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Commerce's NIST Announces 44 New Advanced Technology Program Awards

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced 44 new awards from its Advanced Technology Program (ATP). The funding will assist 35 companies and nine joint venture partnerships in developing novel technologies such as brain stimulation technology to reduce the likelihood and severity of epileptic seizures, a computer network firewall that uses artificial intelligence to detect and stop hacker attacks, a low-cost system for fabricating electronic devices that are as thin and flexible as paper, and three-dimensional laser-scanning technology for faster and more reliable inspection of manufactured parts and products. The new awards represent a total of up to $104.5 million in ATP funding and an industry share of up to $74.5 million, if all projects are carried through to completion.

The 35 individual companies and their innovative projects are:

  • 4Wave Inc. (Sterling, Va.)
    Prototype a new semiconductor fabrication technology, Biased Target Ion Beam Deposition (BTIBD), and prove its effectiveness by designing and developing a novel four channel optical communications "multi-filter chip" that may reduce the cost of current four channel filter solutions by 80 percent.
  • ActivEye, Inc. (Pleasantville, N.Y.)
    Develop an automated security surveillance system that combines closed circuit video cameras, radio-frequency identification technology, and computer modeling and analysis of human behaviors, with the aim of achieving rapid, reliable detection of suspicious events warranting the attention of security personnel.
  • Actuality Systems, Inc. (Burlington, Mass.)
    Advance holographic visualization technology from still images to full-motion full color images suitable for use in scientific visualization, medical evaluation, and entertainment by overcoming challenges related to image resolution, data processing, and consumer-level pricing.
  • Acuitus, Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.)
    Develop an intelligent tutoring system that models expert tutor behavior as well as what the tutor is observing about the student to create a computer-based effective teacher's aid that complements teacher-led classroom instruction.
  • Aqua Bounty Farms, Inc. (Waltham, Mass.)
    Develop technology to produce sterile transgenic fish that can be made fertile as needed for reproduction.
  • Astronautics Corporation of America (Milwaukee, Wis.)
    Design, build, and test a magnetic refrigerator that is energy efficient, cost effective, and environmentally safe.
  • The Athena Group, Inc. (Gainesville, Fla.)
    Develop a system-on-a-chip architecture that blends the flexibility of fully programmable microprocessors with the high performance of function-specific processors, radically lowering design costs and speeding development of devices for embedded applications.
  • BH Electronics, Inc. (Burnsville, Minn.)
    Develop technology for low-cost mass-manufacture of high-frequency electronic transformers and inductors, enabling U.S. production of these commodity components, most of which are now hand manufactured and imported.
  • BRAINSTORM Technology LLC (New York, N.Y.)
    Develop software that creates accurate, realistic, three-dimensional models of buildings and other large-scale environments for applications in construction, disaster recovery, architecture, urban planning, preservation, and entertainment.
  • Chesapeake PERL, Inc. (College Park, Md.)
    Genetically transform caterpillars to produce therapeutic protein drugs 100 times faster than any current technology, decreasing drug development costs and increasing affordable drug production capacity.
  • Chiral Photonics, Inc. (Clifton, N.J.)
    Develop and prototype a new type of low-cost laser—one that operates inside the glass fiber used for optical communications—potentially leading to dramatic telecommunications system cost reductions.
  • Dimensional Control Systems, Inc. (Troy, Mich.)
    Develop a widely applicable computer simulation system for modeling, analyzing, predicting, and optimizing the performance of multistage manufacturing processes requiring accurate parts alignment to improve production and product quality.
  • Eksigent Technologies, LLC (Livermore, Calif.)
    Develop a miniaturized, high-performance liquid chromatography system on a chip that will accelerate the screening of drug candidates before clinical trials and greatly reduce the costs of drug discovery and development.
  • Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (Rochester Hills, Mich.)
    Develop advanced Ovonic ™ phase change materials and use them to create a fast optical switch for telecommunications—offering submicrosecond switching speeds—so fast that optical packet switching could become viable, eliminating the very costly, repetitive, and slow conversion of fiber optic light signals to and from electronic signals.
  • Gene Check, Inc. (Ft. Collins, Colo.)
    Develop a method for accurate simultaneous detection of up to 100,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms, or point mutations, in patient DNA, enabling rapid, low-cost genotyping, for disease diagnosis, susceptibility testing, and personalized medicine.
  • Gryphon Therapeutics (South San Francisco, Calif.)
    Develop an approach for discovering D-peptide drugs, a new class of therapeutics likely to be pharmacologically superior to monoclonal antibody drugs and less immunogenic.
  • Haptic Technologies, Inc. (West Newton, Mass.)
    Develop a virtual reality surgical simulation system for the training of surgeons through conveyance of realistic touch and force sensations back to the student coupled with realistic views, dynamically updated in real-time, of tissue and organs and their deformation when cut or probed with virtual surgical tools.
