UB inventors receive SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund award to build a metrology system capable of studying a single atom

A metrology device, small enough to be held in the hand and almost cylindrical in shape.

UB researchers have developed a system capable of capturing a single atom or multiple atoms between two probes and studying their properties. This photo shows part of the lab prototype.

Release Date: May 29, 2013 This content is archived.

“There is a void in the current marketplace for metrology equipment that is capable of forming and studying materials and devices as small as a single atom. ”
UB faculty member Jason Armstrong and Precision Scientific Instruments Inc. CEO and President Gerry Murak in their proposal to the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund
Gerry Murak and Robert Genco, both in suits, shaking hands.

Gerry Murak (left), president and CEO of Precision Scientific Instruments Inc., shakes hands with Robert Genco, PhD, the UB vice provost who oversees the university's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). Through STOR, the company licensed the metrology technology developed by UB researchers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — University at Buffalo engineers will receive $50,000 from the statewide SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF) to build a commercial prototype of a metrology system they have invented.

This patented technology is capable of capturing a single atom or multiple atoms between two probes, and then studying and measuring a wide variety of the atoms' electronic and physical properties.

The state-of-the-art equipment needed to do this type of research is vital for scientists looking to craft smaller, lighter electronic devices and medical implants with atomic-scale parts. The way that a single atom behaves is uniquely different from the way atoms behave when found in bulk.

The project team is comprised of Jason Armstrong, PhD, who is the principal investigator and a faculty member in the UB Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Gerry Murak, president, CEO and founder of Precision Scientific Instruments Inc. (PSi), a Buffalo-based high-tech manufacturing startup that has licensed the metrology technology.

In their proposal, they state that their technology “represents the ‘complete solution’ platform for investigation and development of the next generation of devices as small as a single atom.”

The team added, “There is a void in the current marketplace for metrology equipment that is capable of forming and studying materials and devices as small as a single atom.”

Armstrong invented the now-patented metrology device with UB colleagues Harsh Deep Chopra, PhD, and Susan Hua, PhD, both faculty in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. PSi is working with the UB inventors to further develop and commercialize it. The company's tagline is, "Where miniature is about to get significantly smaller."

Launched in 2011, the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF) cultivates innovation by speeding the commercialization of high-impact SUNY inventions.

The UB project is one of five from across the SUNY system that will receive TAF support in the current round of funding. The other recipients were teams from Stony Brook University, the SUNY Downstate Medical Center and the University of Albany, and a collaborative team representing the SUNY Upstate Medical University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

To date, TAF has successfully advanced the commercial readiness of 11 SUNY-developed innovations. The fund has also contributed to the establishment of two startup companies formed to commercialize TAF-funded technologies and enable research teams to pursue funding from federal funding sources.

Factors that evaluators considered in awarding TAF funding included availability of intellectual property protection, marketability, commercial potential, feasibility and breadth of impact.

UB and PSi previously received funding for research and development through SUNY's Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR), which is administered regionally by UB TCIE. SPIR connects corporate partners with UB engineering brainpower, enabling businesses to partner with UB on upgrading or introducing new technologies, or otherwise improving products and operations.

Media Contact Information

Charlotte Hsu is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email ub-news@buffalo.edu or visit our list of current university media contacts.