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Our Research

New & Emerging Materials Research Fields

A SLIPS coating on a glass substrate
Bio-inspired Engineering

The bio-inspired invention, called slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces, or SLIPS

High-res Image from the TEM
In Situ Characterization

Flurry of innovations in new components that can be placed inside the TEM

Colorized SEM image of graphene
2D Materials and Coatings

One atom-thick substrate of graphene with pristine interfaces between the two layers

Materials for Humanity
Humanitarian Materials Engineering

Socially responsible engineering in the developing regions of the world

Complex metal parts made by additive manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing

"When it comes to U.S. manufacturing, we've lost our swagger, but additive manufacturing will get it back."

Electrocaloric Materials Thermally Functional Materials
Thermally Functional Materials

Electrocaloric effect (ECE) based cooling technology

Research Highlights

Transparent metal filmsTransparent Metal Films for Smartphone, Tablet and TV Displays

A new material that is both highly transparent and electrically conductive could make large screen displays, smart windows and even touch screens and solar cells more affordable and efficient, according to materials scientists and engineers at Penn State who have discovered just such a material.

Featured in Nature Materials

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"Color" of electrons in grapheneA Device to Control “Color” of Electrons in Graphene Provides Path to Future Electronics

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.

Featured in Nature Nanotechnology

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Ultra-sensative sensor using N-doped graphene Ultrasensitive Sensor Using N-doped Graphene

A highly sensitive chemical sensor based on Raman spectroscopy and using nitrogen-doped graphene as a substrate was developed by an international team of researchers working at Penn State. In this case, doping refers to introducing nitrogen atoms into the carbon structure of graphene.

Featured in Science Advances

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"Ideal" energy storage material"Ideal" Energy Storage Material for Electric Vehicles Developed

The 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.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

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Help stop malaria transmissionCracking the Code of the Malaria Parasite May Help Stop Transmission

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.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

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3D printing of patterned membranes3D Printing of Patterned Membranes Opens Door to Rapid Advances in Membrane Technology

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

Featured in ACSS Applied Materials and Interfaces

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2D semiconductor with extraordinary propertiesGraphene Key to Growing Two-Dimensional Semiconductor with Extraordinary Properties

Anewly 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.

Featured in Nature Materials

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Subatomic microscopy and simulationSubatomic Microscopy Key to Building New Classes of Materials

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. The ability to see at this subatomic level is crucial in designing new materials with unprecedented properties, such as materials that transition from metals to semiconductors or that exhibit superconductivity.

Featured in Nature Communications

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Single molecule detection of contaminants and moreSingle Molecule of Detection of Contaminants, Explosives or Disease Now Possible

A technique to combine 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.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA

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Inexpensive, flexible solar cellsChemical Engineers' Research May Lead to Inexpensive, Flexible Solar Cells

Organic solar cells are potentially less expensive and certainly more flexible than the inorganic solar cells made of crystallinesilicon. Although there are several organic solar cells on the market in niche applications, the majority employ fullerene acceptors that are difficult to scale up.

Featured in Nano Letters

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Focusing light beams with tiny bubblesFocusing Light Beams with Tiny Bubbles

Researchers at Penn State, with help from colleagues at Northeastern and MIT, have made lenses out of water bubbles that can focus beams of light on an electronic chip, paving the way for improvements in on-chip biomedical devices and super resolution imaging.

Featured in Nature Communications

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Broadband metamaterialsGenetic Approach Helps Design Broadband Metamaterial

Researchers at Penn State are developing genetics-based algorithms to design manmade (meta) materials for a variety of optical and broadband devices.

Featured in ACS Nano

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Super-stretchable graphene yarnSuper-Stretchable Yarn is Made of Graphene

Researchers at Penn State and Shinshu University in Japan have developed a simple, scalable method of making graphene oxide (GO) fibers that are strong, stretchable and can be easily scrolled into yarns with strengths approaching that of Kevlar.

Featured in ACS Nano

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Uniform drug release vehicleMicroencapsulation Produces Uniform Drug Release Vehicle

A new method of delivering anticancer drugs directly to tumors of the brain is being developed by researchers in biomedical and chemical engineering. By encapsulating the drug BCNU in FDA-approved biodegradable polymer microspheres, the drugs can be safely injected into the tumor where they can be controllably released over time. The encapsulation of the drug avoids the side effects from intravenous chemotherapy, which can affect the whole body.

Featured in Advanced Materials

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A porous siliconPorous Silicon Developed for Solar Hydrogen Generator

team of Penn State mechanical engineers led by Donghai Wang has reported a new method for making porous silicon with nanoscale pores. Because of the reactivity of silicon to sunlight and the large surface area created by the pores, the material can act as a strong catalyst to break the molecular bonds of water when exposed to sunlight.

Featured in Nature Communications

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Synthetic polymersSynthetic Polymers Enable Cheap, Efficient, Durable Alkaline Fuel Cells

Current proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) require expensive catalysts, such as platinum, combined with perfluorinated membranes and corrosion-resistant cell hardware, all of which drive up the cost. Michael Hickner’s (associate professor of materials science and engineering) membrane was  developed to be used in an alkaline fuel cell, which can operate with non-noble metals or inexpensive metal oxides as catalysts, greatly reducing the cost of the devices.

Featured in Journal of the American Chemical Society

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Filters that screens out cancer cellsTiny Filter Screens Out Cancer Cells

Called a flexible micro spring array, the device is highly porous, flexible, and requires low driving pressure to push the blood through the mesh of tiny s-shaped filters.

Featured in IEEE EMB Conference

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Penn State's wacky oxideStrongly Interacting Electrons in Wacky Oxide Synchronize to Compute Like the Brain

A device created by electrical engineers at Penn State uses a thin film of VO2 on a titanium dioxide substrate to create an oscillating switch. Ph.D. student Nikhil Shukla added a second similar oscillating system and discovered that over time the two devices began to oscillate in unison. This coupled system could provide the basis for non-Boolean computing similar to the way the brain functions.

Featured in Nature Publishing Group's Scientific Reports

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