Erin Gill and Felix Lu 
ctors' message: 

We hope you've had a good first quarter of the year. We have some pictures to share from our shared facilities open house held on January 28, 2016 (pictures below). We had apparently underestimated interest in the event but had over 100 registrants (we thought we would get about 60). With the inclusion of other campus facilities, there was additional interest in the event and we hope to do a rotation of facilities to showcase at least once a year. This is a great event to do some networking and cross-pollination of ideas. If you have any ideas on how to make this better, please let us know!
The Regional Materials and Manufacturing Network (RM2N) is having its annual symposium at UW-Milwaukee on May 2nd, 2016 ( For those of you who may not know about this, the AMIC is the Madison chapter of the RM2N and the network is growing with members interested in learning and discussing best practices to use in order to maximize efficient resource usage. Consider participating to influence how their interactions suit your needs and learning more about resources at the UW-system campuses near you!

We'd like to welcome new AMIC members - Intuitive Biosciences, Dock Technologies, and the Bemis Company. Dr. Bill Patterson and his team at Intuitive Biosciences makes protein analysis tools for the life sciences. Sarah Sandock and her team at Dock Technologies, makes biomedical timing devices for use in the clinical heath care industry. Bemis Company, located in Neenah, WI, is a market leader in flexible and rigid packaging solutions for food, consumer products, and the medical and pharmaceutical industry.Also in this newsletter is a member spotlight article from PhaseTech Spectroscopy, who makes state of the art 2-D spectrometers and mid-IR pulse shapers, a new member from 2015.

For the upcoming fall meeting, we are in the process of putting together speakers, topics and the general agenda. If you have comments or suggestions from previous meetings, please feel free to let us know what you liked or thought we could improve and we will take it all into consideration given our logistical constraints.

Finally, we'd like to mention our new connection with the newly formed Grainger Institute for Engineering  (GIE) directed by Dr. Dan Thoma. The initial thrust areas within the GIE are Advanced Manufacturing and Accelerated Materials Discovery. Felix has a partial appointment with the GIE to help increase visibility, awareness and interest from both internal and external affiliates and to coordinate synergistic events and collaborations among the MRSEC/AMIC, WMI/RM2N and the GIE. Significant program development has centered upon Smart and Digital Manufacturing (What's the difference?) strategies and implementation. This covers Additive Manufacturing, Smart Health care, applications in local Wisconsin Industries, as well as materials discovery that complement or advance the scope of the work. Enveloping these topics are critical applications using Data Analytics and Operations Research including Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM). These facets take advantage of the broad spectrum of deep expertise here on campus.

Finally, if you haven't already, please send in your membership renewal.

Enjoy the pictures!

Best regards,

Felix Lu, and Erin Gill
AMIC, Co-Directors
All pictures, courtesy of Susann Ely, Wisconsin Materials Institute.




As always, if you have questions, suggestions or comments, please let us know!
Best regards,
Felix Lu and Erin Gill,
Co-Directors, UW AMIC
UW News
Robertson, Kuech elected Materials Research Society fellows

Dean Ian Robertson
Ian M. Robertson, the dean of the College of Engineering, and Tom Kuech, the Milton J. and A. Maude Shoemaker Professor in chemical and biological engineering, recently were elected as Materials Research Society (MRS) fellows. Robertson was honored for his contributions to the understanding of processes associated with the degradation of materials exposed to extreme conditions, as well as his leadership in the materials community. Formerly the Donald B. Willett professor of engineering at the University of Illinois and director of the National Science Foundation Divison of Materials Research, Robertson focuses his research on how microstructure evolves in materials in extreme conditions, encouraging greater knowledge of macro-scale material changes. 
Professor Thomas Kuech

Kuech was recognized for his use of chemical vapor deposition of compound semiconductors for forming optical and electronic devices. His research focuses on methods of forming compound semiconductors, which drive high-power devices such as those used for wireless and optical telecommunications. He has made significant developments in the realm of chemical vapor deposition, a method for developing semiconductors with controlled electronic and optical properties.
The MRS fellowship, which is highly selective, recognizes members for their significant contributions to materials research. MRS Fellows will be honored at the MRS 2016 spring meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.


Jim Dumesic: The spark

Professor Jim Dumesic and graduate student Ali Hussain Motagamwala are optimizing an exciting new biomass process.
  Having scaled up production by double digits, momentum builds behind new biomass process

For a world hooked on fossil carbons, the vials of amber syrup in Jim Dumesic's lab are full of sweet potential.

Dumesic's group caused a stir in research circles and the media in 2014 by publishing a paper in the journal Science describing a new scheme for breaking down biomass and unlocking its polysaccharides. Those sugars - candy for microbes - can be fermented to ethanol or upgraded into a host of high value chemicals currently made from petroleum.

At the crux of their method is a solvent derived from biomass itself, called gamma valerolactone (GVL). It's an elegant process. The GVL created in the reaction is recycled and used to drive it again.

The method appears to be faster and cheaper than its competitors. It doesn't rely on pricey enzyme cocktails that take days to work and must be tailored to the reactants.

Prof. Lih-Sheng (Tom) Turng: Advancing Microcellular Polymers

Professor Tom Turng

 Posted on February 11, 2016 by

Thanks to the research of Professor Lih-Sheng (Tom) Turng, plastics can have applications in products ranging from eyeglass lenses to engineered tissues.
Within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Turng studies areas that include injection molding, microcellular injection molding, nanocomposites, biobased polymers, and tissue engineering scaffolds-and this research is redefining the future of polymers in industry, the environment, and public health.
Born and raised in Taiwan, Turng received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the National Taiwan University with a minor in manufacturing, and his master's and PhD degrees from Cornell University. At Cornell, he worked in the Cornell Injection Molding Program (CIMP). He also worked in industry, developing advanced plastics injection molding simulation software and a knowledge management system for 10 years before joining the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000. At UW-Madison, Turng chose to work on microcellular plastics. His research spans three distinct fields, as shown below.

Recent Patents:

Polymer Coating for Cell Culture Substrates

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a chemically defined culture surface with long-term stability.

A stem cell's microenvironment plays a key role in regulating its behavior (e.g., adhesion, migration, proliferation and differentiation). A variety of templates have been used to study stem cell behavior in vitro including self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), hydrogels and thin films.

Polymer coatings are one of the few good templates that are compatible with a wide range of substrates and have good physical stability. However, the coating must remain insoluble and not split away from the underlying substrate for the duration of the cell culture. This limits the kinds of polymers that can be used.

