A UC Davis engineering professor has received a grant of $200,000 from the National Science Foundation "Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research- Technology Translation" program to move his silicon-based blades towards commercial development as surgical and shaving tools.
Silicon or ceramic blades are extremely sharp and hard, keeping an edge longer than metal blades, but they are expensive to manufacture. The technique recently invented by Saif Islam, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis, allows thin silicon blades to be mass-produced at much lower cost.
Islam and his team stumbled on the technique while making silicon wafers for research on solar panels. They produced some very thin vertical walls of silicon, which turned out to be extremely sharp.
Islam has formed a company, Atocera (formerly Nano-Sharp) to license the patented technology from UC Davis and take it into commercial development. The grant will support development of a plan for scaling up the process for making silicon surgical blades.
Using silicon opens possibilities for "smart" blades, Islam said.
"Potentially, we could incorporate electrical and optical technologies, taking advantage of the semiconductor platform, to facilitate an enhanced hair removal process," he said.
Atocera is currently housed in the Engineering Translational Technology Center, the business incubator in the UC Davis College of Engineering. The company's Interim CEO is Jim Olson, the center's business specialist and co-founder. The work has previously been supported by a Proof of Concept grant from the University of California Office of the President (UCOP).