blog postsMost homemade masks are doing a great job, even when we sneeze, study findsSep 17, 2020 9:30 am2578 views Studies indicate that homemade masks help combat the spread of viruses like COVID-19 when combined with frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. Many of these studies focus on the transfer of tiny aerosol particles; however, researchers say that speaking, coughing and sneezing generates larger droplets that carry virus particles. Because of this, mechanical engineer Taher Saif said the established knowledge may not be enough to determine how the effectiveness of some fabrics used in homemade masks.Study: Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test could bypass the labAug 31, 2020 2:00 pm6017 views In a new study, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign researchers have demonstrated a prototype of a rapid COVID-19 molecular test and a simple-to-use, portable instrument for reading the results with a smartphone in 30 minutes, which could enable point-of-care diagnosis without needing to send samples to a lab.U of I to lead two of seven new national artificial intelligence institutesAug 26, 2020 8:00 am5985 views The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture are announcing an investment of more than $140 million to establish seven artificial intelligence institutes in the U.S. Two of the seven will be led by teams at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The USDA-NIFA will fund the AI Institute for Future Agricultural Resilience, Management and Sustainability at the U. of I. Illinois computer science professor Vikram Adve will lead the AIFARMS Institute. The NSF will fund the AI Institute for Molecular Discovery, Synthetic Strategy and Manufacturing, also known as the Molecule Maker Lab Institute. Huimin Zhao, a U. of I. professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry, will lead this institute.New approach to explaining soft material flow may yield way to new materials, disaster predictionAug 24, 2020 2:00 pm766 views How does toothpaste stay in its tube and not ooze out when we remove the cap? What causes seemingly solid ground to suddenly break free into a landslide? Defining exactly how soft materials flow and seize has eluded researchers for years, but a new study explains this complex motion using relatively simple experiments. The ability to define – and eventually predict – soft material flow will benefit people dealing with everything from spreadable cheese to avalanches.Machine learning peeks into nano-aquariumsAug 24, 2020 8:00 am416 views In the nanoworld, tiny particles such as proteins appear to dance as they transform and assemble to perform various tasks while suspended in a liquid. Recently developed methods have made it possible to watch and record these otherwise-elusive tiny motions, and researchers now take a step forward by developing a machine learning workflow to streamline the process. Exploding stars may have caused mass extinction on Earth, study showsAug 18, 2020 12:00 pm4184 views Imagine reading by the light of an exploded star, brighter than a full moon – it might be fun to think about, but this scene is the prelude to a disaster when the radiation devastates life as we know it. Killer cosmic rays from nearby supernovae could be the culprit behind at least one mass extinction event, researchers said, and finding certain radioactive isotopes in Earth’s rock record could confirm this scenario.Illinois 'engineer guy' Hammack awarded Hoover MedalAug 13, 2020 8:00 am1603 views Bill Hammack, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, has been awarded the Hoover Medal.Electronic components join forces to take up 10 times less space on computer chipsAug 10, 2020 1:45 pm1245 views Electronic filters are part of the inner workings of our phones and other wireless devices. They eliminate or enhance specific input signals to achieve the desired output signals. They are essential, but take up space on the chips that researchers are on a constant quest to make smaller. A new study demonstrates the successful integration of the individual elements that make up electronic filters onto a single component, significantly reducing the amount of space taken up by the device.COVID-19 briefing: Homegrown models inform university's safety measuresAug 7, 2020 1:45 pm1294 views When classes resume Aug. 24, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign will enlist a program that includes COVID-19 target, test and tell protocols and employs a saliva-based testing method. The program’s design relied heavily on a team of researchers’ predictions of how different variables might help mitigate the spread of the virus. Two of those researchers discussed their work in a recent online briefing.Training neural circuits early in development improves response, study findsAug 6, 2020 1:30 pm1055 views When it comes to training neural circuits for tissue engineering or biomedical applications, a new study suggests a key parameter: Train them young. Electric cooker an easy, efficient way to sanitize N95 masks, study findsAug 6, 2020 9:30 am139429 views Owners of electric multicookers may be able to add another use to its list of functions, a new study suggests: sanitization of N95 respirator masks. The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign study found that 50 minutes of dry heat in an electric cooker, such as a rice cooker or Instant Pot, decontaminated N95 respirators inside and out while maintaining their filtration and fit. This could enable wearers to safely reuse limited supplies of the respirators, originally intended to be one-time-use items. Eight projects awarded funding for AI research to mitigate COVID-19Jun 30, 2020 1:45 pm2871 views Eight University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign