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Baras, Goldsman win Invention of the Year Awards

John Baras and Neil Goldsman.
John Baras and Neil Goldsman.

Professor John Baras (ECE/ISR) and ISR-affiliated Professor Neil Goldsman (ECE) have each won a University of Maryland “Invention of the Year” award.

In the Information Science category, Baras was recognized for his work with the Army Research Laboratory on a key exchange system to secure Internet transactions. His invention is of interest for national defense systems, major banking companies, and other industries where secrecy is of great importance.

baras_groupThe efficient replacement of secret keys is a problem, since generating new keys can use a significant amount of computing resources. Baras and his fellow researchers discovered a method of efficiently updating and exchanging secret keys that exploits the randomness of Markov models in selecting a new key. This new method eliminates the need for third-party key management, public key infrastructure, and large amounts of storage space. Paul Yu and Brian Sadler also worked on this project.

In the Physical Science category, Goldsman and Professor Martin Peckerar (ECE), won for their "World's Highest Energy Density Thin-Film Battery." The researchers developed an improved, thin-film battery prototype to respond to the need for more power-efficient electronic devices in a variety of applications. The millimeter-thick, high-density, rechargeable batteries offer the world's highest energy storage density among thin-film batteries. Remotely rechargeable, the batteries gather energy from environmental sources, such as solar energy, vibrations and radio waves. They can even recharge by simply pointing a cell phone at them.

goldsman_groupThe batteries are flexible, meaning they can conform to nearly any shape and act as part of an electronic device’s packaging. They attach to microchips, sensors, RFID chips, and small electronic components. The batteries are comprised entirely of environmentally friendly materials. The new batteries will make possible a number of stronger, smaller products, including wireless sensor networks, active RFID, wearable electronics and medical devices. Yves Ngu, Zeynep Dilli and George Metze from the National Security Agency also worked on this project.

The awards are presented annually by the University of Maryland Office of Technology Commercialization to honor outstanding inventions and inventors from the previous year. Each year a panel of judges made up of both University of Maryland personnel and industry experts selects one winner from groups of finalists in each of three categories: life science, information science, and physical science. The winners are chosen based on the creativity, novelty, and potential benefit to society of each of the inventions.

Our thanks to Ted Knight, ECE, for the awards ceremony photos.

April 8, 2009


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