UW-Madison researchers have developed a new crosslinkable polymer coating for cell culture substrates. The nanometer-thin coating is made of glycidyl groups and azlactone groups distributed randomly along the copolymer backbone.

The coating is substrate independent and can be applied to a wide variety of organic and inorganic materials including plastic, silicon, glass and gold.

  • Cell culture substrates
  • Cell expansion, manufacturing and differentiation studies
  • Particularly useful for stem cells
  • Provides chemically defined surface
  • Long-term stability under culture conditions
  • Does not degrade in solution for 30 days or more
  • Coating is substrate independent.
The coating has been demonstrated to work on glass, gold, polystyrene, polycarbonate and silicon substrates. It has been applied to large areas for growth of cells in well-defined conditions. Moreover, the researchers have shown adhesion of human mesenchymal stem cells and embryonic stem cells to the coating, which remains effective down to five nanometers.

Padma Gopalan, William Murphy, Samantha Schmitt

For more information, contact Jeanine Burmania at or (608) 262-5733.

AMIC Member Spotlight
PhaseTech Spectroscopy
2810 Crossroads Drive, Suite 4000
Madison, WI 53718-8014
+1 608 712-1857
PhaseTech Spectroscopy is a scientific instrument company founded in 2012 and built around technology developed by Prof. Martin Zanni at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Our products enable cutting-edge
Chemistry Prof. Martin Zanni
research across a broad range of disciplines, including chemistry, biochemistry and material science.
At the heart of our products is a femtosecond pulse shaper, designed to be used with very short pulses of light (less than 10^-13 seconds in duration). The shaper separates the component frequencies of these short pulses, manipulates each frequency independently, and then combines them back together again, such that the new pulse has a user-defined shape. This ability is advantageous for many techniques, particularly 2D infrared and visible spectroscopy.
Two-dimensional IR spectroscopy probes the structure of molecules through their vibrations and is used to follow the dynamics of chemical reactions, protein folding, energy flow through materials, etc. 2D visible spectroscopy has been used, for example, to study exciton dynamics in light harvesting complexes and
FTIR _top_ and 2D IR _bottom_ spectrum of a mixture of two compounds_ tungsten hexacarbonyl and rhodium dicarbonyl. The 2D spectrum shows a wealth of additional information including the presence of crosspeaks. The pattern of crosspeaks in the 2D spectrum show that peaks A and B below to one compound while peak A belongs to the other. 2D IR spectrum was collected by Tianqi Zhang in the research laboratory of Prof. Martin Zanni at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
semiconductors, as well as energy transfer in photoexcited carbon nanotubes. In fact, these 2D spectroscopies can be applied to a wide variety of samples, much like FT-IR and visible spectroscopy. However, 2D spectra provide an even greater level of detail about structure and dynamics than traditional techniques.
We have also recently started selling mid-IR focal plane array detectors with sizes up to 128x128 pixels. These detectors are powerful tools for high-speed, high-resolution spectroscopy and imaging in the mid-IR (2-12 microns).
For more information on our company and products, please visit

Our 2D IR spectrometer goes through a high-level design process to maximize stability and ease of use in a compact footprint

Upcoming Events

UW Engineering in the news
George Phillips with a 3-D model of an enzyme _blue_green_ that cuts cellulose fibers _orange_gray_. Credit_ Jeff Fitlow_Rice University

The molecules that impart strength to paper, bamboo and wood-frame buildings - lignin and cellulose - have long stymied biofuels researchers by locking away more than half of a plant's energy-yielding sugar. In a study that could point the way to biofuels processes of the future, scientists from Rice University, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Joint BioEnergy Institute at Emeryville, Calif., have discovered how two bacterial enzymes work as a team to break apart lignin.
"Ultimately, we would like to use enzymatic fermentation - the same process that brewers and winemakers have used for centuries - to convert all the sugar from plants into ethanol and other fuels," said Rice's  George Phillips, co-author of  the study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. "The big target is cellulose, which is the primary ingredient in wood, grass stems and corn stalks. Cellulose is basically sugar, but it is tightly packed in a crystalline compound that is practically indigestible. There are some fungi and bacteria that have developed enzymes to cut it apart, but it's a very slow process, which is why it can take years for dead trees to decompose."
Lignin, another major component of plant fibers that accounts for up to one-third of the carbon in biomass, compounds the problem for any microorganism that wants to eat cellulose or any scientist who wishes to turn it into biofuel. Lignin has a gluelike consistency, and it coats and protects cellulose.
"The cellulose is tough, but organisms can't even get to it until they chew through the lignin," said Phillips, Rice's Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and professor of chemistry.
For industry, breaking down lignin has often proved an even tougher challenge than cellulose. As a result, the biofuels and paper industries mostly treat lignin as a waste product to be removed, isolated and discarded.
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Mass spectrometry has become one of the must-have tools of modern biology. The technology brings a new level of precision to challenges such as developing effective drugs, diagnosing diseases early and monitoring the progress of treatments.
The Morgridge Institute for Research, as part of its Metabolism Initiative, is working with a University of Wisconsin-Madison team to greatly expand the scope of "mass spec" applications on campus. A new resource housed in the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center brings together a multi-million dollar investment in mass spectrometry tools from multiple sources to form a central repository to tackle large-scale investigations.
Joshua Coon, a UW-Madison professor of chemistry and biomolecular chemistry and renowned innovator of mass spec technology, will lead the new initiative. Jason Russell was hired by the Morgridge Institute in October to lead the daily management of the lab.
"We are attempting to develop the capability to empower any kind of metabolism systems research that scientists here could imagine doing," says Coon. "We want to follow a collaborative model that provides users with the expertise to help interpret the data and bring the results into their experiments."
Mass spectrometry is a method of determining the precise chemical identity of a substance. It is able to measure the molecular mass of compounds in a sample and quantify their abundance, which is often the first step in determining the role it plays in biological function or disease.
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The UW-Madison researchers_ startup company_ InStep NanoPower_ partnered with Vibram to develop a first practical footwear energy harvester. The harvester captures energy produced by humans during walking and converts it into electrical power ready to be utilized by mobile electronic devices. This working prototype uses what the UW-Madison researchers call _energy generation tube_ technology_ which predates their _bubbler_ approach. Credit_ Tom Krupenkin_InStep NanoPower

