The Millennium Cafe

Millennium Science Complex - 3rd Floor Commons


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The Millennium Cafe

Exchanging ideas and challenges

May 2 2017
Engineering Crystal Structure and Elemental Composition in Nanomaterials via Cation Exchange

The ability to selectively form one crystal structure among several options in a polymorphic system is an important goal in solid-state synthesis, as the arrangement of constituent atoms in a solid helps to define the properties of the material. Using nanoscale cation exchange, we have begun to develop a rational approach for selectively obtaining metastable polymorphs of transition metal sulfides.

Biology and Physical Properties Interact During Oral Texture Perception

Quantitative and reliable measures of perceptual phenomenon can be obtained via psychophysical methods that date back to 1860. In the mouth, food sensations result from physical and chemical stimuli that activate biologically determined mechanisms. This talk will discuss physical and biological factors involved in the perception of chocolate and pudding.  

Apr 25 2017
Electroactive Polymers (EAPs) for Origami-Inspired Smart Structures

Origami-inspired engineering is an emerging field of engineering where principles of origami are coupled with self-folding mechanisms to realize smart structures that are otherwise difficult to achieve. In this talk, I describe the utilization of electroactive polymers (EAPs) to actuate different origami-inspired smart structures ranging from simple bending-folding to origami-inspired action figures such as flapping of butterfly wings, catapult launching a projectile, and assembly of cubic box and pyramid from a flat sheet. Applications of this concept includes deployable space structures, biomedical devices, soft-robotics etc.

A Kaleidoscope of Color: Studio Glass at the Palmer

Interest in contemporary glass on the part of collectors, galleries, and museums has grown exponentially in recent years, more than a half century after the founding of the studio glass movement in the early 1960s. Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, the Palmer Museum of Art is poised to become one of the preeminent destinations for studio glass on the East Coast. Dr. Robinson will provide a brief overview of the current glass exhibition, A Kaleidoscope of Color, which will be on view at the Palmer through April 30.

Apr 18 2017
Evan Pugh and His Vision for Penn State: The Model Agricultural College for America

Penn State's founding president, Evan Pugh (1859-64), was a European-educated scientist who established the first successful agricultural college in America, based on a rigorous scientific curriculum. With the Civil War raging in the background, Pugh quickly built the Farmers' High School into the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania, fought for the Morrill Land-Grant College Act and won the land-grant designation from the Pennsylvania Legislature. Pugh was a visionary leader and champion of scientific agriculture on a national scale.


Probing Porosity Evolution During Weathering of Bedrock within the Appalachian Piedmont”

Physical and biogeochemical processes work together to break down unweathered, impermeable bedrock into a more porous media, which releases nutrients and opens new pathways for gases and fluids to move through the subsurface. Weathering processes control long-term atmospheric pCO2 and pO2, as well as release nutrients that were previously unavailable to life on Earth. Porosity and permeability of the bedrock are typically first order controls on the movement of fluids through the subsurface and thus, chemical weathering. In this project, we use neutron scattering techniques to evaluate how nano-porosity and pore connectivity during weathering in different rock types within a localized region in the Appalachian Piedmont. 

Apr 11 2017
Piezoelectric Adjustable X-ray Optics

The next generation of X-ray telescopes are aiming for improved image resolution and increased collection areas in order to allow astronomers to see further into space with more detail than ever before. By using a piezoelectric thin film to precisely control the curvature of X-ray mirrors piezoelectric adjustable optics offer a promising avenue for achieving this goal.  The adjustable mirrors are multilayer devices that rely on the successful integration of glass, metal, metal oxide and polymer components, to meet the application’s demands. As a result, the project is highly collaborative and multidisciplinary, providing a wide range of scientific and engineering hurdles to overcome.

Leveraging People, Process, and Data to Advance the Large-scale Deployment of Sustainable Structural Materials

The overarching goal for this research is studying, designing, and validating the use of sustainable cementitious materials in infrastructural applications. The initial use case addresses the need for a large-scale deployment of building envelopes that are more resilient to extreme weather events and also have enhanced durability, higher moisture and thermal resistance, lower cost, and reduced environmental and economic impact compared to conventional construction materials. This is motivated by the fact that cementitious materials, especially in the form of standard concrete mixtures, are the most commonly used man-made construction materials on earth and, due to the use of cement as a binder, it accounts for about 4% of the CO2 emissions worldwide.

Apr 4 2017
Revealing the Biochemistry of Soluble Aggregates in Diseases

Protein misfolding and aggregation leads to a variety of diseases, termed as protein misfolding diseases. It is now appreciated that amyloid toxicity results not necessarily from insoluble aggregates or fibrils, but primarily from soluble, misfolded conformational species that accumulate in cells during the aggregation cascade of amyloidogenic proteins. My talk outlines our efforts to understand the biochemical nature of this species and its mechanism of action in disease initiation and progression.

Detecting Flaws During Metal Additive Manufacturing

Metal-based additive manufacturing is realizing unprecedented growth as industry and government begin to recognize the potential benefits it may offer to designers, fabricators, and logistics professionals.  GE made waves when they produced its first AM fuel nozzle in June 2015.  The AM-enabled fuel nozzle cuts weight, improves performance, and consolidates an assembly of 20 parts into one.  Since then, GE has bought two of the leading metal AM system producers in the world, has opened up at $39M AM Center north of Pittsburgh, and has created a new business unit focused solely on AM.  Despite explosive growth, the industry is still lacking a robust, cost-effective means of identifying (and correcting) flaws generated during the build process.  My talk describes some sources of AM flaws, and outlines our efforts to sense and identify them.

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.

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