projects are among 26 to receive the first C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute awards for artificial intelligence techniques to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The institute will provide a total of $5.4 million over the next year to projects that examine the medical, social and economic impacts of the novel coronavirus and inspire researcher collaboration in advanced machine learning and other AI disciplines. Illinois professor proposes guide for developing common data science approachesJun 25, 2020 9:00 am758 views University of Illinois information sciences professor Victoria Stodden proposes a way to develop recognized data science processes for research.Recovery from airline delays works best with future disruptions in mindJun 22, 2020 9:30 am765 views Instead of responding to each flight delay as if it were an isolated event, airlines should consider the likelihood of potential disruptions ahead, researchers report in the journal Transportation Science. They developed a new approach that allows airlines to respond to flight delays and cancellations while also incorporating information about likely disruptions later the same day.Human activity on rivers outpaces, compounds effects of climate changeJun 19, 2020 10:00 am2323 views The livelihoods of millions of people living along the world’s biggest river systems are under threat by a range of stressors caused by the daily economic, societal and political activity of humans – in addition to the long-term effects of climate change, researchers report.Simulated sea slug gets addicted to drugJun 16, 2020 8:15 am1391 views Scientists built a computer model of a simple brain network based on that of a sea slug, taught it how to get food, gave it an appetite and the ability to experience reward, added a dash of something called homeostatic plasticity and then exposed it to a very intoxicating drug. To no one’s surprise, the creature became addicted. The research is part of a long-term project to create a working model of the brain, starting with the simplest of circuits and gradually adding complexity, said Rhanor Gillette, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor emeritus of molecular and integrative physiology who led the research.Researchers mimic nature for fast, colorful 3D printingJun 10, 2020 1:00 pm1340 views Brilliantly colored chameleons, butterflies, opals – and now some 3D-printed materials – reflect color by using nanoscale structures called photonic crystals. A new study that demonstrates how a modified 3D-printing process provides a versatile approach to producing multiple colors from a single ink is published in the journal Science Advances.Study: Integrating satellite and socioeconomic data to improve climate change policyMay 28, 2020 12:15 pm654 views Bangladesh is on track to lose all of its forestland in the next 35-40 years, leading to a rise in CO2 emissions and subsequent climate change, researchers said. However, that is just one of the significant land-use changes that the country is experiencing. A new study uses satellite and census data to quantify and unravel how physical and economic factors drive land-use changes. Understanding this relationship can inform climate policy at the national scale in Bangladesh and beyond.Study: Multiscale crop modeling effort required to assess climate change adaptationMay 14, 2020 12:00 pm1090 views Crop modeling is essential for understanding how to secure the food supply as the planet adapts to climate change. Many current crop models focus on simulating crop growth and yield at the field scale, but lack genetic and physiological data, which may hamper accurate production and environmental impact assessment at larger scales.Growing mountains or shifting ground: What is going on in Earth’s inner core?May 12, 2020 11:45 am9575 views Exhaustive seismic data from repeating earthquakes and new data-processing methods have yielded the best evidence yet that the Earth’s inner core is rotating – revealing a better understanding of the hotly debated processes that control the planet’s magnetic field.Making a homemade COVID mask? Study explains best fabric choicesMay 1, 2020 9:45 am32771 views Health authorities believe COVID-19 spreads by the transmission of respiratory droplets, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends homemade cloth face coverings for use in public spaces. Starting today, Illinois joins many other states in requiring people to wear masks while out. However, initial uncertainty regarding the masks’ effectiveness in reducing exhaled droplets leaves some people unsure or skeptical of their usefulness during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Mechanical science and engineering professor Taher Saif spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about a study that he and his graduate students, Onur Aydin and Bashar Emon, performed on the effectiveness of common household fabrics for use in homemade masks.Nanostimulators boost stem cells for muscle repairMay 1, 2020 8:00 am1152 views In regenerative medicine, an ideal treatment for patients whose muscles are damaged from lack of oxygen would be to invigorate them with an injection of their own stem cells. In a new study published in the journal ACS Nano, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated that “nanostimulators” – nanoparticles seeded with a molecule the body naturally produces to prompt stem cells to heal wounds – can amp up stem cells’ regenerative powers in a targeted limb in mice.Thomas Huang, pioneer in image compression, has diedApr 28, 2020 12:30 pm2261 views Thomas Huang, a pioneering researcher in the field of image compression and an influential educator at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, died