blog posts Simulation reveals how bacterial organelle converts sunlight to chemical energy Nov 14, 2019 11:00 am1732 views Scientists have simulated every atom of a light-harvesting structure in a photosynthetic bacterium that generates energy for the organism. The simulated organelle behaves just like its counterpart in nature, the researchers report. The work is a major step toward understanding how some biological structures convert sunlight into chemical energy, a biological innovation that is essential to life. Graphene: The more you bend it, the softer it gets Nov 13, 2019 8:00 am2510 views New research by engineers at the University of Illinois combines atomic-scale experimentation with computer modeling to determine how much energy it takes to bend multilayer graphene – a question that has eluded scientists since graphene was first isolated. The findings are reported in the journal Nature Materials. Artificial intelligence to run the chemical factories of the future Nov 13, 2019 7:30 am1312 views A new proof-of-concept study details how an automated system driven by artificial intelligence can design, build, test and learn complex biochemical pathways to efficiently produce lycopene, a red pigment found in tomatoes and commonly used as a food coloring, opening the door to a wide range of biosynthetic applications, researchers report. Will hiding 'like' counts and other numbers improve social media? Oct 31, 2019 8:00 am1518 views Social media companies are experimenting with hiding metrics on their platforms – something University of Illinois art professor Ben Grosser has been exploring since 2012 with his Demetricator projects. Human reflexes keep two-legged robot upright Oct 30, 2019 1:00 pm1334 views Imagine being trapped inside a collapsed building after a disaster, wondering if anybody will be brave enough to rescue you. Suddenly, a door bursts open, and standing in the shadows is a robot. But this is not just any robot; this one has quick, humanlike reflexes and is guided by a person from a remote location who feels the same physical forces the robot is experiencing. Crystallization clarified, researchers report Oct 28, 2019 11:00 am731 views Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University have made it possible to observe and simulate the self-assembly of crystalline materials at a much higher resolution than before. Study: Tradeoffs between commute time, safety Oct 22, 2019 11:45 am1436 views Urban commuters may be less likely to encounter automobile accidents if they are willing to increase trip time, researchers report. A new study from the University of Illinois introduces a tool that helps quantify the connection between traffic accidents and city road networks. Researchers repurpose failed cancer drug into printable semiconductor Oct 2, 2019 9:30 am1290 views Many potential pharmaceuticals end up failing during clinical trials, but thanks to new research from the University of Illinois, biological molecules once considered for cancer treatment are now being repurposed as organic semiconductors for use in chemical sensors and transistors. Researchers build microscopic biohybrid robots propelled by muscles, nerves Sep 16, 2019 2:00 pm5448 views Researchers have developed soft robotic devices driven by neuromuscular tissue that triggers when stimulated by light – bringing mechanical engineering one step closer to developing autonomous biobots. Five professors named University Scholars for Urbana-Champaign campus Sep 12, 2019 10:45 am3548 views Five Urbana-Champaign campus professors have been named University Scholars in recognition of their excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. Researchers unveil new volcanic eruption forecasting technique Sep 10, 2019 7:00 am1035 views Volcanic eruptions and their ash clouds pose a significant hazard to population centers and air travel, especially those that show few to no signs of unrest beforehand. Geologists are now using a technique traditionally used in weather and climate forecasting to develop new eruption forecasting models. By testing if the models are able to capture the likelihood of past eruptions, the researchers are making strides in the science of volcanic forecasting Researchers develop technique to de-ice surfaces in seconds Sep 3, 2019 12:00 pm1970 views Airplane wings, wind turbines and indoor heating systems all struggle under the weight and chill of ice. Defrosting and de-icing techniques are energy-intensive, however, and often require large masses of ice to melt completely in order to work. Researchers from the University of Illinois and Kyushu University in Japan have developed a new technique that requires only a thin layer of ice at the interface of a surface to melt, allowing it to slide off under the force of gravity. New technique gives polyurethane waste a second life Aug 26, 2019 4:00 am1176 views Polyurethane is used in a wide range of materials, including paints, foam mattresses, seat cushions and insulation. These diverse applications generate large amounts of waste. A team at the University of Illinois has developed a method to break down polyurethane waste and turn it into other useful products. Researchers turn off backscattering, aim to improve optical data transmission Aug 12, 2019 8:15 am1341 views Engineers at the University of Illinois have found a way to redirect misfit light waves to reduce energy loss during optical data transmission. In a study, researchers exploited an interaction between light and sound waves to suppress the scattering of light from material defects – which could lead to improved fiber optic communication. Their findings are published in the journal Optica. Printing flattens polymers, improving electrical