News - 2016

12/20/2016

A new concept in energy harvesting could capture energy that is currently mostly wasted due to its characteristic low frequency and use it to power next-generation electronic devices. In a project funded by electronics giant Samsung, a team of Penn State materials scientists and electrical engineers has designed a mechanical energy transducer based on flexible organic ionic diodes that points toward a new direction in scalable energy harvesting of unused mechanical energy in the environment, including wind, ocean waves and human motion.

12/02/2016

The 2016 Humanitarian Materials Engineering Awards were won by four teams of Penn State researchers. Each award provides $10,000 to continue promising work that will benefit society, with a special focus on resource-scarce regions of the world.

The Winners

Material Matters: A model for the design and construction of low-cost, high performance energy-efficient shelters in Burkina Faso, West Africa, by Vernelle Noel, Ph.D. candidate, School of Architecture, and Allen Kimel, assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

12/01/2016

Controlling the way fluorinated polymer chains twist and turn may enable fast and flexible electrical circuits, according to collaborative research conducted at Penn State. The findings may offer substantial impact on the development of new polymer-type materials used in flexible electronic applications.

11/30/2016

by Krista Weidner

Stroll through the serene garden at the entrance of the Millennium Science Complex on the University Park Campus, and it will give you no hint of what’s happening directly beneath your feet. Those shrubs and winding gravel pathways serve as the roof of the Materials Characterization Lab (MCL), where researchers collaborate to solve the wide range of materials-related problems that come their way from within the University and beyond.

11/29/2016

Five Penn state faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the organization announced.

11/08/2016

Xingjie Ni, the Charles H. Fetter Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, has been named a Moore Inventor Fellow by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. This is the first year for the Moore Inventor Fellowships program, which recognizes early-career innovators at U.S. universities with a high potential to accelerate progress in scientific research, environmental conservation and patient care.

10/28/2016

By creating atomic chains in a two-dimensional crystal, researchers at Penn State believe they have found a way to control the direction of materials properties in two and three dimensional crystals with implications in sensing, optoelectronics and next-generation electronics applications.

10/12/2016

Researchers at Penn State, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company have developed methods to control defects in two-dimensional materials, such as graphene, that may lead to improved membranes for water desalination, energy storage, sensing or advanced protective coatings. 

10/07/2016

A new tool that uses a forest-like array of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes that can be finely tuned to selectively trap viruses by their size can increase the detection threshold for viruses and speed the process of identifying newly-emerging viruses. The research, by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Penn State, is published in the October 7, 2016 edition of the journal Science Advances.

09/21/2016

A new, inexpensive method for detecting salt concentrations in sweat or other bodily fluids has been developed by Penn State biomaterials scientists. The fluorescent sensor, derived from citric acid molecules, is highly sensitive and highly selective for chloride, the key diagnostic marker in cystic fibrosis.

“Salt concentrations can be important for many health-related conditions,” said Jian Yang, professor of biomedical engineering. “Our method uses fluorescent molecules based on citrate, a natural molecule that is essential for bone health.”

09/20/2016

The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences' Ismaila Dabo uses computer simulations to help design and improve the materials that bring us power.

Originally from Paris, France, Ismaila Dabo has family roots in Guinea, a West African nation blessed with abundant sunshine to match the sunny optimism of its people. But despite these powerful sources of energy, there is a lack of electricity to power the country. 

08/31/2016

Researchers at Penn State and the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are pushing the limits of electron microscopy into the tens of picometer scale, a fraction of the size of a hydrogen atom.

08/29/2016

A device made of bilayer graphene, an atomically thin hexagonal arrangement of carbon atoms, provides experimental proof of the ability to control the momentum of electrons and offers a path to electronics that could require less energy and give off less heat than standard CMOS transistors. It is one step forward in a new field of physics called valleytronics.

08/29/2016

A newly discovered method for making two-dimensional materials could lead to new and extraordinary properties, particularly in a class of materials called nitrides, say the Penn State materials scientists who discovered the process. This first-ever growth of two-dimensional gallium nitride using graphene encapsulation could lead to applications in deep ultraviolet lasers, next-generation electronics and sensors.

08/22/2016

The energy-storage goal of a polymer dielectric material with high energy density, high power density and excellent charge-discharge efficiency for electric and hybrid vehicle use has been achieved by a team of Penn State materials scientists. The key is a unique three-dimensional sandwich-like structure that protects the dense electric field in the polymer/ceramic composite from dielectric breakdown. Their results are published today (8/22/16) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

08/19/2016

Both hobbyists' pottery and engineered high-performance ceramics are only useable after they are fired for hours at high temperatures, usually above 1000 °C. The sintering process that takes place causes the individual particles to "bake" together, making the material more compact and giving it the required properties, like mechanical strength.

07/25/2016

Someday, chemically protective suits made of fabric coated in self-healing, thin films may prevent farmers from exposure to organophosphate pesticides, soldiers from chemical or biological attacks in the field and factory workers from accidental releases of toxic materials, according to a team of researchers.

07/19/2016

(Or will these potentially life-saving technologies never make it out of the lab?)

Five years after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, more than 10 million bags of contaminated topsoil sit in radioactive pyramids scattered across the landscape. Contaminated water flows through the radioactive ground into the ocean or is captured and stored on the power plant site until some method of disposal can be figured out.