Saturday. In his long career as a professor of electrical and computer engineering, Huang was ranked among the world’s most influential researchers and mentored more than 100 students. He was 83.Spinal cord gives bio-bots walking rhythmApr 28, 2020 10:00 am709 views Miniature biological robots are making greater strides than ever, thanks to the spinal cord directing their steps.Illinois computer scientist, physicist elected to American Academy of Arts and SciencesApr 27, 2020 9:00 am1382 views University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign computer science professor Sarita V. Adve and physics professor Philip W. Phillips have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest honor societies in the nation.Inexpensive, portable detector identifies pathogens in minutesApr 23, 2020 12:00 pm3882 views Most viral test kits rely on labor- and time-intensive laboratory preparation and analysis techniques; for example, tests for the novel coronavirus can take days to detect the virus from nasal swabs. Now, researchers have demonstrated an inexpensive yet sensitive smartphone-based testing device for viral and bacterial pathogens that takes about 30 minutes to complete. The roughly $50 smartphone accessory could reduce the pressure on testing laboratories during a pandemic such as COVID-19.Study reveals unique physical, chemical properties of cicada wingsApr 14, 2020 8:15 am1086 views Biological structures sometimes have unique features that engineers would like to copy. For example, many types of insect wings shed water, kill microbes, reflect light in unusual ways and are self-cleaning. While researchers have dissected the physical characteristics that likely contribute to such traits, a new study reveals that the chemical compounds that coat cicada wings also contribute to their ability to repel water and kill microbes.New study shows how oxygen transfer is altered in diseased lung tissueApr 9, 2020 12:00 pm2101 views A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed tiny sensors that measure oxygen transport in bovine lung tissue. The study – which establishes a new framework for observing the elusive connection between lung membranes, oxygen flow and related disease – is published in the journal Nature Communications.Computational human cell reveals new insight on genetic information processingMar 25, 2020 1:00 pm1379 views Researchers have developed the first computational model of a human cell and simulated its behavior for 15 minutes – the longest time achieved for a biological system of this complexity. In a new study, simulations reveal the effects of spatial organization within cells on some of the genetic processes that control the regulation and development of human traits and some human diseases.Crumpled graphene makes ultra-sensitive cancer DNA detectorMar 24, 2020 6:00 am2170 views Graphene-based biosensors could usher in an era of liquid biopsy, detecting DNA cancer markers circulating in a patient’s blood or serum. But current designs need a lot of DNA. In a new study, crumpling graphene makes it more than ten thousand times more sensitive to DNA by creating electrical “hot spots,” researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found.Physics professor, Nobel laureate Anthony Leggett donates papers to University ArchivesMar 5, 2020 2:15 pm1615 views Anthony Leggett’s papers from more than 50 years of research and teaching will provide a window on his groundbreaking research in theoretical condensed matter physics.Alumnus Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO and chairman, dies at 84Mar 2, 2020 1:45 pm2201 views John Francis “Jack” Welch Jr., 84, the former CEO and chairman of General Electric Co., has died. He was a chemical engineer who earned a Ph.D. in 1960 in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Breaking the temperature barrier in small-scale materials testingFeb 25, 2020 8:00 am965 views Researchers have demonstrated a new method for testing microscopic aeronautical materials at ultra-high temperatures. By combining electron microscopy and laser heating, scientists can evaluate these materials much more quickly and inexpensively than with traditional testing.Let it snow: Researchers put cloud seeding to the testFeb 24, 2020 2:00 pm600 views Cloud seeding has become an increasingly popular practice in the western United States, where states grapple with growing demands for water. Measuring how much precipitation cloud seeding produces has been a longstanding challenge. Researchers have developed a way to use radar and other tools to more accurately measure the volume of snow produced through cloud seeding.New CRISPR base-editing technology slows ALS progression in miceFeb 21, 2020 10:15 am2292 views A new CRISPR gene-editing method can inactivate one of the genes responsible for an inherited form of ALS, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report in a new study. The novel treatment slowed disease progression, improved muscle function and extended lifespan in mice with an aggressive form of ALS.Two Illinois professors named Sloan Research FellowsFeb 12, 2020 9:00 am4254 views Two University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign scientists are among 126 recipients of the 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This honor is one of the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early career researchers. Sottos elected to National Academy of EngineeringFeb 7, 2020 1:00 pm2685 views Nancy Sottos, an engineering professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. She is one of 87 new members and 18 international members announced by the Academy on Feb. 6.Team creates game-based virtual archaeology field schoolJan 29, 2020 8:00 am1912 views Before they can get started at their