and optical properties Aug 9, 2019 1:00 pm1113 views Researchers have found a way to use polymer printing to stretch and flatten twisted molecules so that they conduct electricity better. A team led by chemical and biomolecular engineers from the University of Illinois report their findings in the journal Science Advances. Researchers embrace imperfection to improve biomolecule transport Aug 5, 2019 10:00 am893 views While watching the production of porous membranes used for DNA sorting and sequencing, University of Illinois researchers wondered how tiny steplike defects formed during fabrication could be used to improve molecule transport. They found that the defects – formed by overlapping layers of membrane – make a big difference in how molecules move along a membrane surface. Instead of trying to fix these flaws, the team set out to use them to help direct molecules into the membrane pores. Artificial intelligence could help air travelers save a bundle Aug 1, 2019 8:00 am3187 views Researchers are using artificial intelligence to help airlines price ancillary services such as checked bags and seat reservations in a way that is beneficial to customers’ budget and privacy, as well as to the airline industry’s bottom line. Search for new semiconductors heats up with gallium oxide Jul 22, 2019 10:30 am1168 views University of Illinois electrical engineers have cleared another hurdle in high-power semiconductor fabrication by adding the field’s hottest material – beta-gallium oxide – to their arsenal. Beta-gallium oxide is readily available and promises to convert power faster and more efficiently than today’s leading semiconductor materials – gallium nitride and silicon, the researchers said. Human waste an asset to economy, environment, study finds Jul 8, 2019 8:00 am2640 views Human waste might be an unpleasant public health burden, but scientists at the University of Illinois see sanitation as a valuable facet of global ecosystems and an overlooked source of nutrients, organic material and water. Researchers unveil how soft materials react to deformation at molecular level Jun 24, 2019 7:00 am1034 views Before designing the next generation of soft materials, researchers must first understand how they behave during rapidly changing deformation. In a new study, researchers challenged previous assumptions regarding polymer behavior with newly developed laboratory techniques that measure polymer flow at the molecular level. Biochar may boost carbon storage, but benefits to germination and growth appear scant Jun 19, 2019 8:15 am1466 views Biochar may not be the miracle soil additive that many farmers and researchers hoped it to be, according to a new University of Illinois study. Biochar may boost the agricultural yield of some soils – especially poor quality ones – but there is no consensus on its effectiveness. Researchers tested different soils’ responses to multiple biochar types and were unable to verify their ability to increase plant growth. However, the study did show biochar’s ability to affect soil greenhouse gas emissions. New insight from Great Barrier Reef coral provides correction factor to global climate records Jun 18, 2019 9:45 am991 views Newly developed geological techniques help uncover the most accurate and high-resolution climate records to date, according to a new study. The research finds that the standard practice of using modern and fossil coral to measure sea-surface temperatures may not be as straightforward as originally thought. By combining high-resolution microscopic techniques and geochemical modeling, researchers are using the formational history of Porites coral skeletons to fine-tune the records used to make global climate predictions. 'Fettuccine' may be most obvious sign of life on Mars, researchers report May 29, 2019 8:00 am20005 views A rover scanning the surface of Mars for evidence of life might want to check for rocks that look like pasta, researchers report in the journal Astrobiology. The bacterium that controls the formation of such rocks on Earth is ancient and thrives in harsh environments that are similar to conditions on Mars, said University of Illinois geology professor Bruce Fouke, who led the new, NASA-funded study. Artificial photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide into liquefiable fuels May 22, 2019 12:30 pm4265 views Chemists at the University of Illinois have successfully produced fuels using water, carbon dioxide and visible light through artificial photosynthesis. By converting carbon dioxide into more complex molecules like propane, green energy technology is now one step closer to using excess CO2 to store solar energy – in the form of chemical bonds – for use when the sun is not shining and in times of peak demand. Polymers jump through hoops on pathway to sustainable materials May 17, 2019 9:30 am2197 views Recyclable plastics that contain ring-shaped polymers may be a key to developing sustainable synthetic materials. Despite some promising advances, researchers said, a full understanding of how to processes ring polymers into practical materials remains elusive. In a new study, researchers identified a mechanism called “threading” that takes place when a polymer is stretched – a behavior not witnessed before. This new insight may lead to new processing methods for sustainable polymer materials. Mechanics, chemistry and biomedical research join forces for noninvasive tissue therapy May 6, 2019 2:00 pm1763 views A fortuitous conversation between two University of Illinois scientists has opened a new line of communication between biomedical researchers and the tissues they study. The new findings, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, show that high-intensity focused ultrasound waves can penetrate biological tissue to activate molecules able to perform specific tasks. Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought Apr 30, 2019 8:15 am1616 views Recent flooding in the Midwest has brought attention to the complex agricultural problems associated with too much rain. Data from the past three decades suggest that excessive rainfall can affect crop yield as much as excessive heat and drought. In a new study, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois linked crop insurance, climate, soil and corn yield data from 1981 through 2016. How does sexual harassment affect young women in physics? Apr 23, 2019 10:30 am2247 views In a study reported in the journal Physical Review Physics Education Research, nearly 75% of 471 undergraduate women in physics who responded to a survey offered during a professional conference reported having experienced at least one type of sexual harassment – mostly gender harassment – in their field. U. of I. anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy, a co-author of the report, talked to News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about the study, which also examined the respondents’ feelings of belonging and legitimacy as scientists and scholars. Multistep self-assembly opens door to new reconfigurable materials Apr 18, 2019 4:00 am1885 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Self-assembling synthetic materials come together when tiny, uniform building blocks interact and form a structure. However, nature lets materials like proteins of varying size and shape assemble, allowing for complex architectures that can handle multiple tasks. Study: Reducing energy required to convert CO2 waste into valuable resources Apr 17, 2019 10:45 am856 views CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Surplus industrial carbon dioxide creates an opportunity to convert waste into a valuable commodity. Excess CO2 can be a feedstock for chemicals typically derived from fossil fuels, but the process is energy-intensive and expensive. University of Illinois chemical engineers have assessed the technical and economic feasibility of a new electrolysis technology that uses a cheap biofuel byproduct to reduce the energy consumption of the waste-to-value process by 53 percent. Illinois chancellor and chemist elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences Apr 17, 2019 5:00 am1148 views Chancellor Robert J. Jones and chemistry professor Catherine J. Murphy have been elected as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Smart antioxidant-containing polymer responds to body chemistry, environment Apr 16, 2019 1:00 pm868 views Oxidants found within living organisms are byproducts of metabolism and are essential to wound-healing and immunity. However, when their concentrations become too high, inflammation and tissue damage can occur. University of Illinois engineers have developed and tested a new drug-delivery system that senses high oxidant levels and responds by administering just the right amount of antioxidant to restore this delicate balance. How is Illinois contributing to the Event Horizon Telescope Project? Apr 10, 2019 8:15 am9311 views The Event Horizon Telescope Project announced that it has captured the first image of a black hole. The feature is located at the center of Messier 87 – a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with University of Illinois physics and astronomy professor Charles Gammie, who heads up the theory working group for the large, multi-institutional collaboration. 'Quantum Rhapsodies' performance explores quantum physics, its role in our universe Apr 4, 2019 8:00 am844 views “Quantum Rhapsodies” uses narration, video images and the music of the Jupiter String Quartet to explore the world of quantum physics. Freshwater coastal erosion alters global carbon budget Mar 27, 2019 8:00 am1003 views Shoreline erosion can transform freshwater wetlands from carbon-storage pools to carbon sources, according to a new study led by Illinois State Geological Survey researchers. Wave action and high water levels sweep away soils and plants at a rate much higher than nature can replace them. An accurate measurement of this carbon budget imbalance may help better prioritize coastal management efforts and improve global carbon-cycle models. Report outlines growing climate change-related threats to Great Lakes region Mar 22, 2019 10:15 am2244 views A team of Midwestern climate scientists has released a new report with grim predictions about the impact of climate change on the Great Lakes region. The report foresees a growing trend of wetter winters and springs, with increases in heavy rain events leading to flooding, particularly in urban areas with hard surfaces that cannot absorb the excess water. Rural areas will likely see more erosion, and unpredictable cycles of heat and rainfall could undermine agriculture. Potential new cystic fibrosis treatment uses 'molecular prosthetic' for missing lung protein Mar 13, 2019 1:00 pm6828 views An approved drug normally used to treat fungal infections could also do the job of a protein channel that is missing or defective in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, operating as a prosthesis on the molecular scale, says new research from the University of Illinois and the University of Iowa. Cystic fibrosis is a lifelong disease that makes patients vulnerable to lung infections. There are treatments for some but not all patients, and there is no cure. The drug restored infection-fighting properties in lung tissue donated by human patients as well as in pigs with cystic fibrosis. It has potential to become the first treatment to address all