National University of Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is the national research university of Singapore. NUS is a comprehensive research university, offering a wide range of disciplines, including the sciences, medicine and dentistry, design and environment, law, arts and social sciences, engineering, business, computing, and music at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels

Our Technology Offers

Microfluidic Platform for Embedded Droplet Formation

This invention describes a first-of-its-kind microfluidic system that takes advantage of the unique properties of yield-stress fluids to generate droplets in the form of crystallised particles. In the system, nozzles inject fluid into a yield-stress bath—complex materials with solid-like and liquid-like behaviour—and form droplets embedded within. Conveniently, these injections may be automated and scheduled according to set timings, forming the desired droplets when needed.

Contrary to traditional microfluidic approach, this system no longer requires convection forces to drive fluid flow. Instead, the immiscibility of the injected fluid and yield-stress bath allows the precise formation of small, suspended droplets that are perfectly spherical. Moreover, the bath material prevents the environmental contamination or evaporation of the droplets.

Given the isolated state of the droplets, unwanted mixing is prevented and complex experimental set-ups can be carried out with ease. For instance, a certain droplet can be allowed to develop undisturbed for a longer period of time or reagents added and removed without disturbing other droplets. By eliminating the effects of external forces, this invention enables droplet processing at a level of precision difficult to achieve with traditional microfluidic systems.

Compact Self-contained Pump Offers Efficient Drug Delivery Capability

The global human insulin market has witnessed strong growth in the recent years as a result of increased prevalence of diabetes, growing ageing population around the world, and better public awareness in diabetes management. This trend is expected to continue over the next few years—driving up the demand for insulin pumps. The market recording US$3.8 billion in 2020 is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.68%, reaching US$8.3 billion in 2025.

However, for the market to reach its full potential, safer and better performing new generation insulin pumps with advanced features are needed. The present insulin pumps available in the market not only tend to be rather bulky, but also require a change in pump cartridge every few days.

Thus far, efforts directed at developing smaller pumps have brought reservoirs and connecting conduits down to the nanometre scale achieved with the help of etching techniques. However, attempts in miniaturising the actual pumping mechanism often compromises the efficiency of the pump and brings challenges for accurate control.

The technology offers possible solutions for instrument miniaturisation while enabling the realisation of the insulin pump’s full market potential.

A Method for Simultaneous Genetic Diagnosis

Expansion of simple sequence repeats that are dispersed throughout the human genome directly cause many genetic human diseases, such as:

  • fragile X syndrome (FXS), which is caused by CGG trinucleotide repeats;
  • fragile XE non-syndromic intellectual disability (FRAXE NSID), caused by CCG repeats;
  • Huntington disease and spinocerebellar ataxias (CAG repeats); and among many others.

Such genetic diseases are known as repeat expansion disorders and are usually difficult to distinguish by signs and symptoms alone due to extensive clinical overlap and other accompanying phenotypes. For example, FXS and FRAXE NSID are strongly associated with intellectual disabilities, but the mild-to-borderline phenotype of FRAXE NSID could lead to under-diagnosis as compared to FXS.

As such, separate molecular genetic testing is necessary to diagnose each disease, which inevitably adds to the time and costs. Further, time, effort and reagent costs are proportionately higher when many genes have to be tested to identify the causative disease gene for a condition.

Given the above, the technology provides a solution that allows such repeat expansion disorders to be detected simultaneously in a single-tube reaction. Using a single common primer, multiple expansion mutations that have same trinucleotide repeat sequences can be detected rapidly using triplet-primed PCR (TP-PCR) and capillary electrophoresis.

Pharmacogenomics AI for Point-of-Care (PoC) Tests

Data analytics pipelines and predictive algorithms/tools using human genetics are gathering interest in the growing field of precision or individualised medicine. Through our technology, we target the use of each individual’s genetics to discern for individuals, who may respond poorly to drug treatments. Such knowledge will assist clinicians in making informed decisions on treatment options and allow them to administer alternative treatments with the aim of better treatment response. Most importantly our technology focuses on the early identification of a patient’s drug response which will help prevent potential adverse drug reactions or disease progression arising from poor drug response.

We are seeking partnership to license our product commercially and further co-develop this product as well as test the technology in different populations.

Versatile, Flexible and Biocompatible Elastomeric Microtubes

The technology relates to a method of fabricating microtubes made with elastomeric material (e.g. polydimethylsiloxane, PDMS) with an inner diameter of 10 to 400 um using mechanical apparatus and cost efficient common materials readily available in the market. These microtubes can be used as microfluidic channels in microfluidics devices for microscale manipulation, analysis and sorting of micro and nanoscale entities such as biomolecules, cells and particles. The microtubes may also be filled with a material of the user’s choice for their target applications. The simple method of this technology contrasts with the conventional fabrication of microfluidics, which involves the complicated high cost photolithography process that limits microfluidic channel geometry to rectangular cross-section and is difficult to form complex three-dimensional (3D) microstructures.