When you're on the go and your smartphone battery is low, in the not-so-distant future you could charge it simply by plugging it into your shoe.
An innovative energy harvesting and storage technology developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison mechanical engineers could reduce our reliance on the batteries in our mobile devices, ensuring we have power for our devices no matter where we are.
In a paper published Nov. 16, 2015, in the journal Scientific Reports, Tom Krupenkin, a professor of mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, and J. Ashley Taylor, a senior scientist in UW-Madison's Mechanical Engineering Department, described an energy-harvesting technology that's particularly well suited for capturing the energy of human motion to power mobile electronic devices.
The technology could enable a footwear-embedded energy harvester that captures energy produced by humans during walking and stores it for later use.
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UW-Madison mechanical engineering senior Sidney Smith demonstrates the BadgerLoop Halbach wheels at the team_s exhibit booth during the second day of SpaceX_s Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend. The powerful magnetic wheels spin along both sides of the Hyperloop track_s center rail_ stabilizing the levitating transport pod and propelling it down the Hyperloop track. Eric Schirtzinger

When you're on the go and your smartphone battery is low, in the not-so-distant future you could charge it simply by plugging it into your shoe.
An innovative energy harvesting and storage technology developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison mechanical engineers could reduce our reliance on the batteries in our mobile devices, ensuring we have power for our devices no matter where we are.
In a paper published Nov. 16, 2015, in the journal Scientific Reports, Tom Krupenkin, a professor of mechanical engineering at UW-Madison, and J. Ashley Taylor, a senior scientist in UW-Madison's Mechanical Engineering Department, described an energy-harvesting technology that's particularly well suited for capturing the energy of human motion to power mobile electronic devices.
The technology could enable a footwear-embedded energy harvester that captures energy produced by humans during walking and stores it for later use.
Read more:
Other News

Pioneers in green chemistry are warning that the development of new environmentally friendly, non-toxic chemicals is being hampered by a lack of training in toxicology and environmental mechanisms in US chemistry degree courses.
John Warner, president and chief technology officer of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry in Massachusetts, said at a 13 January briefing on Capitol Hill that most chemists are taught to synthesise molecules without considering their impacts on human health or the environment. He said it is wrong that 'part of their educational process isn't how to anticipate the negative impacts of those things'. The event was convened by the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council, which is a network of about 80 US companies invested in greening their supply chains.
'This is the weird aberration of the way the science of chemistry has evolved that someone else's problem is to worry about the toxicity and environmental impact,' Warner told the briefing attendees. Because most chemical companies have R&D budgets that are similar to their environmental compliance budgets, it makes sense for scientists to only invent non-toxic, benign chemical formulations, he suggested.
Adelina Voutchkova, an assistant chemistry professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC, agreed that there is a real dearth of chemists who understand the field of toxicology. Further, she said there is an even bigger scarcity of tools in the research sector that can be applied to innovating new chemicals, as opposed to discussing the relative toxicity of one chemical over another.

Imagine if your clothing could, on demand, release just enough heat to keep you warm and cozy, allowing you to dial back on your thermostat settings and stay comfortable in a cooler room. Or, picture a car windshield that stores the sun's energy and then releases it as a burst of heat to melt away a layer of ice.
According to a team of researchers at MIT, both scenarios may be possible before long, thanks to a new material that can store solar energy during the day and release it later as heat, whenever it's needed. This transparent polymer film could be applied to many different surfaces, such as window glass or clothing.
Although the sun is a virtually inexhaustible source of energy, it's only available about half the time we need it-during daylight. For the sun to become a major power provider for human needs, there has to be an efficient way to save it up for use during nighttime and stormy days. Most such efforts have focused on storing and recovering solar energy in the form of electricity, but the new finding could provide a highly efficient method for storing the sun's energy through a chemical reaction and releasing it later as heat.
The finding, by MIT professor Jeffrey Grossman, postdoc David Zhitomirsky, and graduate student Eugene Cho, is described in a paper in the journal Advanced Energy Materials. The key to enabling long-term, stable storage of solar heat, the team says, is to store it in the form of a chemical change rather than storing the heat itself. Whereas heat inevitably dissipates over time no matter how good the insulation around it, a chemical storage system can retain the energy indefinitely in a stable molecular configuration, until its release is triggered by a small jolt of heat (or light or electricity).

Cube specimen _a_ before and _b_ after unconfined compression test. Credit_ arXiv_1512.05461 _cond-mat.mtrl-sci_
Martian concrete made from materials only on the Red planet

( trio of researchers with Northwestern University has created a type of concrete made only from materials found on Mars, which suggests it could be used as a building material for those who make the journey to the Red planet sometime in the distant future. The trio, Lin Wan, Roman Wendner and Gianluca Cusatis, have written a paper describing their efforts and results and have posted it on the preprint server arXiv.

Many countries and consortiums have been looking into the possibility of not only sending humans to Mars, but of establishing a presence there-perhaps even building a permanent colony. But there are many obstacles that must be overcome first, one of which is figuring out how to build a place to live on the planet without having to carry the materials for it-a tricky problem when noting the barren terrain. In this new effort, the research trio looked into the possibility of making concrete out of only material available on Mars, and notably, without the need for water, which is always used to make concrete here on Earth.
The researchers drew on prior knowledge of sulfur which has been studied for many years as a possible building material and is readily available on Mars. The odorous material can be melted and formed into shapes, but past efforts have shown that the results tend to be weak due to bubbles that form in it and shrinkage that makes it difficult to make blocks of desired sizes. To address these issues, the researchers added material that was very nearly the same as Martian soil-a mixture of titanium dioxide, iron oxide, silicon dioxide, aluminum oxide and other components. They also added pressure to keep bubbles from forming inside as the material cured. They team tried multiple different mixes until they found the proportions that seemed to make for the best Martian concrete-equal parts soil and sulfur. They report that the strength of the concrete is more than sufficient for making buildings on Mars, particularly in light of less stress due to gravity. Other testing has shown that it would also be able to withstand environmental conditions or Mars, such as temperature extremes and atmospheric pressure. As an added bonus, the concrete could be melted down if needed and pressed into different shapes.

Read more at:

The Namib Desert Beetle lives in one of the hottest places in the world_ yet it still collects airborne water. Taking a page from the beetle_s playbook_ Virginia Tech biomedical engineers created a way to control condensation and frost growth. Credit_ Wikimedia Commons
Beetle-inspired discovery could reduce frost's costly sting

In a discovery that may lead to ways to prevent frost on airplane parts, condenser coils, and even windshields, a team of researchers led by Virginia Tech has used chemical micropatterns to control the growth of frost caused by condensation.
Writing in Jan. 22, 2016 Scientific Reports, an online journal from the publishers of Nature, the researchers describe how they used photolithography to pattern chemical arrays that attract water over top of a surface that repels water, thereby controlling or preventing the spread of frost.
The inspiration for the work came from an unlikely source -- the Namib Desert Beetle, which makes headlines because it lives in one of the hottest places in the world, yet it still collects airborne water.
The insect has a bumpy shell and the tips of the bumps attract moisture to form drops, but the sides are smooth and repel water, creating channels that lead directly to the beetle's mouth.

