FLINT, Michigan — Collaboration between chemical engineering students and faculty as well as a chemistry professor at Kettering University let to the teams being awarded two U.S. patents this year.
“It was something I was not expecting right away when I started at Kettering. You think it’s something you’ll do later. It’s kind of overwhelming in a way,” said Graham Garner, who helped in developing one of the processes patented as an undergraduate chemical engineering student.
Both are highly technical. The first patent is for developing a method to chemically modify the surface of nano- and microparticles. Developed by chemical engineering faculty Mary Gilliam and Susan Farhat along with former students Garner and Michael Magyar, the process also offers an alternative surface treatment method that has a low environmental impact and can be scaled up to larger manufacturing processes. It was awarded patent No. 9,994,683.
The second patent brought together Gilliam and Farhat again as well as chemistry faculty Ali Zand in developing a surface treatment for biomedical devices. In a hip replacement, a metal ball and joint with a plastic insert will replace the hip socket. As the ball moves, the materials start to wear and the body’s cells may start attacking the particles and eat away at the bone. They incorporated the atmospheric pressure plasma treatment to graft a non-toxic, biocompatible coating on the plastic surface that reduces friction and wear. It was awarded patent No. 10,058,889.
Undergraduate students at Kettering University participate in research through independent study courses as well as through paid student research positions.
“At Kettering, the research is very applied,” Farhat said. “Seeing the applications are good for students. They know the why. They see that this has a place in the real world.”
(Left to right) Chemical engineering faculty Mary Gilliam, student Graham Garner, and faculty Susan Farhat worked along with another student, Michael Magyar to develop a process that changes the surface of nanoparticles.