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For Immediate Release
May 13, 2009
Media Contact
Michael Buckley
443-778-7536 or 240-228-7536

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab Names Best Inventions
Medical, Micromechanical Breakthroughs Share Top Honor in 10th Annual Competition

A "smart" polymer that automatically releases medicine into the bloodstream and a super-thin flexible microchip share the honor as The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory's top invention for 2008.

The winners were selected from the 129 inventions reported by 193 APL staff members last calendar year. An independent panel of 30 representatives from industry, the high-tech sector and patent law selected the top inventions based on their benefit to society, improvement over existing technology, and commercial potential. APL Director Rich Roca and Technology Transfer Director Kristin Gray presented plaques and cash awards to the inventors, listed with their inventions below, during the Lab's 10th annual Invention of the Year ceremony May 7 on the APL campus in Laurel, Md.

  • Lance Baird, Jason Benkoski, Andrew Mason and Jennifer Sample have conceived Physiologically Responsive Polymers, self-regulated polymers that would sense a physiological change (such as an allergic response) and release an appropriate therapeutic (such as an antihistamine) in proportion to the physiological condition. Acting simultaneously as a sensor, dispenser and medicine, the polymers would remove the need for expensive implant devices and, in some cases, mitigate the need for continuous medical supervision.

  • Harry Charles, Shaun Francomacaro, Allen Keeney and John Lehtonen have developed a method — known as Ultrathin, Flexible Multichip Modules — for making rugged, lightweight and compact microelectronic assemblies that are about half the thickness of a human hair. The assemblies can be inexpensively mass produced, use little power, and can be mounted or laminated to curved surfaces — leading to potential uses in smart cards, active circuit appliqués, implantable biomedical devices and even fabrics. The process not only drastically reduces substrate thickness but also increases wiring density, allowing several conductor layers to be stacked in extremely small spaces.

Each team also received a congratulatory letter from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

"These awards not only recognize and reward the work of the winning inventors, they also celebrate inventiveness and innovation across the Lab," Gray says. "After 10 years, the inventions keep getting better and our inventors continue to creatively address the nation's critical technical challenges."

APL engineer Jack Roberts also received a "Master Inventor" award, joining 21 other past and current APL staff members who hold at least 10 patents.

Technology Transfer at APL

APL opened its Office of Technology Transfer in late 1999 to facilitate the transfer of APL-developed technology to the private sector. It ranks among the top research universities in its number of inventions, licenses, patent applications, patents issued, start-up companies, and associated research and development income. APL technologies have been transferred to companies all over Maryland and in 36 other states, as well as in Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands and Denmark. Other accomplishments over the past decade include:

  • 1,200 inventions disclosed
  • 261 U.S. patents issued
  • 1,300 U.S. patent applications filed
  • 231 license agreements executed
  • 19 start-up companies; more than 50 jobs created
  • More than $31 million in licensing and related research and development income
  • 52 products based on licensed APL technologies

For more information on APL's Technology Transfer programs, visit www.jhuapl.edu/ott.


Click on the thumbnail
image for a larger version.

Picture of all the Invention of the Year awards winners

Pictuee of the Circuit winners of IOY

Picture of the Polymer winners of IOY

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.