Gemstone mining, and subsequent treatment methods, are frequent topics in Thermo Fisher Scientific's Advancing Mining blog. But did you know that gemstones may be treated with polymers to fill surface-reaching cracks? The identification of treated gemstones is a major challenge; such treatments may be indistinguishable without skilled examination using Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)  or Raman spectroscopy.
An Introduction to Gem Treatments is an article on the GIA website that describes fracture or cavity filling as, "Filling surface-reaching fractures or cavities with a glass, resin, wax or oil to conceal their visibility and to improve the apparent clarity of gem materials, appearance, stability, or in extreme cases-to add to a slight amount of weight to a gem. The filling materials vary from being solids (a glass) to liquids (oils), and in most cases, they are colorless (colored filler materials could be classified as dyes)." The most common fracture-filled gems include diamonds, which are filled with glass, and emeralds, which can be filled with epoxy prepolymers, other prepolymers (including UV-setting adhesives), and polymers.
Impregnation is another technique described by GIA in which the surface of a porous gemstone is permeated with a polymer, wax or plastic to improve its durability and appearance. The most commonly encountered wax or plastic impregnated gemstones are opaque, and they include turquoise, lapis lazuli, jadeite, nephrite, amazonite, rhodochrosite and serpentine.

Advanced Manufacturing and Related topics
Gartner, Inc. has highlighted the top 10  Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that should be on every organization's radar through the next two years.
"The IoT demands an extensive range of new technologies and skills that many organizations have yet to master," said  Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "A recurring theme in the IoT space is the immaturity of technologies and services and of the vendors providing them. Architecting for this immaturity and managing the risk it creates will be a key challenge for organizations exploiting the IoT. In many technology areas, lack of skills will also pose significant challenges."
The technologies and principles of IoT will have a very broad impact on organizations, affecting business strategy, risk management and a wide range of technical areas such as architecture and network design. The top 10 IoT technologies for 2017 and 2018 are:

IoT Security
The IoT introduces a wide range of new security risks and challenges to the IoT devices themselves, their platforms and operating systems, their communications, and even the systems to which they're connected. Security technologies will be required to protect IoT devices and platforms from both information attacks and physical tampering, to encrypt their communications, and to address new challenges such as impersonating "things" or denial-of-sleep attacks that drain batteries. IoT security will be complicated by the fact that many "things" use simple processors and operating systems that may not support sophisticated security approaches.
"Experienced IoT security specialists are scarce, and security solutions are currently fragmented and involve multiple vendors," said Mr. Jones. "New threats will emerge through 2021 as hackers find new ways to attack IoT devices and protocols, so long-lived "things" may need updatable hardware and software to adapt during their life span."

IoT Analytics

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a_ Coated rods are arranged along a substrate_ like angled teeth on a comb. b_ The teeth are then interlaced. c_ When indium and galium come into contact_ they form a liquid. d_ The metal core of the rods turns that liquid into a solid. The resulting glue provides the strength and thermal_electrical conductance of a metal bond. From _Advanced Materials _ Processes__ January 2016
Perhaps no startup was launched for a more intriguing reason than that of Northeastern's Hanchen Huang. From the company website:

"MesoGlue was founded by Huang and two of his PhD students: They had a dream of a better way of sticking things together."
Those "things" are everything from a computer's central processing unit and a printed circuit board to the glass and metal filament in a light bulb. The "way" of attaching them is, astonishingly, a glue made out of metal that sets at room temperature and requires very little pressure to seal. "It's like welding or soldering but without the heat," says Huang, who is professor and chair in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
In a new paper, published in the January issue of Advanced Materials & Processes, Huang and colleagues, including Northeastern doctoral student Paul Elliott, describe their latest advances in the glue's development. Our curiosity was piqued: Soldering with no heat? We asked Huang to elaborate.
On new developments in the composition of the metallic glue:
"Both 'metal' and 'glue' are familiar terms to most people, but their combination is new and made possible by unique properties of metallic nanorods-infinitesimally small rods with metal cores that we have coated with the element indium on one side and galium on the other. These coated rods are arranged along a substrate like angled teeth on a comb: There is a bottom 'comb' and a top 'comb.' We then interlace the 'teeth.' When indium and galium touch each other, they form a liquid. The metal core of the rods acts to turn that liquid into a solid. The resulting glue provides the strength and thermal/electrical conductance of a metal bond. We recently received a new provisional patent for this development through Northeastern University."

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Copper printed using the researcher_s new method. Credit_ Ramille Shah and David Dunand

A team of Northwestern University engineers has created a new way to print three-dimensional metallic objects using rust and metal powders.

While current methods rely on vast metal powder beds and expensive lasers or electron beams, Northwestern's new technique uses liquid inks and common furnaces, resulting in a cheaper, faster, and more uniform process. The Northwestern team also demonstrated that the new method works for an extensive variety of metals, metal mixtures, alloys, and metal oxides and compounds.
"This is exciting because most advanced manufacturing methods being used for metallic printing are limited as far as which metals and alloys can be printed and what types of architecture can be created," said Ramille Shah, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and of surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the study. "Our method greatly expands the architectures and metals we're able to print, which really opens the door for a lot of different applications."
Conventional methods for 3-D printing metallic structures are both time and cost intensive. The process takes a very intense energy source, such as a focused laser or electron beam, that moves across a bed of metal powder, defining an object's architecture in a single layer by fusing powder particles together. New powder is placed on top on the previous layer, and these steps are repeated to create a 3-D object. Any unfused powder is subsequently removed, which prevents certain architectures, such as those that are hollow and enclosed, from being created. This method is also significantly limited by the types of compatible metals and alloys that can be used.

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A ceramic spiral created by the additive manufacturing process. Credit_ HRL Laboratories_ LLC
Ceramic materials offer many appealing qualities, including high-temperature stability, environmental resistance, and high strength. But unlike polymers and some metals, ceramic particles don't fuse together when heated. Thus, the few 3D printing techniques that have been developed for ceramics have slow production rates and involve additives that increase the material's tendency to crack.