07/18/2016

In every decade for the past 30 years, the transmission electron microscope (TEM) has developed new topics that dominated the decade. In the 1990s, environmental electron microscopy allowed samples to be examined under more natural conditions. From 2000 to 2010, aberration correction brought samples into sharper focus, like a double pair of eyeglass lenses. In the current decade, looking at reactions taking place inside the TEM, in situ, is the major topic for microscopy.

07/12/2016

Today at the Penn State Conference Center Hotel during CARBON 2016—the World Conference on Carbon, Morgan Advanced Materials, a U.K.-based global leader in engineered carbon and ceramic materials, announced a precedent-setting industrial partnership with Penn State to establish a local research and development center in Innovation Park at Penn State. The Carbon Science Center of Excellence (COE) aims to drive global developments in the field of carbon research around Morgan’s core competencies, materials and application engineering.

06/28/2016

Strands of cow cartilage substitute for ink in a 3D bioprinting process that may one day create cartilage patches for worn out joints, according to a team of engineers.

"Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn out tissue or design patches," said Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. "Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for this."

06/02/2016

A new type of 3D printing will make it possible for the first time to rapidly prototype and test polymer membranes that are patterned for improved performance, according to Penn State researchers.

06/01/2016

One of the founding staff members of the Materials Research Institute, Jeff Shallenberger, returned to Penn State in April after 10 years in industry. Jeff has been appointed the leader of the Surface Analysis Group within the Materials Characterization Lab (MCL). The surface group at MCL includes new XPS and Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) instrumentation as well as Auger electron spectroscopy services. Jeff’s expertise involves surface sensitive spectroscopies, particularly x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

05/23/2016

Synthetic proteins based on those found in a variety of squid species' ring teeth may lead the way to self-healing polymers carefully constructed for specific toughness and stretchability that might have applications in textiles, cosmetics and medicine, according to Penn State researchers.

"We looked at what is common among squid teeth proteins for all species of squid we studied," said Abdon Pena-Francesch, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics. "We observed which properties changed dramatically for each set of proteins."

05/19/2016

Namiko Yamamoto, assistant professor of aerospace engineering at Penn State, was recently awarded $376,599 through the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology program for her research proposal titled “1D-Patterned Nanocomposites Structured Using Oscillating Magnetic Fields.”

05/17/2016

By Walt Mills

In Penn State’s newest and most advanced research building, a new program is taking shape that, if successful, will revolutionize the ways in which we interact with the human brain. Led by Srinivas Tadigadapa, an electrical engineer, and Steve Schiff, a neurosurgeon with a background in physics and control engineering, this ambitious project exemplifies the convergence of research fields that are typically separated by distinct disciplinary boundaries.

05/16/2016

Electronic materials have been a major stumbling block for the advance of flexible electronics because existing materials do not function well after breaking and healing. A new electronic material created by an international team, however, can heal all its functions automatically even after breaking multiple times. This material could improve the durability of wearable electronics.

05/13/2016

Published in the journal ADVANCED MATERIALS

"We have developed a new, high-pressure, plasma-free approach to creating large-area, thin-film semiconductors," said John Badding, professor of chemistry, physics, and materials science and engineering at Penn State and the leader of the research team. "By putting the process under high pressure, our new technique could make it less expensive and easier to create the large, flexible semiconductors that are used in flat-panel monitors and solar cells and are the second most commercially important semiconductors."

05/02/2016

A team of chemical engineers at Penn State has developed a beneficial biofilm with the ability to prevent the biofouling of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes.

The biofilm allows membranes to limit their own thickness via a quorum-sensing circuit, and ultimately to reduce the occurrence of biofouling in membrane-based water treatment systems by releasing chemicals that repel undesirable bacteria.

04/14/2016

The most dangerous malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is responsible for nearly half a million deaths annually across Africa and Southeast Asia. Of increasing concern, this parasite is now developing resistance to common antimalarial drugs. Gaining a better understanding of the parasite's development in the body is urgently required. Now, a multi-university team, which includes Penn State, has broken the code that may lead to new defenses against the deadly parasite.

03/24/2016

A method to rotate single particles, cells or organisms using acoustic waves in a microfluidic device will allow researchers to take three dimensional images with only a cell phone.

Acoustic waves can move and position biological specimens along the x, y and z axes, but for the first time researchers at Penn State have used them to gently and safely rotate samples, a crucial capability in single-cell analysis, drug discovery and organism studies.

02/25/2016

A new way to use the chemical reactions of certain enzymes to trigger self-powered mechanical movement has been developed by a team of researchers at Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh. A paper describing the team's research, titled "Convective flow reversal in self-powered enzyme micropumps," is published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

02/17/2016

Jeffrey Catchmark, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, is working to commercialize a patent-pending biofoam pad for wound and trauma care.

The material is bioabsorbable, soft and resilient, unique properties useful in treating wounds in surgical, military, veterinary and other settings.

02/03/2016

Penn State researcher Chunshan Song has a plan to address one of the most important issues facing the world today — reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb the negative impacts of climate change.

01/20/2016

A lithium-ion battery that self heats if the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit has multiple applications, but may have the most impact on relieving winter "range anxiety" for electric vehicle owners, according to a team of researchers from Penn State and EC Power, State College.

01/13/2016

A nature-inspired method to model the reflection of light from the skin of silvery fish and other organisms may be possible, according to Penn State researchers.

01/11/2016

A technique that combines the ultrasensitivity of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) with a slippery surface invented by Penn State researchers will make it feasible to detect single molecules of a number of chemical and biological species from gaseous, liquid or solid samples. This combination of slippery surface and laser-based spectroscopy will open new applications in analytical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, environmental monitoring and national security.

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