A&S Faculty recognized for Patents, Licenses, and Options

New knowledge honored at faculty celebration

Adapted from UofL Today, September 2013

Discovering new knowledge is critical to the mission of any university but especially to a research university such as the University of Louisville.
Over the last academic year, the work of 65 UofL faculty resulted in new or renewed U.S. patents, licenses and options.

Making new discoveries, however, is only part of the university’s purpose.

“We not only learn new things, but we embrace as part of our mission getting that knowledge out where it actually helps people,” said Bill Pierce, executive vice president for research and innovation. “If we just discover new things and nothing comes from them, then nobody benefits from them.”

Seeking patents, licenses and options—each of which has a different part in the research and development process—is one way that UofL shares its discoveries. In simple terms, a patent is a government grant that gives an inventor the sole right to make, use and sell his or her invention for a set period of time; it protects the idea behind the invention. A license is an agreement between the patent holder and an outside party that allows the outside party to develop, distribute and sell an invention in the commercial market—provided it pays royalties to the patent holder on any profit it makes. An option is an agreement whereby a patent holder allows an outside party limited access to an invention for further development.

UofL holds the patents, licenses and options of its faculty’s work and pays as much as a 50 percent royalty to the faculty members who made the discoveries. “I believe that this is the most generous patent royalty policy of any university,” Pierce said.

It’s incentive to keep inventing, he explained.

“We want our inventors…to invent because that’s what they’re good at. It is every bit as valuable for them to turn (their inventions) over to a company (for further development) and go back to the laboratory and invent something else” as it is for them to fully develop their inventions, Pierce said.

Pierce, President James Ramsey and Provost Shirley Willihnganz recently recognized the faculty whose work resulted in new or renewed U.S. patents, licenses and options in the 2012 ‒ 2013 academic year.

A&S Faculty among those honored:


  • Carolyn Klinge, School of Medicine, Gamini Sumanasekera, A&S Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Thomas Roussel and Rob Keynton, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, developed a technology capable of electrokinetically separating multiple molecules, including proteins and nucleic acids, from minute samples. It will have valuable uses in the medical industry.
  • Francis Zamborini, A&S Department of Chemistry, developed chemical switches and sensors for the detection and storage of hydrogen for fuel cell applications.


  • Mahendra Sunkara, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, and Gamini Sumanasekera, A&S Physics and Astronomy: Advanced Energy Materials LLC, followed an option with a license to commercially develop a portfolio of technologies related to nanowire-based materials in various fields including energy storage and conversion.
  • Jeff Hay and John Kielkopf, A&S Physics and Astronomy: RDI LLC, followed an option with an exclusive license to develop and commercialize a noncontact imaging sensor system to measure and analyze an object’s position, motion and resonance.
  • Gerald Hammond and Bo Xu, A&S Chemistry: Rigid Solutions, a faculty startup company, has the license to develop a chemical matrix system that will be used to extract chemical products from mixtures of reaction solvents.


  • Donald Demuth, School of Dentistry, andFrederick Luzzio, A&S Chemistry: Option to IMBA 13-002 for technology relating to anti-biofilm compounds for dental applications.