At the at HRL Laboratories in Malibu, USA, Zak Eckel and colleagues were able to improve upon these processes. They used silicon- and oxygen-based polymers that, upon polymerization, trap the UV light so that additives aren't needed for the UV curing steps.
Once the polymer is printed, the part is heated to a high temperature to burn off the oxygen atoms, thus forming a highly dense and strong silicon carbide product. Using electron microscopy to analyze the end product, the researchers detected no porosity or surface cracks. Further tests revealed that the ceramic material can withstand temperatures of 1,400°C (2552°F) before experiencing cracking and shrinkage.
As the authors note these developments, which also create a more efficient ceramic-production process, hold important implications for numerous high-temperature applications, such as in hypersonic vehicles and jet engines.

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We all know that we need to hire the best and brightest and challenge them to be creative and help our companies gain a competitive edge. After all, a company is designed to provide valuable products and services to a customer base that keeps coming back because of the value received.
These best and brightest also have a new millennials' view of companies and their expectations-they don't expect to stay unless all their goals and aspirations are being met.  Their expectations may not be in alignment with companies that have been around for years.
In today's economy and infrastructure a new idea can blossom almost overnight and make millionaires or billionaire's of the owners, as well as the original staff that believed and made the miracle happen. Facebook, Google, Amazon and Elon Musk's ventures are recent examples which followed earlier icon examples like Microsoft and Apple.

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Tesla Fremont factory
It's been five years since the venture capitalist  Marc Andreessen quipped that "software is eating the world," meaning that all of the digital tools and platforms needed to transform industries through software finally worked and were doing that. To prove his point, Andreessen ticked off a long list of mostly consumer-facing service industries like bookselling, music, telecom, and air travel that were being productively disrupted. Though he noted that the global economy would soon be "fully digitally wired" he didn't have as much to say about the manufacturing sector.
However, waves of digitization have been coursing through the manufacturing sector as well, creating new opportunities. Digital technologies are rapidly transforming the design, production, operation, and use of items as diverse as cars, workout clothes, and light bulbs. The changes have huge implications for industries and places, workers, and entrepreneurs.
To explore these implications, the Metro Program, in partnership with the city of Fremont, Calif., convened its second advanced industries regional workshop last week in Silicon Valley-the world focal point for the digitization of everything.
Such digitization is now so ubiquitous as to practically define the nation's critical advanced industries sector, including manufacturing.
The session brought together two dozen industry executives, entrepreneurs, investors, scholars, and economic development officials to tour an emblematic factory ( Tesla Motors); discuss the latest trends in the Silicon Valley manufacturing ecosystem; and parse their implications for companies, regions, and the U.S. economy. Many, many trends were raised and assessed during the day's discussions on the campus of Seagate Technology, in the former Solyndra solar factory, but a short list of compelling conclusions with broad implications came into focus.

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Researchers are trying to develop an understanding of how using recycled concrete affects the behavior of reinforced concrete structures so that buildings using large amounts of recycled material can be designed for safety and to serve their intended purpose without undesirable consequences in performance.

  From paper towels to cups to plastic bottles, products made from recycled materials permeate our lives. One notable exception is building materials. Why can't we recycle concrete from our deteriorating infrastructure for use as material in new buildings and bridges? It's a question that a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame is examining.
"While concrete is the most commonly used construction material on earth, it is also the biggest in terms of environmental impact," said Yahya "Gino" Kurama, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences, who is leading the research effort. "Coarse aggregates, such as crushed rock and gravel, make up most of a given concrete volume. The mining, processing and transportation operations for these aggregates consume large amounts of energy and adversely affect the ecology of forested areas and riverbeds."

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Cambits comprises a set of colorful plastic blocks of five different types _ sensors_ light sources_ actuators_ lenses and optical attachments. The blocks can easily be assembled to make a variety of cameras with different functionalities. Courtesy of Shree Nayar_Columbia Engineering

  Computer Science Professor Shree Nayar and Makoto Odamaki, a visiting scientist from Ricoh Corporation, have developed Cambits, a modular imaging system that enables the user to create a wide range of computational cameras. Cambits comprises a set of colorful plastic blocks of five different types - sensors, light sources, actuators, lenses and optical attachments. The blocks can easily be assembled to make a variety of cameras with different functionalities such as high dynamic range imaging, panoramic imaging, refocusing, light field imaging, depth imaging using stereo, kaleidoscopic imaging and even microscopy.
"We wanted to redefine what we mean by a camera," says Nayar, who is the T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering and a pioneer in the field of computational imaging. "Traditional cameras are really like black boxes that take one type of image. We wanted to rethink the instrument, to come up with a hardware and software system that is modular, reconfigurable and able to capture all kinds of images. We see Cambits as a wonderful way to unleash the creativity in all of us."

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Hyproline schematic. _Image courtesy of TNO._

How does additive manufacturing (AM) fit into manufacturing?
It's a controversial subject: some suggest that the 3D printing hype has peaked, while others argue that 3D printing and manufacturing go hand-in-hand. For now, the role of 3D printing in manufacturing is still unclear, although there does seem to be a growing consensus that hybrid additive manufacturing technology will become more common.
The European Union (EU) has successfully concluded the Hyproline additive manufacturing initiative and the results are impressive to say the least. The initiative's goal was to build a working demonstration of a high-performance AM production line for small metal parts.
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In order to compete and win in today's global marketplace, innovation-driven companies have to find ways to create and develop products and services faster than ever before. Going outside their own four walls to source ideas and solutions in order to expedite the time-to-market cycle - commonly known as open innovation (OI) - has become a widely accepted and applied strategy for companies ranging from global chemical producers and automotive giants, to bioengineering and pharmaceutical companies, sports equipment, consumer and packaged goods makers - even state governments and the National Football League.
In the past, many organizations used open innovation as a "fix" when their R&D bench hit a roadblock or ran out of time.  Or there may have been a lone ranger in the department that went outside to source solutions - but only for his or her particular product line.  These situations required a modicum of transparency.  The seeking organization had to share enough detail about the desired solution to generate high-quality submissions from outside engineers, technologists, inventors, and research laboratories.  
Increasingly, though, significant players in their industries such as General Electric, Mondelēz International, Johnson Controls and Siemens have incorporated OI as a core process - not just for discrete situations.  Instead of cracking the doors to R&D just enough to allow the rest of the world to peek in, they've flung them wide open.  As a result, innovation flows through their organizations and powers them forward on a daily basis.  How did they get comfortable with being so transparent?  What did they realize that many of their competitors do not?

