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  • Bioengineering professor Jennifer Amos displays the children's book "Jenny Saves a Convertible," published through a project with Illinois Engineering Ambassadors.

    Children's book by U of I students teaches third graders about automotive engineering

    A new book written and illustrated by two recent alumnae of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign introduces third graders to the nuts and bolts of automotive mechanics and engineering.

  • Portrait of researches in laboratory.

    Solid-state batteries line up for better performance

    Solid-state batteries pack a lot of energy into a small space, but their electrodes are not good at keeping in touch with their electrolytes. Liquid electrolytes reach every nook and cranny of an electrode to spark energy, but liquids take up space without storing energy and fail over time. Researchers are now putting solid electrolytes in touch with electrodes made of strategically arranged materials – at the atomic level – and the results are helping drive better solid-state battery technologies.

  • photo of engineering professor Katy Huff

    U of I engineering professor appointed to US Department of Energy leadership role

    Kathryn D. Huff, a professor of nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering in the Grainger College of Engineering, was sworn in today to a position in the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy.

  • Group portrait of researchers Wawrzyniec Dobrucki, Zhongmin Zhu, Viktor Gruev, Zuodong Liang, Steven Blair and Shuming Nie.

    Mantis shrimp-inspired camera provides second opinion during cancer surgery

    Some of the world’s greatest innovations, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine, owe their strength and elegance to natural design. Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have returned their gaze to the natural world to develop a camera inspired by the mantis shrimp that can visualize cancer cells during surgery.

  • Portrait of researchers.

    Previously unrecognized tsunami hazard identified in coastal cities

    A new study found overlooked tsunami hazards related to undersea, near-shore strike-slip faults, especially for coastal cities adjacent to faults that traverse inland bays. Several areas around the world may fall into this category, including the San Francisco Bay area, Izmit Bay in Turkey and the Gulf of Al-Aqaba in Egypt.

  • A portrait of researcher Christopher Tessum

    People of color hardest hit by air pollution from nearly all sources

    Various studies show that people of color are disproportionately exposed to air pollution in the United States. However, it was unclear whether this unequal exposure is due mainly to a few types of emission sources or whether the causes are more systemic. A new study that models peoples’ exposure to air pollution – resolved by race-ethnicity and income level – shows that exposure disparities among people of color and white people are driven by nearly all, rather than only a few, emission source types.

  • Photos of new NAS members

    Three Illinois faculty members elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Three University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive. Physics professor Nadya Mason and chemistry professors Ralph Nuzzo and Wilfred van der Donk are among 120 newly elected U.S. members – 59 of whom are women, the most elected in a single year – and 30 international members in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

  • Spliced portrait showing all four winners.

    Four Illinois faculty members elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Education Dean James Anderson, physics professor Nadya Mason, chemistry professor Nancy Makri and materials science and engineering professor Kenneth Schweizer have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest honor societies in the nation.

  • Portrait of professor Gary Parker at the Sangamon River in Mahomet, Illinois.

    Channel migration plays leading role in river network evolution, study finds

    Satellite views of Earth’s major river systems reveal their familiar treelike drainage patterns. The pattern – called dendritic – and its prevalence suggests that it may be the optimal state in which rivers exist. Challenged by the knowledge that numerical models of drainage evolution have yet to substantiate this assumption, researchers are now thinking of rivers as existing in a persistent reorganizational state instead of being in a set, stable configuration. Understanding this has implications for land use and infrastructure management decisions.

  • Portrait of postdoctoral researcher Pengcheng Sun

    New 3D microbatteries stand up to industry standard thin-film counterparts

    The thin-film lithium-ion batteries used in microdevices such as portable and medical electronics may supply a good amount of power relative to their mass, but do not provide enough power for many devices due to their limited size. Researchers have introduced a fabrication process that builds microbatteries with thick, 3D electrodes using lithography and electrodeposition – and seals each unit in a gel electrolyte-filled package. The new prototype shows the highest peak power density of any reported microbatteries, the researchers said.

  • Group portrait of researchers Manuel Hernandez, Rachneet Kaur and Richard Sowers.

    Machine learning helps spot gait problems in individuals with multiple sclerosis

    Monitoring the progression of multiple sclerosis-related gait issues can be challenging in adults over 50 years old, requiring a clinician to differentiate between problems related to MS and other age-related issues. To address this problem, researchers are integrating gait data and machine learning to advance the tools used to monitor and predict disease progression.

  • Group photo of Beckman Institute director Jeffrey Moore, left, postdoctoral researcher Hai Qian and materials science and engineering head Nancy Sottos

    Fast-acting, color-changing molecular probe senses when a material is about to fail

    Materials that contain special polymer molecules may someday be able to warn us when they are about to fail, researchers said. Engineers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have improved their previously developed force-sensitive molecules, called mechanophores, to produce reversible, rapid and vibrant color change when a force is applied.

