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Engineering

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  • Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

    Specially tailored, ultrafast pulses of light can trigger neurons to fire and could one day help patients with light-sensitive circadian or mood problems, according to a new study in mice at the University of Illinois.

  • Shape-shifting agent targets harmful bacteria in the stomach

    A new shape-shifting polymer can target and kill Helicobacter pylori bacteria in the stomach without killing helpful bacteria in the gut.

  • Researchers put new spin on old technique to engineer better absorptive materials

    A team of University of Illinois bioengineers has taken a new look at an old tool to help characterize a class of materials called metal organic frameworks – MOFs for short. MOFs are used to detect, purify and store gases, and could help solve some of the worlds most challenging energy, environmental and pharmaceutical challenges – they can even pull water molecules straight from the air to provide relief from droughts.

  • Stem cells from muscle could address diabetes-related circulation problems

    Stem cells taken from muscle tissue could promote better blood flow in patients with diabetes who develop peripheral artery disease, a painful complication that can require surgery or lead to amputation.

  • Electrostatic force takes charge in bioinspired polymers

    Researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst have taken the first steps toward gaining control over the self-assembly of synthetic materials in the same way that biology forms natural polymers. This advance could prove useful in designing new bioinspired, smart materials for applications ranging from drug delivery to sensing to remediation of environmental contaminants.

  • Researchers look to patterns to envision new engineering field

    The phenomenon that forms interference patterns on television displays when a camera focuses on a pattern like a person wearing stripes has inspired a new way to conceptualize electronic devices. Researchers at the University of Illinois are showing how the atomic-scale version of this phenomenon may hold the secrets to help advance electronics design to the limits of size and speed. 

  • Stemlike cells at tumor perimeter promote new blood vessels to feed tumor growth

    Stemlike cells at the edge of melanoma tumors secrete factors to promote blood-vessel growth, allowing the cancer to grow and spread.

  • Illinois scientist named Packard Fellow

    Pinshane Huang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is among 18 early career researchers to receive 2017 Packard Fellowships from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

  • Mantis shrimp-inspired camera enables glimpse into hidden world

    By mimicking the eye of the mantis shrimp, Illinois researchers have developed an ultra-sensitive camera capable of sensing both color and polarization. The bioinspired imager can potentially improve early cancer detection and help provide a new understanding of underwater phenomena, the researchers said.

  • Researchers make headway in desalination technology

    Engineers at the University of Illinois have taken a step forward in developing a saltwater desalination process that is potentially cheaper than reverse osmosis and borrows from battery technology. In their study, the researchers are focusing on new materials that could make desalination of brackish waters economically desirable and energy efficient.

  • New methods tackle a perplexing engineering concept

    Researchers at the University of Illinois are working to turn a complex materials design problem into an intuitive concept, understandable to engineers from novice to advanced experience levels. The group developed guidelines to help understand materials engineered to become thicker when stretched. This highly useful property, which is not commonly found in nature, has applications for protective sports equipment, body armor and biomedical devices.

  • Tiny aquariums put nanoparticle self-assembly on display

    Seeing is believing when it comes to nanoparticle self-assembly. A team of University of Illinois engineers is observing the interactions of colloidal gold nanoparticles inside tiny aquariumlike sample containers to gain more control over the self-assembly process of engineered materials.

  • Large, crystalline lipid scaffolds bring new possibilities to protein, drug research

    Proteins and drugs are often attached to lipids to promote crystallization or ensure delivery to targeted tissues within the body, but only the smallest proteins and molecules fit within these fat structures. A new study reveals a lipid structure that can support much larger proteins and molecules than before, potentially increasing the variety of drugs that can be attached to these fat molecules.

  • Click beetles inspire design of self-righting robots

    Robots perform many tasks that humans can’t or don’t want to perform, getting around on intricately designed wheels and limbs. If they tip over, however, they are rendered almost useless. A team of University of Illinois mechanical engineers and entomologists are looking to click beetles, who can right themselves without the use of their legs, to solve this robotics challenge.

  • Changes in nonextreme precipitation may have not-so-subtle consequences

    Major floods and droughts receive a lot of attention in the context of climate change, but University of Illinois researchers analyzed over five decades of precipitation data from North America to find that changes in nonextreme precipitation are more significant than previously realized and larger than those in extreme precipitation. These changes can have a strong effect on ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure design and resource management, and point to a need to examine precipitation in a more nuanced, multifaceted way.