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Photonic and Electronic Materials & Devices
Scientists Extend the Reach of Single Crystals   
Himanshu Jain is one of the paper_s four authors.
Materials scientists and physicists at Lehigh University have demonstrated a new method of making single crystals that could enable a wider range of materials to be used in microelectronics, solar energy devices and other high-technology applications.

The researchers reported their discovery Friday, March 18, in Scientific Reports, a Nature journal, in an article titled "Demonstration of single crystal growth via solid-solid transformation of a glass."

The breakthrough, said the researchers, opens the way for glasses and other solid materials with disordered atomic structures to be made in single-crystal form as is silicon, the world's leading semiconductor material.
In single-crystal form, the solids would possess the superior properties required in high-tech applications. These applications, the researchers said, include lasers and light-emitting diodes (LEDS), in which epitaxial-growth layering of extremely thin single-crystal films on a substrate is used to make semiconductor devices.
Single crystals of silicon are grown through melting, said Himanshu Jain, one of the paper's four authors. But melting causes many other highly useful materials to decompose or change decomposition and lose their utility.

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Photo_ Cornell University
Researchers at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., may have found a way to bring the long-moribund prospects of rechargeable lithium-metal batteries back from the dead with a novel nanostructured membrane that could make the batteries both safe and efficient.
In research described in the journal Nature Communications, the Cornell researchers looked anew at the problem that has been plaguing the prospects of rechargeable lithium-metal batteries: growths, referred to as dendrites, that over time branch out of the anode, into the electrolyte, and eventually expand to the point where they actually bridge the gap between the two electrodes and cause the battery to short out-or even worse.
This phenomenon has been extremely frustrating because  lithium metal in the anodes of rechargeable batteries has been described as the holy grail material in lithium-based batteries. Its substantial benefits include tremendous specific capacity. A Li-metal anode battery's capacity could be as high as 3,860 milliampere-hours per gram, whereas a typical Li-ion battery with graphite on the anode tops out at around 380 mAh/g.

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While low-light imaging typically involves a race for better image sensor pixel design or the search for new photo-conversion materials with better light sensitivity_ engineers from the University of Wisconsin_Madison have found their inspiration in nature to design a unique optical lens that dramatically increases the overall light input to a sensor.
The inspiration came from a combination of the Lobster's superposition compound eyes and the retinal structure of the small elephantnose fish, the later featuring thousands of crystalline cups covering its inner retina.
In a paper titled "Artificial eye for scotopic vision with bioinspired all-optical photosensitivity enhancer", the researchers unveil an optical lens made out of thousands of micro-photocollectors (μ-PCs), each consisting of a tiny glass pillar with parabolic reflective sidewalls that focus the faint incoming light through a tiny output port.
The micro-photocollectors are arranged on a dome-shaped structure, so as to mimic the lobster's superposition compound eye where multiple light input ports concentrate the incoming light onto individual sensor pixels.
Using this unique lens, the researchers reported a four-fold improvement in light sensitivity when imaging objects in what could be described as pitch-black darkness.
To manufacture the minuscule parabolic side-walled μ-PCs only about 120μm tall, the engineers relied on a hybrid laser ablation process.
UW_Madison engineering Professor Hongrui Jiang describes the fabrication process for an artificial eye that makes better use of very dim light than any other optical sensor. Image courtesy Stephanie Precourt

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Larry Lu _left__ and Jiong Yang with the lens shown on screen _Credit_ Stuart Hay_ ANU_
Scientists have created the world's thinnest lens, one two-thousandth the thickness of a human hair, opening the door to flexible computer displays and a revolution in miniature cameras. 
Lead researcher Yuerui (Larry) Lu from The Australian National University, who holds a doctorate in Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the discovery hinged on the remarkable potential of the molybdenum disulphide crystal.
"This type of material is the perfect candidate for future flexible displays," said Lu, leader of Nano-Electro-Mechanical System (NEMS) Laboratory in the ANU Research School of Engineering.
"We will also be able to use arrays of micro lenses to mimic the compound eyes of insects."
The 6.3-nanometre lens outshines previous ultra-thin flat lenses, made from 50-nanometre thick gold nano-bar arrays, known as a metamaterial.

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Microstructured Thin FIlms and Coatings

When cracks form_ microbeads embedded in the material break open and cause a chemical reaction that highlights the damaged area. Source_ Image courtesy Nancy Sottos
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.
The early warning system would be particularly useful in applications like petroleum pipelines, air and space transport, and automobiles - applications where one part's failure could have costly ramifications that are difficult to repair. Led by U. of I. materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos and aerospace engineering professor Scott White, the researchers published their work in the journal Advanced Materials.
"Polymers are susceptible to damage in the form of small cracks that are often difficult to detect. Even at small scales, crack damage can significantly compromise the integrity and functionality of polymer materials," Sottos said. "We developed a very simple but elegant material to autonomously indicate mechanical damage."
The researchers embedded tiny microcapsules of a pH-sensitive dye in an epoxy resin. If the polymer forms cracks or suffers a scratch, stress or fracture, the capsules break open. The dye reacts with the epoxy, causing a dramatic color change from light yellow to a bright red - no additional chemicals or activators required.
The deeper the scratch or crack, the more microcapsules are broken, and the more intense the color. This helps to assess the extent of the damage. Even so, tiny microscopic cracks of only 10 micrometers are enough to cause a color change, letting the user know that the material has lost some of its structural integrity.