field site – a giant cave studded with stalactites, stalagmites and human artifacts – 15 undergraduate students must figure out how to use their virtual hands and tools. They also must learn to teleport. This is ANTH 399, a course designed to bring the archaeological field school experience to undergraduate students who never leave campus.Researchers expand microchip capability with new 3D inductor technologyJan 23, 2020 12:15 pm2027 views Smaller is better when it comes to microchips, researchers said, and by using 3D components on a standardized 2D microchip manufacturing platform, developers can use up to 100 times less chip space. A team of engineers has boosted the performance of its previously developed 3D inductor technology by adding as much as three orders of magnitudes more induction to meet the performance demands of modern electronic devices.New understanding of condensation could lead to better power plant condenser, de-icing materialsJan 23, 2020 8:15 am939 views For decades, it’s been understood that water repellency is needed for surfaces to shed condensation buildup – like the droplets of water that form in power plant condensers to reduce pressure. New research shows that the necessity of water repellency is unclear and that the slipperiness between the droplets and solid surface appears to be more critical to the clearing of condensation. This development has implications for the costs associated with power generation and technologies like de-icing surfaces for power lines and aircraft.Advanced polymers help streamline water purification, environmental remediationJan 21, 2020 8:00 am1216 views It takes a lot of energy to collect, clean and dispose of contaminated water. Some contaminants, like arsenic, occur in low concentrations, calling for even more energy-intensive selective removal processes.Researchers gain control over internal structure of self-assembled composite materialsJan 15, 2020 12:00 pm1144 views Composites made from self-assembling inorganic materials are valued for their unique strength and thermal, optical and magnetic properties. However, because self-assembly can be difficult to control, the structures formed can be highly disordered, leading to defects during large-scale production. Researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan have developed a templating technique that instills greater order and gives rise to new 3D structures in a special class of materials, called eutectics, to form new, high-performance materials.Illinois student's puzzle to appear in The New York TimesJan 2, 2020 1:30 pm6148 views Computer science student Adam Aaronson loves puzzles, and a crossword puzzle he created will be published in The New York Times.Scientists develop gentle, microscopic hands to study tiny, soft materialsDec 23, 2019 9:45 am778 views Handling very soft, delicate items without damaging them is hard enough with human hands, let alone doing it at the microscopic scale with laboratory instruments. Three new studies show how scientists have honed a technique for handling tiny, soft particles using precisely controlled fluid flows that act as gentle microscopic hands. The technique allows researchers to test the physical limits of these soft particles and the things made from them – ranging from biological tissues to fabric softeners.New polymer material may help batteries become self-healing, recyclableDec 23, 2019 8:15 am3947 views Lithium-ion batteries are notorious for developing internal electrical shorts that can ignite a battery’s liquid electrolytes, leading to explosions and fires. Engineers at the University of Illinois have developed a solid polymer-based electrolyte that can self-heal after damage – and the material can also be recycled without the use of harsh chemicals or high temperatures.Book looks at how landscape design helps solve water issuesDec 20, 2019 1:15 pm993 views Landscape design research can help solve environmental problems related to water systems.Single-molecule detection of cancer markers brings liquid biopsy closer to clinicDec 18, 2019 11:00 am1183 views A fast, inexpensive yet sensitive technique to detect cancer markers is bringing researchers closer to a “liquid biopsy” – a test using a small sample of blood or serum to detect cancer, rather than the invasive tissue sampling routinely used for diagnosis. Researchers at the University of Illinois developed a method to capture and count cancer-associated microRNAs, or tiny bits of messenger molecules that are exuded from cells and can be detected in blood or serum, with single-molecule resolution.Nanopores can identify the amino acids in proteins, the first step to sequencingDec 17, 2019 10:00 am1357 views A new study demonstrates that nanopores can be used to identify all 20 amino acids in proteins, a major step toward protein sequencing.New heat model may help electronic devices last longerDec 16, 2019 7:00 am626 views A University of Illinois-based team of engineers has found that the model currently used to predict heat loss in a common semiconductor material does not apply in all situations. By testing the thermal properties of gallium nitride semiconductors fabricated using four popular methods, the team discovered that some techniques produce materials that perform better than others. This new understanding can help chip manufacturers find ways to better diffuse the heat that leads to device damage and decreased device lifespans.What’s in the global carbon budget?Dec 9, 2019 1:45 pm624 views The Global Carbon Project recently released its 2019 annual report, giving decision-makers access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends. Illinois atmospheric scientist Atul Jain is among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with Jain about this year’s findings.