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If you’ve never heard of Cerionx and its “TipCharger” -- you will.

Photo of PipetsThis New Jersey start-up company recently moved out of the Rutgers-Camden Business Incubator after receiving $3.2 million in venture capital for its patented cleaning technology using atmospheric plasma rather than expensive solvents or disposable equipment.

“There are few things you can invent that are better, faster and cheaper,” said Paul Hensley, CEO. “But that’s where we are with this technology.’

Pipets – the slender tubes used in laboratories for measuring liquids or transferring them from one container to another – must be cleaned after each use to avoid carryover or contamination. Cerionx uses a radio frequency power supply to pump energy into room air and create plasma – similar to boiling the air, Hensley explained. When laboratory pipets come in contact with the plasma, any material on the pipet is removed in less than 15 seconds.

Using plasma – the fourth state of matter – for such a practical use is revolutionary, Hensley said. “We are bringing a product to market and inventing at the same time. We are doing something nobody’s done before.”

Photo of plasmaSince launching Microplate Automation in May 2000, Hensley had been the company’s sole employee until July 2004 when he hired several workers in anticipation of shipping his first products in January 2005. The company changed its name to Cerionx in December 2004.

Hensley credits the Rutgers-Camden Business Incubator with enabling Cerionx to survive long enough to become successful.

Spending more than $1,500 a month out of pocket, Hensley thought he would run out of money before reaching the point where he could attract venture funding. Moving to the incubator cut his monthly expenses to less than $400.

“That made the difference between whether I was able to keep going or not,” Hensley said. “It’s fair to say that if we hadn’t been in the incubator, we probably wouldn’t have survived as a company.”