Bringing Micro- and Nano-scale Technologies to the Masses

Physical Sciences : Mechanical

Available for licensing


  • S.V. Sreenivasan, Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering
  • Shrawan Singhal, Ph.D. , NASCENT
  • Ovadia Abed, Ph.D. , NASCENT & Microelectronics Research Ctr.
  • Lawrence Dunn , Nascent
  • Aseem Sayal , Department of Mechanical Engineering

Background/unmet need

The difficulty in teaching students about scientific principles often lies in the lack of "hands-on" application of the concepts. In high school and college courses, lab time is often incorporated in the curriculum to address the necessity for putting theory to practice, which leads to deeper understanding of the concepts of chemistry, physics, and many other disciplines. In the last several years, online course offerings have been made available from many institutions around the globe--the idea being to provide a high level of instruction to a much larger number of interested students, in order to enable widespread understanding of the latest technological advances and the applications of technology to address global problems.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed many Massive Open Online Course offerings which have become very popular and provided opportunities for students around the world to access high-level instruction on challenging technical material. To address the lack of access to hands-on experimentation, typically provided as part of the on-campus curriculum, the researchers have developed hand-held, individualized kits that are designed to enable practical application of the scientific aspects of micro and nanotechnologies, such as wafer processing, integrated circuit manufacturing, and solar cell fabrication.


  • Ability to demonstrate theoretical concepts learned in an online course
  • Unique hands-on experimental lab setup designed specifically for the course material


  • Individualized kits mailed to students around the world
  • Unique solutions for each kit in order to prevent students sharing results
  • Complete instruction set included with each kit, along with a safety survey which must be completed online to activate the kit

Market potential/applications

A University of Oxford study entitled International Trends in Higher Education 2015 reports that 142 universities provide free courses open to all participants via Coursera and EdX alone. The continued increase in tuition and other costs of college attendance is driving the market to alternatives such as online learning.

Development Stage

Beta product/commercial prototype

IP Status

  • 1 PCT patent application filed
  • 1 U.S. patent application filed