types of cystic fibrosis, regardless of the genetic mutation that causes the protein deficiency. Is there a cure for potholes? Feb 27, 2019 2:00 pm3452 views Temperatures may be on the rise, but many motorists and pedestrians remain focused on the ground as they attempt to navigate safely around the many potholes that develop this time of year. Industrial and enterprise systems engineering professor Henrique M. Reis spoke with Illinois News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about how potholes form and if there are any potential solutions. Ancient extinct sloth tooth in Belize tells story of creature’s last year Feb 27, 2019 1:00 pm1427 views Some 27,000 years ago in central Belize, a giant sloth was thirsty. The region was arid, not like today’s steamy jungle. The Last Glacial Maximum had locked up much of Earth’s moisture in polar ice caps and glaciers. Water tables in the area were low. The sloth, a beast that stood up to 4 meters tall, eventually found water – in a deep sinkhole with steep walls down to the water. That is where it took its final drink. Two Illinois professors named Sloan Research Fellows Feb 19, 2019 10:00 am2408 views Electrical and computer engineering professor Haitham Al-Hassanieh and chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Diwakar Shukla are recipients of this year's Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. According to the foundation, the awards "honor early career scholars whose achievements mark them as among the most promising researchers in their fields." Are global warming, recent Midwest cold snap related? Feb 12, 2019 8:15 am3284 views Last month, the Midwest experienced record-breaking cold temperatures and many are wondering how, when the climate is experiencing an unprecedented warming trend, we can still experience such frigid cold. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian asked University of Illinois atmospheric sciences professor Don Wuebbles to explain. New model predicts how ground shipping will affect future human health, environment Feb 11, 2019 10:00 am2189 views The trucks and trains that transport goods across the United States emit gases and particles that threaten human health and the environment. A University of Illinois-led project developed a new model that predicts through 2050 the impact of different environmental policies on human mortality rates and short- and long-term climate change caused by particulate and greenhouse gas emissions. Experts call for national research integrity advisory board Feb 11, 2019 9:45 am287 views It’s been proposed before, but so far no one has heeded the call for an official advisory board to support ethical behavior in research institutions. Today, leaders in academia with expertise in the professional and ethical conduct of research have formalized a proposal to finally assemble such an advisory board. The proposal appears in the journal Nature. Microplastic contamination found in common source of groundwater, researchers report Jan 25, 2019 6:30 am4794 views Microplastics contaminate the world's surface waters, yet scientists have only just begun to explore their presence in groundwater systems. A new study is the first to report microplastics in fractured limestone aquifers – a groundwater source that accounts for 25 percent of the global drinking water supply. Researchers gain control over soft-molecule synthesis Jan 14, 2019 2:00 pm1268 views By gaining control over shape, size and composition during synthetic molecule assembly, researchers can begin to probe how these factors influence the function of soft materials. Finding these answers could help advance virology, drug delivery development and the creation of new materials. Researchers diversify drug development options with new metal catalyst Jan 9, 2019 9:15 am1261 views A University of Illinois team of researchers led by chemistry professor M. Christina White has developed a new manganese-based catalyst that can change the structure of druglike molecules to make new drugs, advancing the pace and efficiency of drug development. Superfluidity: what is it and why does it matter? Dec 20, 2018 8:45 am10678 views 2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the landmark physics discovery of superfluidity. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian asked University of Illinois physics professor and 2003 Nobel Prize winner Anthony Leggett about the significance of the historic finding. What is on the horizon for global carbon emissions? Dec 5, 2018 11:45 am579 views On Dec. 5, the Global Carbon Project published the Global Carbon Budget 2018, giving world leaders access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain was among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. Jain talked about the carbon budget and this year’s findings with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian. Team converts wet biological waste to diesel-compatible fuel Dec 4, 2018 8:45 am3089 views In a step toward producing renewable engine fuels that are compatible with existing diesel fuel infrastructure, researchers report they can convert wet biowaste, such as swine manure and food scraps, into a fuel that can be blended with diesel and that shares diesel’s combustion efficiency and emissions profile. They report their findings in the journal Nature Sustainability. Can we talk about the Illinois climate? Dec 3, 2018 8:15 am637 views Jim Angel, the Illinois state climatologist, has announced that he will retire in December 2018 after 34 years at the Illinois State Water Survey. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with him about his career, climate change and the National Climate Assessment released on Black Friday.