We are currently seeking opportunities to out-license this technology.

Blue Energy Generation using IEX Membrane

This technology relates to an ion selective membrane with a device and method for generating electricity from two solutions with different chemical potentials.

The membrane’s layers are intrinsically uncharged, atomically smooth, and with a critical dimension as small as 0.3 nm. While the charge-free and smooth walls enable faster movement of the ions, the increased mobility also enhances ionic selectivity of the membrane. The mobility of the ions can be further adjusted by altering the material make-up of the layer such as graphene and boron nitride (or any other 2D material).

To generate electricity, the membrane is placed between two chambers with solutions of different chemical potentials. Each solution is also connected to two electrodes joined by a generator load. As molecules pass through the membrane, this creates an osmotic current and potential that generates electricity which is then collected by the generator load. The membrane’s performance can be modified to increase selectivity or tuned to be more hydrophilic/hydrophobic if necessary. Two sets of membranes with opposite charge selectivity can also be used to form part of an electrodialysis (ED) system.

The technology provide is currently looking for licensing partners to commercialise this technology.

Multiferroic Material for Next-Generation Memory Device

The field-driven switching of the ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties forms the basis of ferroelectric random-access memory (FERAM) and magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) devices respectively. Both devices are non-volatile and have certain advantages over conventional random-access memory devices (RAMs).

The term "multiferroic" refers to materials that simultaneously possess ferromagnetic and ferroelectric properties. In a multiferroic material with strong magnetoelectric coupling, the polarisation or magnetisation will be switchable with respect to magnetic field or electric field. Therefore, the shortcomings in FERAM and MRAM could be avoided by employing suitable multiferroic materials, such that low energy ferroelectric writing and non-destructive magnetic reading could be achieved.

Currently, there has been no single-phase bulk material reported that demonstrates long-range ordered switchable polarisation and magnetisation at room temperature. This technology presents a new and improved single-phase material that exhibits magnetoelectric effect over the typical operational temperature ranges (e.g. at room temperature) of electronic devices.

Achieving Effectiveness with Wheel-in-wheel Roller Mechanism

Different from conventional rollers, each wheel-in-wheel roller is made up of a big wheel and small rollers along its circumference. The small rollers enable increased contact with the surface by up to 1.48 times and more, according to the number of small rollers included in the mechanism.

This mechanism can be operated manually or driven by motors with customised rotation speeds. In addition, the small rollers could be replaced or used in combination with different modules and rollers made of different materials, depending on the required function. This design modularity means that when the mechanism is integrated with additional systems such as a vacuum nozzle, liquid dispenser, or scraper, it could accomplish different tasks concurrently in a single operation.

Notably, its versatility to be built into both handheld devices and automated systems like robots offers possibilities for various industrial and consumer product applications.

Precise and Scalable Fabrication of Graphene Foams

Graphene foams are three-dimensional (3D) porous materials that encompasses the characteristics of graphene including high thermal conductivity, large surface area, enhanced electrical conductivity and high mechanical strength. Traditional bulk graphene fabrication methods (dip-coating, self-assembly or vacuum filtration) often face precision control difficulty and current methods of producing graphene foams are subjected to size restriction and scale-up issues, resulting in limited surface area, electrical conductivity, and mechanical flexibility.

This technology aims to resolve the issues faced during scale-up by providing a novel method for fabricating graphene foam via a two-step process. A ceramic template is first produced through additive manufacturing methods to create the desired structural properties of the foam. Graphene is next deposited onto the ceramic scaffold using chemical vapour deposition before etching occurs to leave behind a highly porous lattice of graphene foam with very large surface area.

High-resolution and High-speed Tomographic Imaging

This novel technology—phase-shifted optical beatings of Bessel beams (PS-OB3)-based two-photon fluorescence tomography (TPFT)—offers deep tissue imaging at high speed and high resolution. The PS-OB3-based TPFT imaging method achieves this through the phase shifted optical beatings of Bessel beams, which encode the tissue volumetric information in the spatial frequency domain.

As beams tend to scatter when scanning thicker samples (resulting in low quality images), the self-reconstructing nature of Bessel beams is able to overcome this issue and provide high-resolution and high-quality imaging. The method has been proven to offer a three-fold improvement in image depth when scanning scattering media (such as fluorescent bead phantom) as compared to conventional methods like point-scan two-photon fluorescence imaging using Gaussian excitation beams.

The technology owner is currently looking for opportunities to out-license this technology. The field of the invention is general to applications of nonlinear optical imaging in many fields, such as biology and medicine, agriculture, food and forensic sciences, water and environment, materials and semi-conductor industries with high speed, super-deep, depth-resolved imaging abilities