A Week in Review: 3/1/15 – 3/7/15

March 6, 2015

New nanomaterials will boost renewable energy
Fuel cells usually use expensive platinum electrodes, but a non-metal alternative could be an affordable solution for energy security. Fuel cells generate electricity by oxidizing fuel into water, providing clean and sustainable power.
AFOSR PO: Dr. Joycelyn Harrison and Dr. Charles Lee

SPIE announces 2015 award winners
Gold Medal of the Society goes to University of Pennsylvania professor Nader Engheta
Winners of prestigious annual awards have been announced by the Awards Committee of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The awards recognize outstanding individual and team technical accomplishments and meritorious service to the Society.
AFOSR PO: Dr. Harold Weinstock

March 3, 2015

ECE Researchers Create First Flexible Silicon Photonic Crystal Cavity
Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering have created the first silicon nanomembrane based flexible photonic crystal cavity. This new form of silicon photonic devices is believed to have numerous applications in wearable devices and biomedical instruments.
AFOSR Dr. Gernot Pomrenke

March 2, 2015

Engineering Researcher Lands Air Force Grant to Build Smarter Antenna
Despite their modern design and capabilities, today’s antennas aren’t nearly as smart as the devices they power. But a researcher at Utah State University’s College of Engineering is trying to change that with new research aimed at making antenna technology work smarter.
AFOSR PODr. Kathleen Kaplan

Aerogel catalyst shows promise for fuel cells
A team led by materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and chemist James Tour made metal-free aerogels from graphene nanoribbons and various levels of boron and nitrogen to test their electrochemical properties. In tests involving half of the catalytic reaction that takes place in fuel cells, they discovered versions with about 10 percent boron and nitrogen were efficient in catalyzing what’s known as an oxygen reduction reaction, a step in producing energy from feedstocks like methanol.
AFOSR POs: Dr. Joycelyn Harrison, Dr. Ken Goretta, and Dr. Charles Lee

Black phosphorus is new ‘wonder material’ for improving optical communication
Phosphorus, a highly reactive element commonly found in match heads, tracer bullets, and fertilizers, can be turned into a stable crystalline form known as black phosphorus. In a new study, researchers from the University of Minnesota used an ultrathin black phosphorus film—only 20 layers of atoms—to demonstrate high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits.