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Contactless Connections


UCLA has opened its on-campus technology incubator space at the California NanoSystems Institute to WaveConnex Inc., a startup company that plans to conduct proof-of-concept research for the development of contactless electronic connections that can be used in virtually all electronic systems.

WaveConnex, which was incorporated in August 2009, is dedicated to leveraging research in millimeter-wave radio technology developed by UCLA electrical engineering professor Frank Chang toward the development of products for contactless connections. The company has licensed the technology from UCLA.

Contactless connections allow data to be exchanged between electronic devices without them touching one other. The technology being developed by WaveConnex will potentially enable wide-ranging applications in the areas of database transfer, Internet infrastructure, and entertainment electronics, among others.

The company will exploit the propagation properties of millimeter-wave electromagnetic radiation generated on silicon material. The product platform form-factor is a piece of silicon measuring 2 x1 mm, about the size of a grain of rice.

WaveConnex products should serve as replacements for metal-to-metal interconnections currently used in nearly all electronic systems. These new products will have the potential to overcome the limitations of current connectors in terms of performance, reliability and size.

Among the potential applications are improved pocket-sized "smart cards" with embedded integrated circuits that can store and process large amounts of data without ever coming into direct contact with another device.

"Imagine you have a credit card sized 'smart card' in your wallet that contains all of your medical history and records in encrypted form, including medications, X-rays, MRI results, etc.," Chang said. "The technology has the potential to enable any doctor to access, with permission, your accurate medical profile, giving them detailed information for the prescription of treatments and enabling them to update your profile."

While such applications are feasible today, they remain highly impractical due to the limitations in speed and size of the current technology.The new technology being developed by WaveConnex seeks to make this practical by enabling substantially faster transfer of large databases.

"Our products will be based on deep sub-micron CMOS semiconductor technology designed by WaveConnex and manufactured outside of UCLA," said Ira Deyhimy, CEO of WaveConnex.

The UCLA on-campus Technology Incubator Program at the CNSI is an innovative resource with a mission to help accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial startup companies and early-stage technology research projects that originate at UCLA. The incubator offers shared, flexible lab space dedicated to housing eight to 10 early-stage incubation projects for short periods of time.

WaveConnex's activity in the incubator space will include preparation, testing, and characterization of the product prototypes.

The California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA is an integrated research center operating jointly at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara whose mission is to foster interdisciplinary collaborations for discoveries in nanosystems and nanotechnology; train the next generation of scientists, educators and technology leaders; and facilitate partnerships with industry, fueling economic development and the social well-being of California, the United States, and the world. The CNSI was established in 2000 with $100 million from the state of California and an additional $250 million in federal research grants and industry funding. At the institute, scientists in the areas of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, mathematics, computational science and engineering are measuring, modifying and manipulating the building blocks of our world— atoms and molecules. These scientists benefit from an integrated laboratory culture enabling them to conduct dynamic research at the nanoscale, leading to significant breakthroughs in the areas of health, energy, the environment and information technology.


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