  • Professor Brian Cunningham

    Microscope that detects individual viruses could power rapid diagnostics

    A fast, low-cost technique to see and count viruses or proteins from a sample in real time, without any chemicals or dyes, could underpin a new class of devices for rapid diagnostics and viral load monitoring, including HIV and the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Dried ground with mudcracks and grass growing around edges.

    Short-term climate modeling forecasts drought for Southeast US

    Many climate models focus on scenarios decades into the future, making their outcomes seem unreliable and problematic for decision-making in the immediate future. In a proactive move, researchers are using short-term forecasts to stress the urgency of drought risk in the United States and inform policymakers’ actions now.

  • Illinois researchers are part of multi-institutional team that found that solvents spontaneously react with metal nanoparticles to form reactive complexes that can improve catalyst performance and simultaneously reduce the environmental impact of chemical manufacturing.

    Mysterious organic scum boosts chemical reaction efficiency, may reduce chemical waste

    Chemical manufacturers frequently use toxic solvents such as alcohols and benzene to make products like pharmaceuticals and plastics. Researchers are examining a previously overlooked and misunderstood phenomenon in the chemical reactions used to make these products. This discovery brings a new fundamental understanding of catalytic chemistry and a steppingstone to practical applications that could someday make chemical manufacturing less wasteful and more environmentally sound.

  • Nick Holonyak Jr. smiles at a reception for the 2015 Draper Prize.

    Nick Holonyak Jr., pioneer of LED lighting, awarded Queen Elizabeth Prize

    Nick Holonyak Jr., a renowned innovator of illumination, has been awarded the 2021 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering “for the creation and development of LED lighting, which forms the basis of all solid-state lighting technology.” Holonyak (pronounced huh-LON-yak) is credited with the development of the first practical visible-spectrum LED, now commonly used in light bulbs, device displays and lasers worldwide.

  • Illinois researchers Aimy Wissa, Marianne Alleyne and Ophelia Bolmin studied the motion of a click beetle’s jump and present the first analytical framework to uncover the physics behind ultrafast motion by small animals.

    Latch, load and release: Elastic motion makes click beetles click, study finds

    Click beetles can propel themselves more than 20 body lengths into the air, and they do so without using their legs. While the jump’s motion has been studied in depth, the physical mechanisms that enable the beetles’ signature clicking maneuver have not. A new study examines the forces behind this super-fast energy release and provides guidelines for studying extreme motion, energy storage and energy release in other small animals like trap-jaw ants and mantis shrimps.

  • A new climate model that makes projections specific to urban areas predicts that by the end of this century, average warming across global cities will increase by 1.9 degrees Celsius to 4.4 C, depending on the rate of emissions.

    New data-driven global climate model provides projections for urban environments

    Cities only occupy about 3% of the Earth’s total land surface, but they bear the burden of the human-perceived effects of global climate change, researchers said. Global climate models are set up for big-picture analysis, leaving urban areas poorly represented. In a new study, researchers take a closer look at how climate change affects cities by using data-driven statistical models combined with traditional process-driven physical climate models.

  • Masks are an important tool for fighting COVID-19 but wearing one can make it difficult for others to hear us speak. Using a unique laboratory setup, Illinois researcher Ryan Corey tested how different types of masks affect the acoustics of speech.

    Disposable surgical masks best for being heard clearly when speaking, study finds

    Researcher Ryan Corey recently heard from a friend who teaches at a school where some of the students have hearing loss. The friend wanted to know if he had any ideas to help her communicate with these students while wearing a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19. Corey, who also has hearing loss, did not know what to tell her. So, he headed to the Illinois Augmented Listening Laboratory to look for solutions.

  • Illinois researchers developed a spherical lens that allows light coming into the lens from any direction to be focused into a very small spot on the surface of the lens exactly opposite the input direction. This is the first time such a lens has been made for visible light.

    Researchers confront optics and data-transfer challenges with 3D-printed lens

    Researchers have developed new 3D-printed microlenses with adjustable refractive indices – a property that gives them highly specialized light-focusing abilities. This advancement is poised to improve imaging, computing and communications by significantly increasing the data-routing capability of computer chips and other optical systems, the researchers said.

  • Carl Bernacchi is one of six faculty members from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign named as AAAS Fellows this year.

    Six Illinois faculty members elected AAAS Fellows

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Six professors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2020 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    Evolution, ecology and behavior professor Alison Bell; plant biology professor Carl Bernacchi; bioengineering professor Rohit Bhargava; materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun; chemistry professor Prashant Jain; and materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos are among the 489 scientists to be awarded the distinction of AAAS Fellow this year.

