Diamonds for extreme environments, diamonds for industrial and medical lasers, diamonds for biomedical implants — all are part of a new public/private partnership supported by a $600, 000 National Science Foundation grant to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Birmingham Business Alliance.
One of only 17 NSF grants to support partnerships that pair academic innovation and business, this is the first ever awarded in Alabama.
Instead of diamond mining, the grant supports diamond synthesis in a project formally titled “Innovations in Chemical Vapor Deposited Diamond Crystals and Nanostructured Diamond Coatings.”
The federal grant teams university research with private partners in hopes of giving the U.S. a competitive edge in finding solutions to global problems.
For example, one portion of the grant will help solve commercialization issues in bringing research on coatings for biomedical implants — coatings that make the implants last longer — into the marketplace. Yogesh Vohra, a UAB physics professor, who is principal investigator on the project, says, “The increase in lifespan of biomedical implants will improve the quality of life for millions of Americans and reduce the need for revision surgeries.”
Private partners include Birmingham-based Vista Engineering & Consulting LLC, as well as Almax easyLab Inc. in Boston and Onyx Optics Inc. in California.
Text by Nedra Bloom