Millennium Cafe

Mar 28 2017

Protecting Lithium Metal Anodes with Sulfur-rich Polymers

Li-ion batteries can be improved by leaps-and-bounds if the graphite anodes used in state-of-the-art batteries today are replaced with lithium metal.  However, Lithium metal easily reacts with electrolytes to form a solid-electrolyte interface (SEI). When lithium metal anodes are charged and discharged, lithium dendrites that can cause short circuits grow on the metal surface, a major battery safety issue.

Seamless Architecture

Conventional architecture relies on complex joints to bring materials together. For instance, a metal frame is typically used to mechanically fasten glass inside a masonry wall, requiring an array of smaller joints to create the necessary thermal, fluid, vapor, and acoustical barriers and insulating layers, each introducing added complexity, cost, and labor. Imagine instead walking along a masonry wall that seamlessly transitions to glass – from opaque, gray, heavy, and textured - to transparent, glassy, light, and smooth.

Mar 21 2017

Brass Quintet and the Jazz Idiom

One of the most modern of “traditional” ensembles, the brass quintet has shared a close relationship with jazz.  We will be performing two standard jazz brass quintets and discussing how the popularity of jazz helped bridge the gap between the jazz and classical genres of music.

Materials that Live

Research: Living Liquid Crystals.   A new computational model and a set of experiments show how defects in the liquid crystal can concentrate or deplete the bacteria, suggesting a novel method for manipulating microbial populations.

Mar 14 2017

The Millennium Café scheduled for March 14th has been cancelled In light of the current weather forecast.

Feb 28 2017

Building Sea-Mountains with Light

For the last 200 million years, corals in symbiosis with photosynthetic microscopic algae have dominated the nutrient deprived bottoms of shallow tropical oceans. In these environments, symbiotic corals are responsible for the formation of coral reefs, one of the most productive, and biodiverse marine ecosystems.  In this talk I will discuss how multiple scattering of solar radiation on the calcareous surface of corals allow the microscopic microalgae to collect light with minimal investments in photosynthetic pigments. This property may explain why corals are capable of forming the largest biogenic structures of the planet in waters depleted in nutrients.

How an Electron Monochromator Can Save Soft Nanomaterials

Soft nanomaterials would benefit from high-resolution imaging of their atomic and chemical structures, but are rapidly damaged under a high-energy electron beam.  A technique to use an electron monochromator to achieve low-dose imaging in a transmission electron microscope is discussed in its application to carbon nanothreads.

Feb 21 2017

Center for e-Design: Enriching the Relationship between Industry and Academia”

Penn State is the newest addition to the Center for e-Design, a 7-university, 35+ member NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC).  The center works with its members to research and advance solutions to complex problems associated with the design, production, distribution, and sustainment of innovative and high quality products and systems, that minimize costs and are responsive to the rapidly changing marketplace.  Concurrent design of products and supporting processes; improved integration and collaboration among people, tools, and information; process improvements; knowledge capture and reuse; and automated/assisted decision-making are just some of the strategies employed.  Much expertise and opportunities for collaboration exist in areas such as creativity, crowd-based design, big data analytics, smart manufacturing, model-based enterprise, and more!  This talk will provide an overview of the Center and encourage engaged collaborations.

Colloidal Dispersion Formulated Small Molecule Nanoparticles for Cancer Treatment and Drug Resistance

We have developed a novel strategy for preparing nanoparticles that are effective for multi-drug resistant cancers.  A small peptide anticancer molecule and a widely used chemotherapy drug synergistically inhibit the growth of drug resistant uterine cancer cells. This pair of chemicals form dual-drug nano-particles with a diameter ranging from 3.4 nm to 60.1 nm via colloidal chemistry. We dubbed these as the Dox-6E particles, which demonstrate enhanced permeation and retention effects, leading to 1) extend blood circulation time; 2) accumulate more in tumor tissue and less in heart and kidney; and 3) significantly inhibit multi-drug resistant tumor growth in mice.

Feb 14 2017

Cacao for Peace: From Plant Genomics to Training of Farmers in Indigenous Communities

For more than 30 years Penn State has been the home of the endowed molecular biology program of cacao. The basic and applied research conducted by the group has spanned research domains from genomics, proteomics, tissue culture, and sensory science. The presentation will discuss current genomics approaches to study plant disease resistance and activities working directly with farmers to support the peace process in Colombia. We are seeking interdisciplinary collaborators interested in our wide-range programs.