  • Individual photos of each of the three researchers described in this release.

    Three Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential

    Three faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2020 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes leading researchers in the sciences and social sciences from around the world. It is based on an analysis of journal article publication and citation data, an objective measure of a researcher’s influence, from 2009-2019.

    The highly cited Illinois researchers this year are: materials science and engineering professor Axel Hoffmann, crop sciences and plant biology professor Stephen Long, and plant biology professor Donald Ort.

  • Professor Richard Sowers, left, and recent graduate Daniel Carmody have developed a new computer algorithm that will help urban planners understand and measure traffic congestion and suggest alternative routes.

    Driver behavior influences traffic patterns as much as roadway design, study reports

    Urban planners may soon have a new way to measure traffic congestion. By capturing the different routes by which vehicles can travel between locations, researchers have developed a new computer algorithm that helps quantify regions of congestion in urban areas and suggests ways around them

  • Sheldon Jacobson and Janet Jokela stand outdoors.

    Study of non-COVID-19 deaths shows 2020 increase in several demographics

    March through May saw a significant increase in deaths over previous years – and not just from COVID-19, says a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    When deaths attributed to COVID-19 were removed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention totals, the death rate in several demographics outpaced the same period in 2019, the study found. The timeframe represents the first three months of response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

  • Professor Abigail Wooldridge, left, the project lead for mobileSHIELD, a mobile COVID-19 testing laboratory created by a team from the Grainger College of Engineering, gives Chancellor Robert Jones a tour of the facility. The project will bring COVID-19 testing capability to communities across Illinois and the nation.

    New mobile COVID-19 lab prototype completed

    Researchers have completed a prototype for a mobile laboratory designed to demonstrate a way to rapidly deploy the I-COVID saliva-based test for COVID-19 developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The lab, called mobileSHIELD, also could deliver other testing capability during a public health crisis, and it will serve as a rich source of human factors engineering data.

  • Illinois engineers Kwiyong Kim, left, Xiao Su, Johannes Elbert and Paola Baldaguez Medina are part of a team that developed a new polymer electrode device that can capture and destroy PFAS contaminants present in water.

    Copolymer helps remove pervasive PFAS toxins from environment

    Researchers have demonstrated that they can attract, capture and destroy PFAS – a group of federally regulated substances found in everything from nonstick coatings to shampoo and nicknamed “the forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the natural environment.

  • Photo of graduate student Ben David standing outdoors with his arms crossed.

    U of I virtual test assesses bioengineering students' laboratory skills

    When COVID-19 forced the U. of I. to go to online-only instruction last spring, a team led by bioengineering professor Karin Jensen created a test to remotely assess students' ability to culture cells in the laboratory.

  • Researchers have demonstrated a new fabrication technique that allows them replicate the nanostructures found on cicada wings that make them water- and microbe-repellent.

    Cicada-inspired waterproof surfaces closer to reality, researchers report

    A multidisciplinary group that studies the physical and chemical properties of insect wings has demonstrated the ability to reproduce the nanostructures that help cicada wings repel water and prevent bacteria from establishing on the surface. The new technique – which uses commercial nail polish – is economical and straightforward, and the researchers said it will help fabricate future high-tech waterproof materials.

  • Byungsoo Kim, left, and professor Hyunjoon Kong stand outdoors, socially distanced.

    Octopus-inspired sucker transfers thin, delicate tissue grafts and biosensors

    Thin tissue grafts and flexible electronics have a host of applications for wound healing, regenerative medicine and biosensing. A new device inspired by an octopus’s sucker rapidly transfers delicate tissue or electronic sheets to the patient, overcoming a key barrier to clinical application, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and collaborators.

  • Silicon solar panels are reaching their technological limit, but researchers are experimenting by combining silicon with other materials to squeeze more energy out of sunlight. Electrical and computer engineering professor Larry Lee led a new study that could boost the efficiency of consumer solar panels by 50%.

    Multi-institutional team extracts more energy from sunlight with advanced solar panels

    Researchers working to maximize solar panel efficiency said layering advanced materials atop traditional silicon is a promising path to eke more energy out of sunlight. A new study shows that by using a precisely controlled fabrication process, researchers can produce multilayered solar panels with the potential to be 1.5 times more efficient than traditional silicon panels.

  • Professor Ning Wang sits in his lab.

    Gene expression altered by direction of forces acting on cell

    Tissues and cells in the human body are subjected to a constant push and pull – strained by other cells, blood pressure and fluid flow, to name a few. The type and direction of the force on a cell alters gene expression by stretching different regions of DNA, researchers at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators in China found in a new study.

