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Two Graduate Finalists In Collegiate Inventors Competition

Desktop nanoprinter writes nano-scale features using thousands of tiny beams of light

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University scientists Keith A. Brown and Xing Liao have been selected as graduate finalists in the 2014 Collegiate Inventors Competition for their work on the invention of the desktop nanoprinter. They are one of seven teams in this year’s competition.

Brown and Liao both are members of the lab of Chad A. Mirkin. Brown is a postdoctoral fellow, and Liao is a doctoral student in materials science and engineering. Mirkin also is being recognized by the Collegiate Inventors Competition as their advisor and co-inventor.

Mirkin is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and professor of medicine, chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering.

As technologies like computer chips get smaller and smaller, the ability to quickly make tiny structures is increasingly important. The desktop nanoprinter provides a tool for scientists and engineers to create nano-prototypes with the touch of a button. The nanoprinter uses thousands of tiny, independently controlled beams of light directed down microscopic pyramids and through nanoscopic apertures at their tips to write nano-scale features over macroscopic areas.

The tool can be used to rapidly and inexpensively print materials that are important to many fields and industries, including electronics, optics, catalysis and the life sciences.

Brown, Liao and other graduate and undergraduate finalists will travel to Alexandria, Virginia, to present their inventions Nov. 17 to a panel of final round judges comprised of influential invention experts and inventors: National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office experts and AbbVie scientists.

Established in 1990, the Collegiate Inventors Competition is one of the leading programs in the country encouraging invention and creativity in undergraduate and graduate students.

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