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Jizhe Cai working in the lab
January 3, 2023

Engineering team wins 2022 WARF Innovation Award

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A team of UW-Madison engineers using carbon nanotubes to build armor that’s stronger than Kevlar was one of two teams that won 2022 WARF Innovation Awards.

Ramathasan Thevamaran
Ramathasan Thevamaran

The team of Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Ramathasan Thevamaran and postdoctoral researcher Jizhe Cai received the award for their work on a new, lightweight material to protect against bullets and other high-speed impacts. The engineers’ ultra-durable lightweight material made of carbon nanotubes shows unprecedented strength and a superior ability to protect against high-impact ballistics including bullets and air and space debris.

The second winning team includes Sara McCoy, associate professor of medicine; Miriam Shelef, associate professor of medicine; Michael Newton, chair of biostatistics and medical informatics; and statistics graduate student Zihao Zheng for their work on an innovative new diagnostic test for Sjögren’s Syndrome.

An independent panel of judges selected the winners from a field of six finalists drawn from several hundred invention disclosures submitted to WARF over the prior 12 months. The winning teams each receive an award of $10,000, with the funds going to the named UW-Madison inventors.

“Our Innovation Awards recognize some of the most exciting early-stage discoveries on campus,” says Erik Iverson, CEO of WARF. “We’re pleased to celebrate the nominees and the transformative work taking place across the UW-Madison community.”

Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty Melih Eriten and Corinne Henak were among the 2022 WARF Innovation Award finalists. Eriten and Henak developed a method for testing the mechanical and failure properties of soft materials using a non-contact, portable vibrometer that measures acoustic emissions.

Featured image caption: Postdoctoral researcher Jizhe Cai studies a material made of nanofibers in Assistant Professor Ramathasan Thevamaran’s lab.

New, lightweight material to protect against bullets and other high-speed impacts