  • Facilities and Services executive director Mohamed Attalla said the campus has addressed many indoor air-quality concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic by assuring that HVAC systems are operating properly and supplying fresh outdoor air to buildings.

    How is campus adjusting HVAC systems during the coronavirus pandemic?

    As temperatures drop and more people gather indoors, concerns about coronavirus particles floating in the air are on the rise. Officials at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have made adjustments to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to provide adequate ventilation, says Mohamed Attalla, the executive director of Facilities and Services. He spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about the proactive measures taken to assure that campus HVAC systems are operating correctly and supplying fresh outdoor air to buildings.

  • Researchers tested 11 household fabrics that are commonly used for homemade masks and found that all are effective at curbing the small and large respiratory droplets that are released when we speak, cough or sneeze.

    Most homemade masks are doing a great job, even when we sneeze, study finds

    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.

  • Top and bottom views of a microfluidic cartridge

    Study: Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test could bypass the lab

    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.

  • Aerial view of the U. of I. campus.

    U of I to lead two of seven new national artificial intelligence institutes

    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.

  • A new study from engineers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign uses simple experiments to explain how a better understanding of flowing motion of soft materials will help design new materials and could help predict some natural disasters.

    New approach to explaining soft material flow may yield way to new materials, disaster prediction

    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.

  • Illinois researchers have linked electron microscope imaging and machine learning, making it much easier to study nanoparticles in action. The schematic shows how a neural network, middle, works as a bridge between liquid-phase electron microscope imaging, left, and streamlined data output, right. For more information visit, pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acscentsci.0c00430.

    Machine learning peeks into nano-aquariums

    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. 

  • Bioengineering professor Jennifer Amos, seated, and postdoctoral research associate Gabriel Burks standing to her left with a laptop that displays public engagement coordinator Lara Hebert on the screen.

    Students use TikTok to learn about biomechanics during engineering virtual summer camps

    Teens attending the virtual summer camps hosted by the College of Engineering used the video-sharing medium TikTok to learn the principles of biomechanics and the techniques of motion-capture analysis.

  • Chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Bill Hammack, aka “the engineering guy,” has won the prestigious Hoover Medal for his civic and humanitarian contributions to engineering.

    Illinois 'engineer guy' Hammack awarded Hoover Medal

    Bill Hammack, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, has been awarded the Hoover Medal.

  • Electron microscope image of an array of new chip components that integrate the inductors, blue, and capacitors, yellow, needed to make the electronic signal filters in phones and other wireless devices.

    Electronic components join forces to take up 10 times less space on computer chips

    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.

  • Dean of the Grainger College of Engineering Rashid Bashir.

    Training neural circuits early in development improves response, study finds

    When it comes to training neural circuits for tissue engineering or biomedical applications, a new study suggests a key parameter: Train them young.

     

  • An N95 mask in a multicooker with a towel.

    Electric cooker an easy, efficient way to sanitize N95 masks, study finds

    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. 

  • Ian Brooks, the director of the Center for Health Informatics

    CHIME in Illinois puts students to work on COVID-related data science projects

    An international public health initiative connects students and public health agencies with data-information needs.

  • Professor Jim Best led a review of the health and resiliency of the world’s largest river systems and calls for multinational governance and scientific collaboration to confront the mounting effects of human activity and climate change faced by rivers.

    Human activity on rivers outpaces, compounds effects of climate change

    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.

  • Inspired by nature, Illinois researchers developed synthetic structure-based color materials – like those found in chameleon skin – for polymer inks used in 3D printing.

    Researchers mimic nature for fast, colorful 3D printing

    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.

  • Masooda Bashir

    Do COVID-19 apps protect your privacy?

    Many mobile apps that track the spread of COVID-19 ask for personal data but don’t indicate the information will be secure.

  • Mechanical science and engineering professor Taher Saif, right, and students Onur Aydin, left, and Bashar Emon test common household fabrics used to make face masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    Making a homemade COVID mask? Study explains best fabric choices

    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.

  • An artist's rendering of a nanostimulator attached to a fat-derived stem cell in damaged muscle tissue.

    Nanostimulators boost stem cells for muscle repair

    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.

  • A microscope image of a bio-bot.

    Spinal cord gives bio-bots walking rhythm

    Miniature biological robots are making greater strides than ever, thanks to the spinal cord directing their steps.

  • Electrical and computer engineering professor Brian Cunningham co-led a multi-institutional team to demonstrate an inexpensive and rapid smartphone-based pathogen testing device designed to ease pressure on testing laboratories during pandemics such as COVID-19.

    Inexpensive, portable detector identifies pathogens in minutes

    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.