  • Congressional redistricting less contentious when resolved using computer algorithm

    Concerns that the process of U.S. congressional redistricting may be politically biased have fueled many debates, but a team of University of Illinois computer scientists and engineers has developed a new computer algorithm that may make the task easier for state legislatures and fairer for their constituents.

  • Study: Biomarkers as predictive of sepsis as lengthy patient monitoring

    One measurement of key biomarkers in blood that characterize sepsis can give physicians as much information as hours of monitoring symptoms, a new study found.

  • Researchers develop dynamic templates critical to printable electronics technology

    When it comes to efficiency, sometimes it helps to look to Mother Nature for advice – even in technology as advanced as printable, flexible electronics.

    Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed bio-inspired dynamic templates used to manufacture organic semiconductor materials that produce printable electronics. It uses a process similar to biomineralization – the way that bones and teeth form. This technique is also eco-friendly compared with how conventional electronics are made, which gives the researchers the chance to return the favor to nature.  

  • Engineers find way to evaluate green roofs

    Green infrastructure is an attractive concept, but there is concern surrounding its effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using a mathematical technique traditionally used in earthquake engineering to determine how well green infrastructure works and to communicate with urban planners, policymakers and developers.

  • Quick test finds signs of sepsis in a single drop of blood

    A new portable device can quickly find markers of deadly, unpredictable sepsis infection from a single drop of blood.

  • Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds

    Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.

  • Increased number of female engineers in managerial roles brings unintended consequences

    Increased female representation in the managerial ranks of engineering organizations may add another layer of sex segregation on top of the one it’s intended to mitigate, says a new paper from U. of I. labor professor M. Teresa Cardador.

  • Metal-ion catalysts and hydrogen peroxide could green up plastics production

    Researchers at the University of Illinois are contributing to the development of more environmentally friendly catalysts for the production of plastic and resin precursors that are often derived from fossil fuels. The key to their technique comes from recognizing the unique physical and chemical properties of certain metals and how they react with hydrogen peroxide.

  • Chemical array draws out malignant cells to guide individualized cancer treatment

    Melanoma is a particularly difficult cancer to treat once it has metastasized, spreading throughout the body. University of Illinois researchers are using chemistry to find the deadly, elusive malignant cells within a melanoma tumor that hold the potential to spread.

  • Study: Higher mass transit use associated with lower obesity rates

    Healthy mass transit systems could contribute to healthier communities, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers that determined higher mass transit use was correlated with lower obesity rates in counties across the United States.

  • Self-healing tech charges up performance for silicon-containing battery anodes

    Researchers at the University of Illinois have found a way to apply self-healing technology to lithium-ion batteries to make them more reliable and last longer.

  • Electroplating delivers high-energy, high-power batteries

    The process that makes gold-plated jewelry or chrome car accents is now making powerful lithium-ion batteries.

  • Researchers develop transistors that can switch between two stable energy states

    Engineers are unveiling an upgrade to the transistor laser that could be used to boost computer processor speeds – the formation of two stable energy states and the ability to switch between them quickly. 

  • A little support from their online friends calms test-anxious students

    Reading supportive comments, “likes” and private messages from social media friends prior to taking a test may help college students who have high levels of test-anxiety reduce their nervousness by 21 percent and improve their scores, researchers at the University of Illinois found.

  • Engineers shine light on deadly landslide

    A new report by University of Illinois civil and environmental engineering professor Tim Stark and colleagues details the factors that led to the deadliest landslide on record in the continental United States, along with steps that can be taken to mitigate landslide consequences and risk in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Science at Illinois feeds the world, furthers health, protects the planet

    Illinois scientists are helping power plants run more efficiently, designing better, longer-lasting batteries, finding new ways to target cancerous tumors, and developing robots that can aid in construction, in agricultural fields and even inside the human body.

  • Nanopores could map small changes in DNA that signal big shifts in cancer

    Detecting cancer early, just as changes are beginning in DNA, could enhance diagnosis and treatment as well as further our understanding of the disease. A new study by University of Illinois researchers describes a method to detect, count and map tiny additions to DNA called methylations, which can be a warning sign of cancer, with unprecedented resolution.

  • CRISPR mines bacterial genome for hidden pharmaceutical treasure

    In the fight against disease, many weapons in the medicinal arsenal have been plundered from bacteria themselves. Using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, researchers have now uncovered even more potential treasure hidden in silent genes.

