineers recognized that not all personnel who might be asked to use the system are chemical scientists, so they created the TRIDION with an easy-to-use interface.  

Honorable Mention

Inspection of Complex Bonded Composite Structures, by ATK Aerospace Structures Engineering

Outdoor & Consumer Products Finalists

EverDock and EverDock Duo by FUZ Designs

FUZ Designs hopes its EverDock and EverDock Duo will solve a problem that’s unique to the modern age: How to keep different smartphones and tablets charged when they use different power connectors?

EverDock is an elegantly designed dock for smartphones and tablets that can accommodate any of the types of connectors commonly used by those devices—including Apple’s lightning and 30-pin connectors and mini-USB. It is made of machined aluminum and uses microsuction technology to enable it to fasten to a wide range of surfaces. This suction allows users to detach their devices with one hand without also lifting the dock. It can be used with all types of tablets and smartphones.

Everdock Duo has space and connections to charge two devices simultaneously, including devices with different connectors. It is designed to enable easy changing between one connector and another and includes inserts to accommodate different sizes and shapes of devices. FUZ raised more than $452,000 in preorders through its 30-day Kickstarter campaign last year.

JetForce Technology by Black Diamond Equipment

Avalanche airbags can increase the odds of survival for a person caught in an avalanche by making them more likely to “float” to the surface of sliding snow. JetForce overcomes many of the weaknesses of other airbag systems. Other airbags inflate using canisters of compressed gas, which can be costly and difficult to replace or refill. This leads users to rarely test or practice with their systems. JetForce inflates using a jet fan powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, so it can be deployed over and over at no cost. This allows users to deploy the airbag anytime they suspect a slide could bury them rather than having to ration the number of times they can inflate.

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