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CTL eNewsletter: December 2009

Manufacturing Organic Electronics Using Well-Established Semiconductor Industry Infrastructure

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY - Electronics made of organic materials (as opposed to traditional silicon), require less energy to operate, weigh less, and can be made on flexible backings, making them attractive for use in displays and solar panels. Despite their advantages, mass production of electronic devices using organic materials has been hindered by the fact that manufacturers would have to adopt completely new and costly equipment. To address this barrier, Cornell startup Orthogonal, Inc., based in Ithaca, NY, is commercializing a technique to make organic solar cells, organic displays (or OLEDs) and other electronics that will enable manufacturers to use the same equipment they already own. "Instead of building new plants and developing new processes, we want to enable manufacturers to use equipment and knowledge around a process that already exists," says Fox Holt, CEO of Orthogonal.


Orthogonal, Inc. enables manufacturers to make organic electronics on the same machinery they use to make silicon-based electronics. Currently, most silicon-based electronics are manufactured using a process called photolithography; it works by etching patterns onto a surface using light, solvents and a light-sensitive chemical called a photoresist. Conventional photoresist chemical systems used in photolithography are harsh, environmentally unfriendly, and they destroy organic materials in the process. In contrast, Orthogonal’s non-toxic photoresist system does not degrade organic materials. Orthogonal’s patent-pending chemicals and process were invented by Dr. Christopher Ober and Dr. George Malliaras of Cornell’s College of Engineering.


Orthogonal CEO Fox Holt shakes hands with CCTEC licensing officer Martin Teschl.


Orthogonal, Inc.’s first products are currently being tested by electronics manufacturers and should soon help the industry mass-produce a variety of organic electronics. Orthogonal has built prototype pixels, solar cells, and thin film transistors using standard photolithographic equipment. So far, the company’s chemicals and process have proven compatible with all the organic semiconducting materials the company has tested. Dr. Ober describes the solvents as environmentally benign and easy to work with. The company estimates that while the new solvents may cost more than those used to make silicon electronics, both the price of the organic electronic materials compared to silicon and the low toxicity of the solvents (reducing the cost to work with and dispose of the solvents) should make the overall process cheaper than using conventional photolithography to make silicon electronics.

For more information about Orthogonal, Inc., contact Martin Teschl at

Pre-Clinical Measurement System of Potential Side Effects in Drug Candidates

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY - As companies bring new drugs to market, an estimated three-quarter of development costs occur in the lab before the drug is tested on humans.  Since an acceptable level of side effects in humans is a critical factor in getting FDA approval for a new drug, a test that could indicate the likelihood of side effects earlier in the development process could significantly lower costs. Dr. Olaf Andersen of Weill Cornell Medical College and his student, Helgi Ingolfsson have developed a test to help drug companies identify and weed out drug candidates in pre-clinical studies rather than in later human trials. Andersen’s test provides drug researchers with objective, repeatable data that indicates the likelihood of potential side effects that would be caused by a drug candidate.


The Control figure to the left in the image represents an artificial cell in the presence of a test compound that causes fewer changes to cell membrane, hence causing fewer potential side effects in the body. Its graph indicates a lower rate of fluorescence decay. The artificial cell to the right is more impacted by the test compound, causing the fluorescence chemical to be quenched more rapidly.


Drug side effects are caused by changes to cell proteins that result when a foreign substance is introduced into the body.  Proteins normally change their shape when they do their job.  When the ease with which proteins change shape is altered, normal cellular activities are disrupted, causing unintended changes to a person’s bodily processes, or side effects.  The test developed by Andersen and Ingólfsson uses a solution with artificial cells that contain protein and a fluorescent chemical.  When the drug that’s being tested is dropped into the solution, the drug interacts with the proteins inside the artificial cells, causing channels to open up in the cell membrane.  These conducting channels permit solution to flow into the cell, quenching the fluorescent chemical inside.  The greater the drug’s impact on cell proteins, the greater the number of conducting channels and hence, solution inflow.   As a result, drugs that heavily impact cell proteins in the test environment will quench more of the fluorescent chemical inside the artificial cell, indicating the likelihood and severity of side effects if the drug were to be ingested by humans.   The test can be used to test many compounds quickly, so it could become an important tool for the pharmaceutical industry.


For more information on this technology, contact Bruce Toman at


Upcoming Events

Entrepreneurship Seminar Series - Raising Money

Date: February 19, 2010
Time: 2:30PM - 4:30PM
Location: B8 Sage Hall

Seminar Topic: Raising Money - Getting From Business Plan to Funded Company. The speaker will be Steven Gal, Visiting Associate Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at The Johnson School.

Upstate New York Biocareer Connection

Date: March 16, 2010
Time: 12:45PM - 5:00PM
Location: TC3 Campus, Dryden, NY

Interested in finding out what Upstate NY has to offer in the field of bioscience? The Upstate NY Biocareer Connection will feature four panels focused on the various careers available in the life sciences. Also, exhibitors from across the region will be at the event to share information and opportunities.

CCTEC New Business & Emerging Technology Showcase™

Date: April 15, 2010
Time: 1:00PM - 3:00PM
Location: Statler Hotel Ballroom

The CCTEC New Business & Emerging Technology Showcase will highlight exciting new Cornell technologies and unique business opportunities from both the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College. This showcase is part of the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration event.

Visit the Celebration web site by clicking here.

Recent Events

IP & Pizza™, Faculty of Computing & Information Science

Date: December 8, 2009

CCTEC, along with the Faculty of Computing and Information Science, held a discussion on software intellectual property issues. Pizza and salad was available. This event was sponsored by Weingarten, Schurgin, Gagnebin & Lebovici.

To view a photo from this event, click here.

Entrepreneurship Seminar Series - Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment

Date: November 20, 2009

Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment - Get it Right, Don't Chase Ghosts, Slay the Market! Event speaker was Ted Julian, a well-known high-tech entrepreneur.

Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: November 3, 2009

Jonathan Butcher, Biomedical Engineering, presented his "Device for Mechanical Biopsy of Soft Tissue" while attendees enjoyed beer, wine, and hors d'oeuvres.

To view photos from this event, click here.

Cornell BioPharma Network/Cornell Entrepreneur Network Joint Event

Date: October 28, 2009

Attendees from the Cornell BioPharma Network and the Cornell Entrepreneur Network enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and networking at the first face-to-face event of the Cornell BioPharma Network. Dr. Howard Fillit, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), presented on ADDF. ADDF is a pioneering “venture philanthropy” that directly invests in early-stage companies pursuing drugs and diagnostics for Alzheimer’s. In our post-crash era, in which the venture capital model seems broken, organizations like ADDF are emerging as a crucial source of funding for high risk biotech ventures. For more information on ADDF, visit

To join the Cornell BioPharma Network, you must have a Cornell NetID.  Join by clicking here.

To view photos from this event, click here.

2009 Technology Innovation Gala

Date: October 22, 2009

The inaugural Technology Innovation Gala reception was held to recognize Cornell faculty innovators whose research results have been licensed to industry partners for commercial development since January 2007.

For more information about the Gala, click here.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Cornell Technology Venture Forum™

Date: October 22, 2009

The Cornell Technology Venture Forum™ featured emerging technology and company presentations in the form of powerpoints and posters.

For more information about CTVF 09, click here

Click here to view photos from the event.