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A sample of the new fabric in reflected light. _Image courtesy of the researchers_ Read more_ Physicists get a perfect material for air filters
(Nanowerk News) A research team from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences have synthesized the material that is perfect for protection of respiratory organs, analytical research and other practical purposes. An almost weightless fabric made of nylon nanofibers with a diameter less than 15 nm beats any other similar materials in terms of filtering and optical properties.
The scientists whose work is published in Macromolecular Nanotechnology Journal ("Filtering and optical properties of free standing electrospun nanomats from nylon-4,6"), characterize their material as lightweight (10-20 mg/m2), almost invisible (95% light transmission: more than that of a window glass), showing low resistance to airflow and efficient interception of <1 micrometer fine particulate matter.
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A tunable laser creates a miniature library of nanoporous gold. Image by Ryan Chen_LLNL.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have created a library of nanoporous gold structures on a single chip that has direct applications for high-capacity lithium ion batteries as well as neural interfaces.
Nanoporous gold (np-Au), a porous metal used in energy and biomedical research, is produced through an alloy corrosion process known as dealloying that generates a characteristic three-dimensional nanoscale network of pores and ligaments.
In the cover article in the Jan. 14 issue of  Nanoscale(link is external), a journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, LLNL researchers and their University of California,  Davis(link is external) collaborators describe a method for creating a library of varying np-Au morphologies on a single chip via precise delivery of tunable laser energy. UC Davis professor Erkin Seker served as the principal investigator (PI) of the UC Fees project that primarily funded the work, along with co-PI  Monika Biener of LLNL's Materials Science Division.
Laser microprocessing (e.g. micromachining) provides spatial and temporal control while imposing energy near the surface of the material.
"Traditional heat application techniques for the modification of np-Au are bulk processes that cannot be used to generate a library of different pore sizes on a single chip," said LLNL staff scientist  Ibo Matthews, co-author of the paper. "Laser microprocessing offers an attractive solution to this problem by providing a means to apply energy with high spatial and temporal resolution."
The researchers used multiphysics simulations to predict the effects of continuous wave vs. pulsed laser mode and varying thermal conductivity of the supporting substrate on the local np-Au film temperatures during photothermal annealing.

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Formation of pores or voids in a material often lowers its load-bearing ability. The strengths (largest force per unit cross-sectional area) of conventional foam or porous materials are usually significantly lower than that of the fully-dense counterpart. Recently, a research group from Institute of Metal Research (IMR), Chinese Academy of Science report that introducing voids into a material does not necessarily decrease its strength. Instead, they found that a metallic material can become lighter and meanwhile ~7 times stronger, while about half of its component (volume percentage) was removed by corrosion and replaced with pore space. The corrosion involved in their study is called dealloying, during which the more-active components in the parent alloy are selectively dissolved and less-active elements are left behind as corrosion product. If the composition of the parent alloy lies in a proper region, the corrosion product (namely, nanoporous metal) can retain the outer-dimensions of the parent alloy and obtain a nanoscale porous structure in the interior, which is analog to an inter-connected network of metal nanowires. Because the nanowires can gain near theoretical strength, the nanoporous metals are supposed to have high strengths. But experimental realization of high strength in nanoporous metals was hindered by the formation of high density cracks during corrosion and the poor stability of the obtained nanoporous structure against coarsening. The IMR group suppressed the structure coarsening by adding very small amount of Pt to the AuAg parent alloy prior to dealloying, and prevented the cracking by carrying out the corrosion under a proper electrochemical condition. With this approach, they successfully fabricated crack-free nanoporous Au(Pt) samples with stable, fine porous structure (4-6 nm), which are remarkably strong. Their strengths (as large as 345 MPa) are much higher than conventional porous metals, and even much higher than that of the parent alloy (~ 50 MPa) prior to dealloying, although about half of the component (Ag) in the material has been corroded. In other words, the corrosion has led to ~ 50% reduction in relative density and meanwhile a seven-fold increase in strength, and consequently an enhancement of the specific strength (strength to weight ratio) by more than one order of magnitude.
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 Metals smart enough to save gas
David Weiss (left) and Simon Beno oversee production of a metal composite at Eck Industries in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The foundry will supply their startup, Intelligent Composites. Credit: UWM Photo/Troye Fox  

Imagine engines that conserve fuel by automatically dialing down internal friction, water pipes that seal their own cracks and iPhones that protect themselves when dropped. Metallurgist Pradeep Rohatgi has - and he invented the futuristic materials necessary to build these smart products.
For 40 years, Rohatgi has been steadily creating metal matrix composites, which combine standard metal alloys with completely different classes of material - ceramics, nanoparticles and even recycled waste - to give them "smart" qualities.
For all their potential, most of Rohatgi's creations sat on the shelf for decades. But a flourishing entrepreneurial culture at UW-Milwaukee, the right partners and a national push for conservation and energy independence convinced him to make the leap into the commercial sphere. He's doing so with a product line made using a self-lubricating composite, one he believes will cut friction in internal combustion engines significantly, saving gas while reducing emissions.

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Characterization of Advanced Materials
The stretchable_ transparent heater could be used to warm the human body _where the black wrist strap can control temperature_ or to defrost car mirrors. Credit_ Byeong Wan An_ et al. _2015 American Chemical Society
( have fabricated a stretchable and transparent electrode that can be used for applications such as heating parts of the body and defrosting the side view mirrors on cars. It is the first stretchable electronics device made from metallic glass, which is a metal that has an amorphous (disordered) structure like that of a glass, instead of the highly ordered crystalline structure that metals normally have.

The researchers, led by Ju-Young Kim and Jang-Ung Park at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, have published a paper on the new stretchable, transparent heating devices in a recent issue of Nano Letters.
While metallic glasses have been around since the 1960s, they have not been widely commercialized. Part of the problem is that they are expensive and the processing can be difficult, but part of reason for the lack of commercialization is also because the materials are still looking for an ideal application. So far they have been explored for use as cell phone casings, surgical instruments, and golf clubs, among others, but none of these areas has achieved great commercial success.
The new study shows that metallic glasses have several properties that make them appealing for wearable electronics. Some of these properties include inherent flexibility, transparency, and stability under hot and humid conditions.
"We think that the ductile properties of metallic glasses are well-suited for stretchable, transparent electrodes and heaters," Park told

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IBM scientist Fabian Menges poses with his invention.
The IBM lab responsible for inventing the scanning tunneling microscope and the atomic force microscope has invented another critical tool for helping us understand the nanoworld.

Accurately measuring the  temperature of objects at the nanoscale has been challenging scientists for decades. Current techniques are not accurate and they typically generate artifacts, limiting their reliability.
Motivated by this challenge and their need to precisely characterize the temperature of new transistor designs to  meet the demand of future cognitive computers, scientists in Switzerland from IBM and ETH Zurich have invented a breakthrough technique to measure the temperature of nano- and macro-sized objects. The patent-pending invention is being disclosed for the first time today in the peer-review journal Nature Communications, "Temperature mapping of operating nanoscale devices by scanning probe thermometry."