  • Hand-picked specialty crops ‘ripe’ for precision agriculture techniques

    Using precision agriculture, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed an algorithm to help producers of hand-picked crops such as strawberries determine the optimal time to transport their highly perishable crop from the field to cold storage.

  • Tumor-targeting system uses cancer’s own mechanisms to betray its location

    By hijacking a cancer cell’s own metabolism, researchers have found a way to tag and target elusive cancers with small-molecule sugars. This opens treatment pathways for cancers that are not responsive to conventional targeted antibodies, such as triple-negative breast cancer.

  • Dual-function nanorod LEDs could make multifunctional displays

    Cellphones and other devices could soon be controlled with touchless gestures and charge themselves using ambient light, thanks to new LED arrays that can both emit and detect light.

  • Illinois technician combines engineering and creativity in a DIY synthesizer

    Skot Wiedmann, an electronics technician and art instructor at the University of Illinois, built his Hyve Touch Synthesizer to inspire interdisciplinary work between engineers and musicians, and to allow people to explore music in a creative and fun way.

  • Tiny exports signal big shifts in cancer tissue, researchers find

    Microscopic shifts in metabolism and increases in tiny transport vesicles out of tumor cells preface larger changes to the tumor environment and could prepare the way for cancerous cells to spread and metastasize, University of Illinois researchers report.

  • Eight Illinois researchers rank among world’s most influential

    Eight University of Illinois researchers have been named to the Thomson Reuters / Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list for 2016. The list identifies scientists “whose research has had significant global impact within their respective fields of study."

  • Is Academia Waking Up to the Problem of Sexual Harassment?

    U. of I. anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy supports a federal legislative effort that would require universities to report – and federal funding agencies to consider – findings that any university professor engaged in discrimination on the basis of sex. 

  • Structural, regulatory and human error were factors in Washington highway bridge collapse

    When an important bridge collapsed on Interstate 5 near Mount Vernon, Washington, in 2013, questions were raised about how such a catastrophic failure could occur. A new analysis by a team of civil engineering faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign outlines the many factors that led to the collapse, as well as steps that transportation departments can take to prevent such accidents on other bridges of similar design.

  • Force triggers gene expression by stretching chromatin

    A new study by University of Illinois researchers and collaborators in China has demonstrated that external mechanical force can directly regulate gene expression.

  • Genome-editing proteins ride a DNA zip line

    For gene-editing proteins to be useful in clinical applications, they need to be able to find the specific site they’re supposed to edit among billions of DNA sequences. Using advanced imaging techniques, University of Illinois researchers have found that one class of genome-editing proteins rapidly travels along a strand of DNA like a rider on a zip line – a unique behavior among documented DNA-binding proteins.

  • What are the challenges of providing services for children with mental illnesses?

    Wynne Korr, dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, discusses the challenges of diagnosing and providing treatment for this vulnerable population in light of the state's financial problems

  • Method opens a window on how stress and strain affect battery performance

    Batteries that charge faster and have greater capacity could boost portable electronic devices and electric cars. A new method to simultaneously test stress and strain in battery electrodes gives researchers a window into the mechanical, electrical and chemical forces within lithium-ion batteries. The method revealed an unexpected point of stress in the charging cycle, which could guide development of better batteries.

  • Chemical etching method helps transistors stand tall

    University of Illinois researchers have developed a way to etch very tall, narrow finFETs, a type of transistor that forms a tall semiconductor “fin” for the current to travel over.

  • Measure of age in soil nitrogen could help precision agriculture

    University of Illinois engineers developed a model to calculate the age of nitrogen in corn and soybean fields, which could lead to improved fertilizer application techniques to promote crop growth while reducing leaching.

  • Reclaimed water could help power plants run more efficiently, study finds

    The water going down the drain could help keep the lights on, according to a new study showing that reclaimed water – municipal wastewater that has been treated or cleaned – could be more efficient for cooling power plants than water taken from the local environment.

  • Shape of tumor may affect whether cells can metastasize

    Only a few cells in a cancerous tumor are able to break away and spread to other parts of the body, but the curve along the edge of the tumor may play a large role in activating these tumor-seeding cells, according to a new University of Illinois study.

  • Record-speed data transmission could make big data more accessible

    With record-breaking speeds for fiber-optic data transmission, University of Illinois engineers have paved a fast lane on the information superhighway – creating on-ramps for big data in the process.