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Engineering

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  • Laser light show machine teaches students math, computer programming

    Laser light shows are no longer just the stage dressing for rock concerts. They’re also a fun way for local middle school students to learn the fundamentals of mathematics from educators and scientists at the University of Illinois.

  • Let's do the twist: Spiral proteins are efficient gene delivery agents

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Clinical gene therapy may be one step closer, thanks to a new twist on an old class of molecules.

  • Light helps the transistor laser switch faster

    Light and electrons interact in a complex dance within fiber optic devices. A new study by University of Illinois engineers found that in the transistor laser, a device for next-generation high-speed computing, the light and electrons spur one another on to faster switching speeds than any devices available.

  • Light illuminates the way for bio-bots

    A new class of miniature biological robots, or bio-bots, has seen the light – and is following where the light shines.

  • Making the invisible visible: Color-changing indicators highlight microscopic damage

    Damage developing in a material can be difficult to see until something breaks or fails. A new polymer damage indication system automatically highlights areas that are cracked, scratched or stressed, allowing engineers to address problem areas before they become more problematic.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Memory advance would extend mobile-device battery life

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Technophiles who have been dreaming of mobile devices that run longer on lighter, slimmer batteries may soon find their wish has been granted.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Microscope probe-sharpening technique improves resolution, durability

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A simple new improvement to an essential microscope component could greatly improve imaging for researchers who study the very small, from cells to computer chips.

  • Microtubes create cozy space for neurons to grow, and grow fast

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tiny, thin microtubes could provide a scaffold for neuron cultures to grow so that researchers can study neural networks, their growth and repair, yielding insights into treatment for degenerative neurological conditions or restoring nerve connections after injury.

  • Mission possible: This device will self-destruct when heated

    Where do electronics go when they die? Most devices are laid to eternal rest in landfills. But what if they just dissolved away, or broke down to their molecular components so that the material could be recycled?

  • Model developed to track eggs of Asian carp, an invasive species

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Asian carp are knocking on the door of the Great Lakes, but managers now can better pinpoint strategies to control their rapidly increasing population, according to a new model for tracking carp eggs developed by researchers at the University of Illinois and the United States Geological Survey.

  • Muscle-powered bio-bots walk on command

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A new generation of miniature biological robots is flexing its muscle.

  • Nanofibers clean sulfur from fuel

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Sulfur compounds in petroleum fuels have met their nano-structured match.

  • 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.

  • Nanopores could take the salt out of seawater

    University of Illinois engineers have found an energy-efficient material for removing salt from seawater that could provide a rebuttal to poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s lament, “Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink.”

  • Nanostructured metal coatings let the light through for electrical devices

    Light and electricity dance a complicated tango in devices like LEDs, solar cells and sensors. A new anti-reflection coating developed by engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, lets light through without hampering the flow of electricity, a step that could increase efficiency in such devices.

  • Nanotubes can solder themselves, markedly improving device performance

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois researchers have developed a way to heal gaps in wires too small for even the world's tiniest soldering iron.

  • Nanowires could be solution for high- performance solar cells

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tiny wires could help engineers realize high-performance solar cells and other electronics, according to University of Illinois researchers.

  • Nanowires grown on graphene have surprising structure

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - When a team of University of Illinois engineers set out to grow nanowires of a compound semiconductor on top of a sheet of graphene, they did not expect to discover a new paradigm of epitaxy.

  • New 3-D photonic crystals have both electronic and optical properties

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In an advance that could open new avenues for solar cells, lasers, metamaterials and more, researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated the first optoelectronically active 3-D photonic crystal.

  • New aircraft-scheduling models may ease air travel frustrations

    Flight schedules that allow for a little carefully designed wiggle room could prevent the frustration of cascading airport delays and cancellations. By focusing on the early phases of flight schedule planning and delays at various scales, researchers have developed models to help create schedules that are less susceptible to delays and easier to fix once disrupted.

  • New camera gives surgeons a butterfly’s-eye view of cancer

    Cancer lurking in tissue could be more easily found when looking through a butterfly’s eye.

  • New CRISPR technique skips over portions of genes that can cause disease

    In a new study in cells, University of Illinois researchers have adapted CRISPR gene-editing technology to cause the cell’s internal machinery to skip over a small portion of a gene when transcribing it into a template for protein building. This gives researchers a way not only to eliminate a mutated gene sequence, but to influence how the gene is expressed and regulated.

    Such targeted editing could one day be useful for treating genetic diseases caused by mutations in the genome, such as Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease or some cancers.

  • New CRISPR technology ‘knocks out’ yeast genes with single-point precision

    The CRISPR-Cas9 system has given researchers the power to precisely edit selected genes. Now, researchers have used it to develop a technology that can target any gene in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and turn it off by deleting single letters from its DNA sequence.

