Week in Review: 12/7/14 – 12/13/14

December 11, 2014

Penn Research Outlines Basic Rules for Construction With a Type of Origami
A team of University of Pennsylvania researchers is turning kirigami, a related art form that allows the paper to be cut, into a technique that can be applied equally to structures on those vastly divergent length scales. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation through its ODISSEI program, the American Philosophical Society and the Simons Foundation.

December 10, 2014

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene
Researchers at Rice University have created flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene from a cheap polymer by burning it with a computer-controlled laser. The process works in air at room temperature and eliminates the need for hot furnaces and controlled environments, and it makes graphene that may be suitable for electronics or energy storage.

December 9, 2014

Local Scrabble player places second in world
A competitive Scrabble player who works at the Rome Air Force Research Laboratory, Lipe last month achieved what he called an “amazing experience,” finishing second at the world Scrabble Champions Tournament in London.

Contact lens merges plastics and active electronics via 3-D printing
As part of a project demonstrating new 3-D printing techniques, Princeton researchers have embedded tiny light-emitting diodes into a standard contact lens, allowing the device to project beams of colored light.

A Week in Review: 9/21/14 – 9/27/14

September 26, 2014

AFOSR welcomes new director, Dr. Thomas F. Christian
The Air Force Research Laboratory announced the appointment of a new director at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Va.  Dr. Thomas F. Christian will join AFOSR as the 24th director of the agency, which boasts a 63-year history of continuously funding breakthrough basic research for the long-term benefit of the United States Air Force.

September 25, 2014

New Discovery Could Pave the Way for Spin-based Computing
Electricity and magnetism rule our digital world. Semiconductors process electrical information, while magnetic materials enable long-term data storage. A University of Pittsburgh research team has discovered a way to fuse these two distinct properties in a single material, paving the way for new ultrahigh density storage and computing architectures. This discovery was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Army Research Office. http://www.news.pitt.edu/news/new-discovery-could-pave-way-spin-based-computing

Penn Chemists Observe Key Reaction for Producing ‘Atmosphere’s Detergent’ Earth’s atmosphere is a complicated dance of molecules. The chemical output of plants, animals and human industry rise into the air and pair off in sequences of chemical reactions. Such processes help maintain the atmosphere’s chemical balance; for example, some break down pollutants emitted from the burning of fossil fuels. Understanding exactly how these reactions proceed is critical for predicting how the atmosphere will respond to environmental changes, but some of the steps of this dance are so quick that all of the molecules involved haven’t been measured in the wild. A University of Pennsylvania team has now observed one of these rapid atmospheric reactions in the lab.

September 23, 2014

Fluorescent Dyes Highlight Hard-to-Detect Damages in Composites
Current research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is creating a process that uses fluorescence to detect both damage and water in composites, a first for composites. The first system utilizes Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), a method frequently used in molecular biology research to probe the interaction between proteins and other biopolymers. The second approach uses a mechanophore, a molecule that changes color in response to mechanical forces. http://compositesmanufacturingmagazine.com/2014/09/fluorescent-dyes-highlight-hard-detect-damages-composites/

September 22, 2014

Nature’s elegant and efficient vision systems can detect cancer
Mantis shrimp eyes are inspiring the design of new cameras that can detect a variety of cancers and visualise brain activity. University of Queensland research has found that the shrimp’s compound eyes are superbly tuned to detect polarised light, providing a streamlined framework for technology to mimic. The Australian Research Council, the Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development and the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research are funding the work. http://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2014/09/nature%E2%80%99s-elegant-and-efficient-vision-systems-can-detect-cancer

Engineers show light can play seesaw at the nanoscale
University of Minnesota electrical engineering researchers have developed a unique nanoscale device that for the first time demonstrates mechanical transportation of light. The discovery could have major implications for creating faster and more efficient optical devices for computation and communication. The team’s research was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The device was fabricated in the cleanroom at the Minnesota Nano Center at the University of Minnesota. http://discover.umn.edu/news/science-technology/engineers-show-light-can-play-seesaw-nanoscale

A Week in Review 6/8/14 – 6/14/14

June 12, 2014

When good people do bad things
Being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs, researchers find. The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Packard Foundation.

June 11, 2014

Suffocating cells for science
In May 2009, El-Naggar made a discovery, from which all of the experiments in his lab have since sprung: A few years earlier, a pair of scientists discovered that microbes grow long, hairy filaments or fibers that are electrically conductive. El-Naggar had a hypothesis. These fibers, he suspected, serve as a conductive bridge between the cell and the rock that they’re breathing. In other words, the path the electrons take to move from the cell body to material outside the cell. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/suffocating-cells-science/

Nanotube forests drink water from arid air
New research by scientists at Rice University demonstrated that forests of carbon nanotubes can be made to harvest water molecules from arid desert air and store them for future use. The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative supported the research.

Self-Folding Printable Lamp
MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania have been working on a project, developing soft robots with flexible, printed circuits. Last year a robot called the Crawling Inchworm was created that could be printed out flat, then fold itself into shape and move around with the help of a motor and power supply.

June 9, 2014

Designing Ion ‘Highway Systems’ for Batteries
A McCormick team advanced the understanding of plastics for battery application

June 8, 2014

Howard Schlossberg Retirement Symposium
Howard “Howie” R. Schlossberg, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research program officer for optical sciences, has made critical contributions to the field of optics and lasers throughout his eminent career. He has guided research in diverse areas, such as ultra-fast optoelectronic techniques, nonlinear optics, laser cooling, and medical laser treatments. Dr. Schlossberg is a Fellow of OSA, IEEE, and ASLMS.

A Week in Review: 11/24/13 – 11/30/13

November 26, 2013

Nanotech Innovation Keeps Surfaces Clean and Transparent
A spin-off company from Penn has found a way to solve the problem of keeping surfaces clean, while also keeping them transparent.

Nelum Sciences, created under an UPstart program in Penn’s Center for Technology Transfer, has developed a superhydrophobic coating that can be sprayed onto any surface. The water-based solution contains nanoscopic particles that add a nearly invisible layer of roughness to a surface. This increases the contact angle of the material to which these particles are applied.

November 27, 2013

BYU engineers turn to origami to solve astronomical space problem
Partnership with NASA could send origami to final frontier

BYU engineers have teamed up with a world-renowned origami expert to solve one of space exploration’s greatest (and most ironic) problems: lack of space.
Working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a team of mechanical engineering students and faculty have designed a solar array that can be tightly compacted for launch and then deployed in space to generate power for space stations or satellites.

A Week in Review: 7/14/13 – 7/20/13

July 17, 2013

Elastic electronics: Stretchable gold conductor grows its own wires

Networks of spherical nanoparticles embedded in elastic materials may make the best stretchy conductors yet, engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered.

July 18, 2013

Penn Researchers Help Show New Way to Study and Improve Catalytic Reactions

Catalysts are everywhere. They make chemical reactions that normally occur at extremely high temperatures and pressures possible within factories, cars and the comparatively balmy conditions within the human body. Developing better catalysts, however, is mainly a hit-or-miss process. Now, a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Trieste and Brookhaven National Laboratory has shown a way to precisely design the active elements of a certain class of catalysts, showing which parameters are most critical for improving performance.