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Texas Innovator Spring 2008
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“We cannot make a profit unless we take care of the customer, and we can’t take care of the customer unless we make a profit.”
– Gerard Arpey, AMR CEO

“You need to surround yourself with the right people, be open to the right idea when it comes along... and always retain the flexibility to adapt as circumstances and opportunities evolve.”
– Paul Castella, CardioSpectra Inc. President & CEO

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A Message from

Comptroller Susan Combs

When hurricane season comes to the Gulf of Mexico, a Texas-based flood prediction center will be watching. The group comprises local governments and eight universities in Texas and Louisiana. Their unique collaboration will provide warnings to coastal residents about storm strength and flood damage as well as advice on evacuations.

You’ll find this innovative idea along with others on genome research, alternative energy sources, reduced diesel engine emissions and more in this issue of Texas Innovator. And visit us online at for Web-only content, including stories on a futuristic space suit for tomorrow’s astronaut, and a treadmill that helps brain-injury sufferers learn to walk again. Texas Innovator, like Texas itself, is full of innovators. As it inspires your creativity, we invite you to e-mail us.


Quantum dots for solar power

Scientists at Rice University have devised a cheaper, faster way to produce molecular specks of semiconductors called quantum dots. The discovery could clear the way for better, less expensive solar energy panels.

Their work involves a new chemical method for making cadmium selenide quantum dots, which can effectively convert sunlight into electrical energy. Scientists at Rice’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) led the study.

“Our work knocks down a big barrier in developing quantum-dot-based photovoltaics as an alternative to the conventional, more expensive silicon-based solar cells,” says Michael Wong, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Quantum dots are megamolecules of semiconducting materials that are smaller than living cells. Scientists have studied them with an eye toward using them in medical tests, chemical sensors and other devices.

Researchers have found that four-legged quantum dots – tetrapods – are more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than regular quantum dots.

There is still no efficient way to produce tetrapods, Wong says. Current methods lead to uneven particles. CBEN’s formula produces same-sized particles, of which more than 90 percent are tetrapods.

The worldwide market for nanoelectronics was estimated at $1.83 billion in 2005 and is forecast to reach $4.2 billion by the year 2010, according to the World Nanotechnology Market 2006 report by RNCOS Publishing Solutions.

For more information, contact Jade Boyd, (713) 348-6778,



Mapping the genome

A $500,000 University of Texas System grant helped the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Nursing establish a Genomics Translational Research Laboratory (GTRL).

The laboratory’s research focuses on how the entire human genome interacts not only with itself but with its outside environment, says Patricia Newcomb, an assistant professor at the GTRL.

“Because we focus on translational research, we ask questions about how genomics can influence the care of patients,” Newcomb says.

The UTA nursing program, which has more than 900 students, organized the facility’s ribbon cutting in January 2008. GTRL is expected to include several Ph.D. and master’s degree students within a few years.

For more information, contact Carolyn Cason,, (817) 272-5781,

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