News - 2020

12/17/2020

Fibrous proteins such as collagen and fibrinogen form a thin solid layer on the surface of an aqueous solution similar to the “skin” that forms on warm milk, according to a team of Penn State Researchers, who believe this finding could lead to more efficient bioprinting and tissue engineering.

In the human body, fibrous proteins provide structural support for cells and tissues and aid in biomechanics. Collagen makes up 80 percent of our skin and 10 percent of our muscles, while fibrinogen helps in blood clotting by forming the hydrogel fibrin.

12/11/2020

A stretchable system that can harvest energy from human breathing and motion for use in wearable health-monitoring devices may be possible, according to an international team of researchers, led by Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Professor in Penn State's Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

12/07/2020

The Center for Atomically Thin Multifunctional Coatings (ATOMIC), a center focused on the study and development of 2D materials that is part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) project, is preparing to move from Phase I to Phase II of the program.

12/04/2020

The Materials Research Institute (MRI) has announced the three winners of the 2020 Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award.

11/19/2020

A new method of bioprinting uses aspiration of tiny biologics such as spheroids, cells and tissue strands, to precisely place them in 3D patterns either on scaffolding or without to create artificial tissues with natural properties, according to Penn State researchers.

11/18/2020

By Jamie Oberdick

A multi-institutional research group led by two Penn State faculty members has identified, for the first time, how cellulose crystals orient themselves relative to the cell wall in plants, with potential implications for chemical and energy development.  

11/06/2020

By Gabrielle Stewart

Computers can perform operations much faster than the human brain and store more information. Despite these disadvantages, the human brain is a more efficient computer than the most sophisticated supercomputers — by a factor of a million, according to Saptarshi Das, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State.

11/02/2020

By Jennifer Matthews

A single-step, plasma-enhanced catalytic process to convert sulfur dioxide to pure sulfur from tail gas streams may provide a promising, more environmentally-friendly alternative to current multistage thermal, catalytic and absorptive processes, according to scientists at Penn State.

10/29/2020

By  Walt Mills

As progress in traditional computing slows, new forms of computing are coming to the forefront. At Penn State, a team of engineers is attempting to pioneer a type of computing that mimics the efficiency of the brain’s neural networks while exploiting the brain’s analog nature.

Modern computing is digital, made up of two states, on-off or one and zero. An analog computer, like the brain, has many possible states. It is the difference between flipping a light switch on or off and turning a dimmer switch to varying amounts of lighting.

10/19/2020

The eventual creation of replacement biological parts requires fully three-dimensional capabilities that two-dimensional and three-dimensional thin-film bioprinting cannot supply. Now, using a yield stress gel, Penn State engineers can place tiny aggregates of cells exactly where they want to build the complex shapes that will be necessary to replace bone, cartilage and other tissues.

10/15/2020

In the search for a reliable, quick-charging, cold-weather battery for automobiles, a self-assembling, thin layer of electrochemically active molecules may be the solution, according to a team of researchers.

10/15/2020

The power of the sun, wind and sea may soon combine to produce clean-burning hydrogen fuel, according to a team of Penn State researchers. The team integrated water purification technology into a new proof-of-concept design for a sea water electrolyzer, which uses an electric current to split apart the hydrogen and oxygen in water molecules.

This new method for “sea water splitting” could make it easier to turn wind and solar energy into a storable and portable fuel, according to Bruce Logan, Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering and Evan Pugh University Professor.

10/14/2020

A rapid and simple method for testing the efficacy of antibacterial drugs on infectious microbes has been developed and validated by a team of Penn State researchers.

Antimicrobial resistant infection is one of the major threats to human health globally, causing 2.5 million infections and 35,000 deaths annually, with the potential to grow to 10 million deaths annually by 2050 without improved techniques for detection and treatment.

09/23/2020

By Walt Mills

The Center for Nanoscale Science, a National Science Foundation Materials Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), has again successfully renewed its NSF support in the highly competitive MRSEC program. The new iteration of the center encompasses two of NSF’s Big Ideas — "Quantum Leap" and "Harnessing the Data Revolution."

09/23/2020

Solar cells have come a long way, but inexpensive, thin film solar cells are still far behind more expensive, crystalline solar cells in efficiency. Now, a team of researchers suggests that using two thin films of different materials may be the way to go to create affordable, thin film cells with about 34% efficiency.

"Ten years ago I knew very little about solar cells, but it became clear to me they were very important," said Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Evan Pugh University Professor and Charles Godfrey Binder Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics, Penn State. 

