Backyard insect inspires invisibility devices, next gen tech

TEM of Brochosomes

By Jamie Oberdick

Leafhoppers, a common backyard insect, secrete and coat themselves in tiny mysterious particles that could provide both the inspiration and the instructions for next-generation technology, according to a new study led by Penn State researchers. In a first, the team precisely replicated the complex geometry of these particles, called brochosomes, and elucidated a better understanding of how they absorb both visible and ultraviolet light.

Mussels inspire an eco-friendly way to extract critical rare earth elements

mussel stickiness inspires researchers at penn state

By Jamie Oberdick

There is a conundrum around rare earth elements (REE). They play a key role in clean energy, vital to the production of lightweight, efficient batteries and essential components in wind turbines. Conversely, conventional extraction of these elements raises environmental concerns ranging from habitat destruction to water and air pollution to the high amount of energy needed to extract and process these elements.  

New ferroelectric material could give robots muscles

Image showing actuation of ferroelectric polymers driven by Joule heating

By Jamie Oberdick

UNVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new type of ferroelectric polymer that is exceptionally good at converting electrical energy into mechanical strain holds promise as a high-performance motion controller or “actuator” with great potential for applications in medical devices, advanced robotics, and precision positioning systems, according to a team of international researchers led by Penn State.

Cunjiang Yu

Cunjiang Yu

Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics

403C Earth and Engineering Sciences Building
University Park, PA 16802

(o) 814-865-7828
Fariborz Tavagarian

Fariborz Tavagarian

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Olmsted Building, W239g
Penn State Harrisburg
Middletown, PA 17057

(o) 717-948-6125

Rubbery Camouflage Skin Exhibits Smart And Stretchy Behaviors

By Mary Fetzer

The skin of cephalopods, such as octopuses, squids and cuttlefish, is stretchy and smart, contributing to these creatures’ ability to sense and respond to their surroundings. A Penn State-led collaboration has harnessed these properties to create an artificial skin that mimics both the elasticity and the neurologic functions of cephalopod skin, with potential applications for neurorobotics, skin prosthetics, artificial organs and more.