  • Infrared Identification Inc. (Lorton, Va.)
    Develop a technology for biometric recognition of faces that uses thermal infrared imaging to map unique vascular patterns, operates in real time, identifies anyone whose infrared or visual image is recorded in its database, and is invulnerable to forgery, disguise, and varying environmental conditions.
  • Integrated Fuel Cell Technologies, Inc. (Bedford, Mass.)
    Pursue semiconductor fabrication methods for high volume manufacture of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell cores, leading to a family of low-cost fuel cell systems ranging from 1 watt to over 10kW, potentially giving the United States a dramatic lead in fuel cell production and replacing millions of imported batteries.
  • Integrated Sensing Systems, Inc. (Ypsilanti, Mich.)
    Develop a highly portable multidrug infusion system that integrates the technology of microelectromechanical systems with a passively pressurized drug reservoir, thereby dramatically improving control of drug delivery, while operating on low power.
  • The Maxima Corporation (San Diego, Calif.)
    Develop a novel solid-state laser technology that can operate at the longer wavelengths, thus much less affected by fog or rain fade, to enable the establishment of reliable free-space optical communications for low-cost, high-speed, last-mile interconnection.
  • Medaxis Corporation (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Develop a software architecture for physicians and researchers that automatically extracts patient data from electronic medical records—regardless of location, database, or computer code—generates a list of patient problems, and displays information in ways that support diagnostic and therapeutic decisionmaking.
  • Micro Magnetics, Inc. (Fall River, Mass.)
    Develop a nanoscale magnetic tunnel junction current-sensing system for integrated circuit inspection that will help maintain the U.S. lead in semiconductors by providing vastly improved metrology for in-process inspection.
  • Neah Power Systems, Inc. (Bothell, Wash.)
    Develop a miniature direct methanol fuel cell using novel porous silicon electrodes and microfluidics for handling fuel and oxidant, potentially replacing environmentally challenging rechargable batteries while offering longer run times, higher power output, and instantaneous recharging for portable electronic devices.
  • NeuroPace, Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.)
    Develop preemptive stimulation technology for use in an implantable neurostimulator that normalizes brain activity and reduces the likelihood and severity of epileptic seizures.
  • Newport Sensors, Inc. (Irvine, Calif.)
    Develop a portable device that uses microwave imaging technology to assess the condition of reinforced-concrete structures, such as bridge columns, that have been strengthened or repaired with fiber-reinforced polymer composite materials.
  • Palo Alto Research Center (Palo Alto, Calif.)
    Develop a novel interconnection technology that permits a wide variety of digital devices and services to interoperate without pre-installing driver software.
  • Plug Power Inc. (Latham, N.Y.)
    Develop four technologies—a power-control system that uses digital signal processing, a carbon nanotube hybrid electrode for superior stack performance, hydrogen pumping for coping with sporadic demands for high power, and electroimpedance spectroscopy for humidity management—that reduce the cost of fuel-cell-produced energy to levels competitive with power grids, thus stimulating much wider use of fuel cells.
  • PolyFuel, Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.)
    Develop a low-cost, high-speed process for fabricating gas diffusion layers for use in fuel cells improving their performance and spurring wider use.
  • Raindrop Geomagic, Inc. (Research Triangle Park, N.C.)
    Develop an automated computer-aided inspection system that uses noncontact three-dimensional laser scanning and software to measure manufactured parts and that compares the results with corresponding specifications in computer-aided design data.
  • Reactive NanoTechnologies, Inc. (Hunt Valley, Md.)
    Develop a new class of reactive foils that can rapidly join thermally sensitive or dissimilar materials, that are stable enough to allow patterning by mechanical punching or stamping, and that promise substantial gains in productivity for U.S. manufacturers.
  • Starthis, Inc. (Rosemont, Ill.)
    Develop industrial middleware that allows control engineers to design new control systems or adapt and reconfigure existing systems rapidly and intuitively, enabling agile manufacturing operations that can respond effectively to changing markets and competition.
  • Targacept Inc. (Winston Salem, N.C.)
    Develop new simulation software that uses quantum mechanics to evaluate molecular forces and electronic structures in organic and biological systems to help improve the development of drugs by accurately predicting biological and toxicological effects.
  • TechGuard Security, LLC (Chesterfield, Mo.)
    Develop a revolutionary computer network firewall that augments conventional rule-based screening with behavior-based screening using sets of artificial neural networks to recognize malicious traffic on first attack.
  • TeleContinuity, Inc. (Silver Spring, Md.)
    Develop a system to guarantee telephone call delivery and dial tone in order to maintain telecommunications continuity during and following terror attack, natural disaster, equipment failure, or human error by combining the capabilities of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the Internet.

The nine joint venture partnerships (lead partner listed first) and their innovative projects are:

  • Agiltron, Inc. (Woburn, Mass.) in partnership with AC Photonics, Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.)
    Develop a new type of optical switch, based on a revolutionary optical MEMS platform, that is more efficient, more reliable, and faster, helping to revitalize the broadband telecommunications industry. 
  • AstroPower, Inc. (Newark, Del.) in partnership with Dow Corning (Midland, Mich.) and Crystal Systems, Inc. (Salem, Mass.)
    Develop industrial refining processes to produce low-cost, high-purity silicon feedstock in virtually unlimited commercial quantities for the solar cell industry.
  • Center for Automotive Research (CAR) (Ann Arbor, Mich.) in partnership with Altarum Institute (Ann Arbor, Mich.), American Tooling Center (Grass Lake, Mich.), Atlas Tool (Roseville, Mich.), Autodie International (Grand Rapids, Mich.), CogniTens (Wixom, Mich.), ComauPICO (Southfield, Mich.), EDS (Troy, Mich.), Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, Mich.), General Motors Corporation (Troy, Mich.), Perceptron, Inc. (Plymouth, Mich.), Riviera Tool (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Sekely Industries (Salem, Ohio), Thunder Bay Pattern Works (Clinton Twp, Mich.)
    Develop a decision support software system that will integrate the virtual building of an automobile body structure with functional build decision making software to help designers, engineers, and vehicle launch teams solve problems and predict how solutions will affect quality, cost, and schedule.
  • General Electric Company (Niskayuna, N.Y.) in partnership with Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (Rochester Hills, Mich.)
    Revolutionize the electronics industry by developing low-cost roll-to-roll printing technologies, not for newspapers, but for roll-to-roll printing of large area electronic devices, potentially enabling flexible displays, ubiquitous embedded sensors, and high-efficiency lighting products.
  •  InPhase Technologies, Inc. (Longmont, Colo.) in partnership with Displaytech, Inc. (Longmont, Colo.)
    Create a prototype optical data storage device that proves the viability of using holographic 3D techniques—enabling parallel reading and writing of data with a ten times faster rate than standard technologies—potentially helping the U.S. reclaim leadership in optical data storage.
  • Ohio Aerospace Institute (Brookpark, Ohio) in partnership with Lithium Power Technologies, Inc. (Manvel, Texas), DuPont Teijin Films U.S. Limited Partnership (Circleville, Ohio), Parallax Power Components, LLC, Capacitor Division (Bridgeport, Conn.), Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio)
    Develop thin-film, plastic dielectric materials that will enhance current capacitor performance 10-fold, leading to development of smaller, lighter, more portable electrical equipment including power converters for fuel cells and electric vehicles.
  • Sarnoff Corporation (Princeton, N.J.) in partnership with Thomson Inc. (Princeton, N.J.), Alcatel USA Sourcing, LP (Plano, Texas), and SBC Technology Resources, Inc. (Austin, Texas)
    Develop broadband technology that allows video services comparable in quality to cable and satellite television to be delivered in real time over standard ADSL infrastructure.
  • TechSolve, Inc. (Cincinnati, Ohio) in partnership with Applied Grinding Technologies (Wixom, Mich.), Delphi Energy and Chassis Systems (Dayton, Ohio), Landis Gardner-A UNOVA Company (Waynesboro, Pa.) and Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.)
    Develop an intelligent system that uses techniques of soft computing and artificial intelligence to learn, control, monitor, and optimize a variety of complex precision-grinding processes without resorting to trial and error.
  • Varian Medical Systems (Mountain View, Calif.) in partnership with Palo Alto Research Center (Palo Alto, Calif.)
    Develop large-area digital X-ray inspection systems with heretofore-unavailable accuracy for near error-free screening of cargo and sealed container freight at airports, seaports, and other points of entry.

The ATP supports projects that industry cannot fully fund on its own because of significant technical risks. ATP awards are made on the basis of rigorous, competitive peer review considering scientific and technical merit of each proposal. In addition, awards are based on the potential for broad-based economic benefits, the need for ATP funding, and evidence of a clear commercialization pathway and broad diffusion.

For more information about the ATP, go to [link removed because it is no longer active] or call (800) ATP-FUND (287-3863).

Released September 10, 2003, Updated January 20, 2023