09/18/2020

By Walt Mills

A new type of imaging that does not require a lens and uses reconfigurable particle-based masks to take multiple shots of an object is being developed by researchers at Penn State. The electric-field directed self-assembling mask technology is expected to have uses in lower-cost and faster disease diagnosis, the enhancement of optical microscopy and may even lead to thinner cell phone technology.

 How it works

09/11/2020

Wearable and implantable devices are currently used for a variety of functions, including health tracking and monitoring. However, supplying energy usually requires cumbersome batteries and downtime due to recharging.

09/01/2020

By Walt Mills

In a sensing phenomenon common in the animal world but unusual in manmade sensors, Penn State researchers have added a small amount of background noise to enhance very weak signals, in this case a light source too dim to sense.

08/31/2020

A stretchable, wearable gas sensor for environmental sensing has been developed and tested by researchers at Penn State, Northeastern University and five universities in China.

08/25/2020

Plagues of locusts, containing millions of insects, fly across the sky to attack crops, but the individual insects do not collide with each other within these massive swarms. Now a team of engineers is creating a low-power collision detector that mimics the locust avoidance response and could help robots, drones and even self-driving cars avoid collisions.

08/21/2020

The Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has awarded a combined total of $51.1 million to two university research alliances to counter threats of destruction, with a specific focus on improving current and developing future warfighter technology.

08/10/2020

By Walt Mills

A supersensitive dopamine detector can help in the early diagnosis of several disorders that result in too much or too little dopamine, according to a group led by Penn State and including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and universities in China and Japan.

Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that can be used to diagnose disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

07/31/2020

Application deadline extended to August 30 - Rustom & Della Roy Award

07/29/2020

By Walt Mills

The goal of room temperature superconductivity took a small step forward with a recent discovery by a team of Penn State physicists and materials scientists.

07/15/2020

The Department of Energy has awarded an Energy Frontier Research Center Award to Penn State, one of 10 awards announced in 2020, and the second EFRC awarded to Penn State researchers.

The topic of this large center grant is 3D ferroelectric microelectronics, according to principal investigator Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Evan Pugh University Professor and the Steward S. Flaschen Professor of Ceramic Science and Engineering, and Professor of Electrical Engineering.

07/03/2020

By Walt Mills

Layered van der Waals materials are of high interest for electronic and photonic applications, according to researchers at Penn State and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, in California, who provide new insights into the interactions of layered materials with laser and electron beams.

Two-dimensional van der Waals materials are composed of strongly bonded layers of molecules with weak bonding between the layers.

06/29/2020

A new fundamental understanding of the behavior of polymeric relaxor ferroelectrics could lead to advances in flexible electronics, actuators and transducers, energy storage, piezoelectric sensors and electrocaloric cooling, according to a team of researchers at Penn State and North Carolina State.

06/22/2020

A device to monitor health conditions in the body using a person’s sweat has been developed by researchers at Penn State and Xiangtan University, according to Huanyu (Larry) Cheng, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, Penn State.

“We want to be able to analyze the sweat from daily exercise or from the heat of the sun because in sweat we have a lot of biomarkers, like pH and glucose that will be a really nice indicator for disease progression or diagnostics,” Cheng said.

06/09/2020

Focus on Materials Spring 2020 Issue

06/03/2020

Penn State’s Center for Nanoscale Science releases a new website full of family-friendly, at-home science experiments

With families stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, the need for quality online resources to help fill the time has skyrocketed. But don’t fret — Penn State’s Center for Nanoscale Science has just launched Mission: Materials Science.

06/01/2020

A personal, handheld device emitting high intensity ultraviolet light to disinfect areas by killing the Corona virus is now feasible, according to researchers at Penn State, the University of Minnesota and two Japanese universities.

05/21/2020

The next generation of solar cells, made from flexible, wearable material, may soon charge our devices on the go, or provide critical electricity when other power sources are not available, like during a natural disaster.

An international team of scientists from Penn State and the University of Queensland, Australia, are developing new technology to help make these next-generation solar devices a reality.

05/19/2020

A new way of creating carbon fibers — which are typically expensive to make — could one day lead to using these lightweight, high-strength materials to improve safety and reduce the cost of producing cars, according to a team of researchers. Using a mix of computer simulations and laboratory experiments, the team found that adding small amounts of the 2D graphene to the production process both reduces the production cost and strengthens the fibers.

05/14/2020

A new supercapacitor based on manganese oxide could combine the storage capacity of batteries with the high power and fast charging of other supercapacitors, according to researchers at Penn State and two universities in China.