  • New, highly stable catalyst may help turn water into fuel

    Breaking the bonds between oxygen and hydrogen in water could be a key to the creation of hydrogen in a sustainable manner, but finding an economically viable technique for this has proved difficult. Researchers report a new hydrogen-generating catalyst that clears many of the obstacles – abundance, stability in acid conditions and efficiency.

  • New imaging method sheds light on cell growth

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois researchers are giving a light answer to the heavy question of cell growth.

  • New imaging technique reveals the atomic structure of nanocrystals

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A new imaging technique developed by researchers at the University of Illinois overcomes the limit of diffraction and can reveal the atomic structure of a single nanocrystal with a resolution of less than one angstrom (less than one hundred-millionth of a centimeter).

  • New life for EBICS project will create bio-machines to improve health

    By studying the behavior of living cells and combining them with synthetic tissue, researchers are creating “biological machines” to deliver drugs more effectively, function as internal diagnostic tools or serve as contaminant sensors in the field.

  • New look at cell membrane reveals surprising organization

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Sight would dramatically alter a blind man's understanding of an elephant, according to the old story. Now, a look directly at a cell surface is changing our understanding of cell membrane organization.

  • Newly developed cloak hides underwater objects from sonar

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In one University of Illinois lab, invisibility is a matter of now you hear it, now you don't.

  • New material could enhance fast and accurate DNA sequencing

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Gene-based personalized medicine has many possibilities for diagnosis and targeted therapy, but one big bottleneck: the expensive and time-consuming DNA-sequencing process.

  • New method helps map species' genetic heritage

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Where did the songbird get its song? What branch of the bird family tree is closer to the flamingo - the heron or the sparrow?

  • New method monitors semiconductor etching as it happens – with light

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois researchers have a new low-cost method to carve delicate features onto semiconductor wafers using light – and watch as it happens.

  • 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.

  • New plasma transistor could create sharper displays

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - By integrating a solid-state electron emitter and a microcavity plasma device, researchers at the University of Illinois have created a plasma transistor that could be used to make lighter, less expensive and higher resolution flat-panel displays.

  • New polymer coatings prevent corrosion, even when scratched

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Imagine tiny cracks in your patio table healing by themselves, or the first small scratch on your new car disappearing by itself. This and more may be possible with self-healing coatings being developed at the University of Illinois.

  • New polymer manufacturing process saves 10 orders of magnitude of energy

    Makers of cars, planes, buses – anything that needs strong, lightweight and heat resistant parts – are poised to benefit from a new manufacturing process that requires only a quick touch from a small heat source to send a cascading hardening wave through a polymer. Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new polymer-curing process that could reduce the cost, time and energy needed, compared with the current manufacturing process.

  • New sensors streamline detection of estrogenic compounds

    CHAMPAIGN, lll. - Researchers have engineered new sensors that fluoresce in the presence of compounds that interact with estrogen receptors in human cells. The sensors detect natural or human-made substances that alter estrogenic signaling in the body.

  • New silver-based ink has applications in printed electronics

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A new ink developed by researchers at the University of Illinois allows them to write their own silver linings.

  • New structures self-assemble in synchronized dance

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - With self-assembly guiding the steps and synchronization providing the rhythm, a new class of materials forms dynamic, moving structures in an intricate dance.

  • New synthetic tumor environments make cancer research more realistic

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Tumors are notoriously difficult to study in their natural habitat – body tissues – but a new synthetic tissue environment may give cancer researchers the next-best look at tumor growth and behavior.

  • New technique makes it easier to etch semiconductors

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Creating semiconductor structures for high-end optoelectronic devices just got easier, thanks to University of Illinois researchers.

  • New technique paints tissue samples with light

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - One infrared scan can give pathologists a window into the structures and molecules inside tissues and cells, enabling fast and broad diagnostic assessments, thanks to an imaging technique developed by University of Illinois researchers and clinical partners.

  • New technology looks into the eye and brings cells into focus

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Eye doctors soon could use computing power to help them see individual cells in the back of a patient’s eye, thanks to imaging technology developed by engineers at the University of Illinois. Such detailed pictures of the cells, blood vessels and nerves at the back of the eye could enable earlier diagnosis and better treatment for degenerative eye and neurological diseases.

  • New theory may shed light on dynamics of large-polymer liquids

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A new physics-based theory could give researchers a deeper understanding of the unusual, slow dynamics of liquids composed of large polymers. This advance provides a better picture of how polymer molecules respond under fast-flow, high-stress processing conditions for plastics and other polymeric materials.

  • New tissue-imaging technology could enable real-time diagnostics, map cancer progression

    A new microscope system can image living tissue in real time and in molecular detail, without any chemicals or dyes, report researchers at the University of Illinois.

  • Next up: Environmentally safe electronics that also vanish in the body

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Physicians and environmentalists alike could soon be using a new class of electronic devices: small, robust and high performance, yet also biocompatible and capable of dissolving completely in water - or in bodily fluids.