Progress Report: Huck Strategic Aim for Convergence of Biological, Engineering, and Materials Science

A Huck Strategic Aim is to facilitate transformative discoveries in a collaborative environment at the interface between life sciences, engineering and material science.  Since 2014, we have co-hired and/or helped to recruit a number of new faculty whose work embodies this convergence.  We have run a seed grant program to stimulate new directions and, last week, announced a matching funds program for life scientists to work on MCL instruments and learn from MCL staff.  A next phase will open with the installation this spring of the FEI Titan Krios microscope, which has involved collaborative efforts between Huck and MRI in the design, siting, and operations planning for this amazing new instrument.  I briefly summarize these initiatives and invite ideas for next steps.

Feb 7 2017

Laser Writing of Diverse Materials with Solvothermal Reaction Voxels

Laser lithography is a powerful tool for direct-writing and patterning of surfaces with both high customizability and precision. I will present our progress on the development of a laser writing method that uses the focus of a laser to both synthesize and deposit many materials (hard and soft) from solutions using sub-femtoliter "reaction voxels".

Quantified Walk: Knitted Prototype for Gait Monitoring

How can we make a comfortable and fashionable garment that integrates required electronics and circuitry into a knitted textile that can monitor for gait patterning?  I will present the design of a prototype pair of knitted leggings that use flexible knitted circuits integrated into a breathable cotton stretch material of our design that will stream live data through a machine-learning algorithm.

Jan 31 2017

Pulsed Laser Annealing of Carbon

Carbon materials and the graphitization process have impacted society in many ways since 1800 when Sir Humphry Davy first produced an electric arc from carbon electrodes.  Due to the high temperatures required for graphitization little is known about the mechanisms and kinetics of formation.  Pulsed laser annealing provides the energy needed for graphitization on the nanosecond timescale and thus enables the study and development of kinetics, trajectories, and highly engineered carbons.

AnyMDx: Mobile Real-Time DNA Analysis Anywhere, Anytime, Anyone

Genotyping of microbes usually involves complex sample preparation steps and well-equipped labs. In this talk, I will describe a handheld and mobile nucleic acid diagnostic platform, AnyMDx.  By leveraging advanced microfluidic, microelectronic and optic technologies, AnyMDx is the first genetic analyzer able to integrate all the required steps in nucleic acid diagnosis, including sample preparation, amplification and results reading, in a ‘sample-in-answer-out’ fashion.

Jan 24 2017

Joining of Lightweight Dissimilar Materials

With increasing environmental concerns and demands for higher performance, lightweight construction is an important factor not only in the transportation industry but also in general engineering. When joining components made by different materials for lightweighting, it raises a challenge for joining/welding technology. This talk will review our recent progress on solid state joining methods:  process analytic modeling, microstructure evolution, and corrosion behavior.

Rocks, Bugs, Beakers, and Pee: The Material of Artists Colors

Shockingly, few art historians today understand how dyes and pigments have been produced in the past, and in general we have lost touch with the ways in which the material substrate of color has influenced the meaning of art. This talk will briefly demonstrate the importance of understanding historical pigments and dyes from a material perspective, and will explore possibilities for fruitful intersections between historical and forensic approaches to color.

Jan 17 2017

How to Get More Bang for your Buck from Organic Crystals

Organic materials offer the potential to double solar cell output.  However, this gain is dependent upon precisely how the molecules pack together when they crystallize.  In order to apply these materials to solar cells, we need understand how their specific molecular packing structures control performance.  In this talk I will discuss how MCL helped solve the crystal structures and packaging arrangements of an organic molecule frequently used in solar cells and how their structures assist in designing and processing new materials.

Investigating a “dead man’s root”

A postmortem root band (PMRB) is a distinct microscopic feature that is postulated to occur in hair remaining in the follicle during the postmortem interval.  The scientific validity of this premise has been highlighted in two recent high-profile criminal cases. To better understand the fundamental aspects of postmortem root banding, the microscopic properties of known PMRBs were characterized by light and scanning electron microscopy.

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