“Manganese oxide is definitely a promising material,” said Huanyu (Larry) Cheng, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics and faculty member in the Materials Research Institute, Penn State. “By combining with cobalt manganese oxide, it forms a heterostructure in which we are able to tune the interfacial properties.”

04/24/2020

Penn State biomedical engineer is researching an inhalable alternative to needle vaccines

Researchers are proposing a possible COVID-19 vaccine that could be good news for resisting current and future pandemics, as well as for the needle-phobic: inhalable vaccines.

04/22/2020

A new method to deliver proteins for therapy inside the body has been developed by a team of researchers at Penn State. This platform, which packages proteins within an acoustically sensitive nanoparticle carrier, uses ultrasound to image and guide the encapsulated protein to the exact location required, and then disrupt the shell allowing the protein to enter the cell.

04/09/2020

A point-of-care testing device that may help diagnose the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is under development by Weihua Guan, assistant professor of electrical engineering in Penn State’s College of Engineering.

03/23/2020

Penn State engineers say computational power is key to technology for smart bandages, health tattoos and artificial organs.

Bulky, buzzing and beeping hospital rooms demonstrate that monitoring a patient’s health status is an invasive and uncomfortable process, at best, and a dangerous process, at worst. Penn State researchers want to change that and make biosensors that could make health monitoring less bulky, more accurate — and much safer.

03/09/2020

By Walt Mills

A new, atomically-thin materials platform developed by Penn State researchers in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Oak Ridge National Lab will open a wide range of new applications in biomolecular sensing, quantum phenomena, catalysis and nonlinear optics.

03/03/2020

By Walt Mills

A lithium-ion battery that is safe, has high power and can last for 1 million miles has been developed by a team in Penn State’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Center.

02/26/2020

By Walt Mills

Researchers at Penn State and Purdue University have developed new materials for improved single-atom catalysis and future electronics.

02/13/2020

By Walt Mills

A method to observe a new class of topological materials, called Weyl semimetals, was developed by researchers at Penn State, MIT, Tohoku University, Japan and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. The material’s unusual electronic properties could be useful in future electronics and in quantum physics.

02/12/2020

Joint strategic partnership with University of Freiburg to design sustainable materials using biological and bioinspired principles.

To broaden applications of living materials, expand Penn State’s leadership in the engineering sciences on the international stage and grow partnerships with researchers and students around the world, Zoubeida Ounaies, professor and associate head for administration in the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been named the inaugural director of the Penn State Convergence Center for Living Multifunctional Material Systems.

02/12/2020

Seamlessly correcting defects in the face, mouth and skull is highly challenging because it requires precise stacking of a variety of tissues including bone, muscle, fat and skin. Now, Penn State researchers are investigating methods to 3D bioprint and grow the appropriate tissues for craniomaxillofacial reconstruction.

01/29/2020

An interdisciplinary team led by Penn State has received a five-year $3.7 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation’s new program on convergence research. The grant is in two phases, depending on successful completion of phase one milestones.

Convergence brings together disciplines that have not worked together before to solve problems of high complexity with societal impact. Penn State is one of 11universites to receive a convergence grant.

01/28/2020

Using straightforward chemistry and a mix-and-match, modular strategy, researchers have developed a simple approach that could produce over 65,000 different types of complex nanoparticles, each containing up to six different materials and eight segments, with interfaces that could be exploited in electrical or optical applications. These rod-shaped nanoparticles are about 55 nanometers long and 20 nanometers wide — by comparison a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers thick — and many are considered to be among the most complex ever made.

01/20/2020

Use of an AC rather than a DC electric field can improve the piezoelectric response of a crystal. Now, an international team of researchers say that cycles of AC fields also make the internal crystal domains in some materials bigger and the crystal transparent.

01/16/2020

By Walt Mills

A highly sensitive wearable gas sensor for environmental and human health monitoring may soon become commercially available, according to researchers at Penn State and Northeastern University.

01/08/2020

By Walt Mills

Lithium ion batteries often grow needle-like structures between electrodes that can short out the batteries and sometimes cause fires.  Now, an international team of researchers has found a way to grow and observe these structures to understand ways to stop or prevent their appearance.

01/03/2020

A 2017 report of the discovery of a particular kind of Majorana fermion — the chiral Majorana fermion, referred to as the “angel particle” — is likely a false alarm, according to new research. Majorana fermions are enigmatic particles that act as their own antiparticle and were first hypothesized to exist in 1937. They are of immense interest to physicists because their unique properties could allow them to be used in the construction of a topological quantum computer.

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