2019 Innovation Forum Results

First Place: Presenters Youssef Elasser and Yenan Chen, Electrical Engineering - Ultra-Efficient EPUs for Future Data Centers

U.S. data centers currently consume more than 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year and produce as much CO2 emission as the entire airline industry. Traditional power delivery architectures in data centers are bulky and inefficient. Only 60% of electricity is used for computing and the rest is lost in the power conversion process. At Princeton PowerLab, we have developed a new power electronics device, the Energy Processing Unit (EPU), which can simultaneously supply power to thousands of modular computing units with extremely high energy efficiency. The key principle is to avoid delivering power to each individual server or computer with one standalone power converter, but aggregating these converters into a highly integrated system which is connected to a large number of computing devices. The EPU functions as an intelligent energy management system and only process the differential power amongst the server clouds. With reduced component count and power conversion stress, the EPUs can be extremely compact and very efficient. Leveraging the wide-band-gap semiconductor devices and advanced control algorithms, EPUs have the potential to become a mainstream technology for future data centers, be included in the next generation power delivery standards, and will open new opportunities to many other emerging energy systems such as large-scale solar farms and grid-scale energy storage systems.

Second Place: Presenter Greg Davies, Geosciences - Advanced Quantitative Medical Imaging

This is an advanced medical imaging technology that generates MRI-quality images using only ultrasound. Utilizing techniques from the Geosciences, this reconstruction technique determines the material properties of imaged tissues, including their stiffness and density. With this information, specific tissue types can be identified, enhancing diagnoses. The added benefits of ultrasoundbased methods have the potential to open up broader medical imaging applications due to their non-ionizing nature, the relative speed of image acquisition, and the lower costs compared with MRI.

Third Place: Presenter Miles Cole, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering - Vertical Injection Technology Apparatus (VITA)

In the midst of an evolving technological world, venipuncture for the direct injection of medication has not changed since the practice was first developed in the 1830’s despite the inefficiency, unreliability, and potential harm that can arise. Under the most ideal conditions, it is difficult even for a trained nurse to access a vein consistently due to practical limitations of human motor skills, changing variables from person to person such as vein size, shape, strength, health, etc., as well as basic human error. Of course, under non-ideal conditions, the risks are even greater.

Two particularly important spaces where the Invictis VITA would revolutionize the market space are hemophilia and chemotherapy. Hemophiliacs require daily IV injections, and either a trained nurse must come to your house, you must travel to a treatment center, or you must do the injection yourself. Even in a hospital setting, around 25% of first stick IV infusion attempts are unsuccessful, illustrating the difficulty of injecting a vein in small or weakened patients. It is inconceivable that in this age of advanced technology we rely on such outdated and inefficient methods.

The use of advanced robotics offers a solution to the problems associated with venipuncture yet to date no such products are widely available in the market. Our device seeks to overcome these challenges by changing the fundamental method of injection in a simple and effective way. Similar to how the EpiPen changed the landscape on how to deliver epinephrine by making the procedure virtually foolproof, our device is poised to change the landscape of how IV injections are administered by automating the process with cost-effective and accessible technology.

Third Place: Presenter Bridgett vonHoldt, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - Simple genetics assay of mutations associated with hyper-social behavior in domestic dogs

Despite decades of effort to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the unique relationship between humans and domestic dogs, the role of genetics in shaping canine sociability remains poorly understood. Disentangling the genetics of behavior, particularly those traits that are associated with personality, have been challenging due to the anticipated complexity of the underlying genetic architecture.

My research team published a tantalizing finding regarding the genetic foundation of human-directed hyper-sociability behavior in wolves and dogs . We found that canines that displayed a higher level of interest to interact with humans also carried more mutations that are in close proximity to three genes (WBSRC17, GTF2I, and GTF2IRD1). Further, dogs carried more of these mutations than wolves. These genes are members of a gene family that, when deleted in humans, results in Williams-Beuren Syndrome, a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by delayed development, cognitive impairment, behavioral abnormalities, and extreme friendliness. In canines, the mutations we found to be associated with hyper-sociability were also found to be transposon insertions. These are fragments of DNA that can independently copy/paste themselves around the canine genome, and are easily detected through affordable molecular techniques.