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Just in time for the icy grip of winter: A team of researchers led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has identified several mechanisms that make a new, cold-loving material one of the toughest metallic alloys ever.
The alloy is made of chromium, manganese, iron, cobalt and nickel, so scientists call it CrMnFeCoNi. It's exceptionally tough and strong at room temperature, which translates into excellent ductility, tensile strength, and resistance to fracture. And unlike most materials, the alloy becomes tougher and stronger the colder it gets, making it an intriguing possibility for use in cryogenic applications such as storage tanks for liquefied natural gas.
To learn its secrets, the Berkeley Lab-led team studied the alloy with transmission electron microscopy as it was subjected to strain. The images revealed several nanoscale mechanisms that activate in the alloy, one after another, which together resist the spread of damage. Among the mechanisms are bridges that form across cracks to inhibit their propagation. Such crack bridging is a common toughening mechanism in composites and ceramics but not often seen in unreinforced metals.
Their findings could guide future research aimed at designing metallic materials with unmatched damage tolerance. The research appears in the December 9, 2015, issue of the journal Nature Communications.
"We analyzed the alloy in earlier work and found spectacular properties: high toughness and strength, which are usually mutually exclusive in a material," says Robert Ritchie, a scientist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division who led the research with Qian Yu of China's Zhejiang University and several other scientists.
"So in this research, we used TEM to study the alloy at the nanoscale to see what's going on," says Ritchie.
In materials science, toughness is a material's resistance to fracture, while strength is a material's resistance to deformation. It's very rare for a material to be both highly tough and strong, but CrMnFeCoNi isn't a run-of-the-mill alloy. It's a star member of a new class of alloys developed about a decade ago that contains five or more elements in roughly equal amounts. In contrast, most conventional alloys have one dominant element. These new multi-component alloys are called high-entropy alloys because they consist primarily of a simple solid solution phase, and therefore have a high entropy of mixing.

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NIST _ ORNL scientists have devised a near-field microwave imaging approach to capture images of nanoscale processes under natural conditions. _Credit_ Kolmakov_CNST_
U.S. government nanotechnology researchers have demonstrated a new window to view what are now mostly clandestine operations occurring in soggy, inhospitable realms of the nanoworld-technologically and medically important processes that occur at boundaries between liquids and solids, such as in batteries or along cell membranes.

The new microwave imaging approach trumps X-ray and electron-based methods that can damage delicate samples and muddy results. And it spares expensive equipment from being exposed to liquids, while eliminating the need to harden probes against corrosive, toxic, or other harmful environments.
Writing in the journal ACS Nano, the collaborators-from the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)-describe their new approach to imaging reactive and biological samples at nanoscale levels under realistic conditions.

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The images show a liver cell before and after processing the data with the software developed at Bielefeld University. _Credit_ Bielefeld University_
With their special microscopes, experimental physicists can already observe single molecules. However, unlike conventional light microscopes, the raw image data from some ultra-high resolution instruments first have to be processed for an image to appear. For the ultra-high resolution fluorescence microscopy that is also employed in biophysical research at Bielefeld University, members of the Biomolecular Photonics Group have developed a new open source software solution that can process such raw data quickly and efficiently. The Bielefeld physicist Dr. Marcel Müller reports on this new open source software in the latest issue of Nature Communications published on 21 March. 

Conventional light microscopy can attain only a defined lower resolution limit that is restricted by light diffraction to roughly 1/4 of a micrometre. High resolution fluorescence microscopy makes it possible to obtain images with a resolution markedly below these physical limits. The physicists Stefan Hell, Eric Betzig, and William Moerner were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2014 for developing this important key technology for biomedical research. Currently, one of the ways in which researchers in this domain are trying to attain a better resolution is by using structured illumination. At present, this is one of the most widespread procedures for representing and presenting dynamic processes in living cells. This method achieves a resolution of 100 nanometres with a high frame rate while simultaneously not damaging the specimens during measurement. Such high resolution fluorescence microscopy is also being applied and further developed in the Biomolecular Photonics Group at Bielefeld's Faculty of Physics. For example, it is being used to study the function of the liver or the ways in which the HI virus spreads.

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Chemical Engineering
ORNL_s tough new plastic is made with 50 percent renewable content from biomass. _Credit_ Oak Ridge National Laboratory_ U.S. Dept. of Energy_ conceptual art by Mark Robbins_

Your car's bumper is probably made of a moldable thermoplastic polymer called ABS, shorthand for its acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene components. Light, strong and tough, it is also the stuff of ventilation pipes, protective headgear, kitchen appliances, Lego bricks and many other consumer products. Useful as it is, one of its drawbacks is that it is made using chemicals derived from petroleum.
Now, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have made a better thermoplastic by replacing styrene with lignin, a brittle, rigid polymer that, with cellulose, forms the woody cell walls of plants. In doing so, they have invented a solvent-free production process that interconnects equal parts of nanoscale lignin dispersed in a synthetic rubber matrix to produce a meltable, moldable, ductile material that's at least ten times tougher than ABS. The resulting thermoplastic-called ABL for acrylonitrile, butadiene, lignin-is recyclable, as it can be melted three times and still perform well. The results, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, may bring cleaner, cheaper raw materials to diverse manufacturers.

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Biomaterials and Biotechnology
A scanning electron micrograph of polymer coatings based of poly(HEMA) poly(MeOEGMA) poly(HPMA) and poly(CBAA) exposed to citrated human blood and blood components - erythrocytes, PRP, and leukocytes. Gold surface was utilized as a reference hydrophobic substrate. 120x100 um2.

Researchers from Germany and the Czech Republic have shown that the  surface modification of polymer brushes reduces fouling and adhesion of whole blood, blood plasma or blood cells.
A major problem of all artificial/synthetic medical devices incorporated to the human bloodstream such as catheters, stents, vascular grafts, heart valves, artificial kidneys is that they can contribute to serious post implantation health problems. Blood, with its soluble proteins, interacts with the surface of the devices and produces fouling. This fouling can cause thromboembolic complications, which can finally result in lethal complications. Therefore designing coatings with anti-fouling properties on artificial medical devises is a major aim in research. The focus to prevent fouling is nowadays on polymer brushes instead of ultra-thin polymer coatings. The researchers grew four different well-defined ultra-thin polymer brushes on a gold surface. These substrates coated with different polymer brushes were than tested for resistance to fouling. Therefore, the surface was in contact with different blood cells, platelet rich plasma, and with whole blood.

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The Virtue of Failed Experiments
How a professor's visit to a pediatric burn ward led to an unlikely breakthrough.

The fascinating  video above tells the story of MIT Professor  Ioannis Yannas, who was recently inducted into the  National Inventor's Hall of Fame alongside such luminaries as the Wright brothers and Steve Jobs. He's there because, in the 1970s, he discovered a way to make human skin regenerate, an innovation that revolutionized the treatment of burn victims. The breakthrough, as it happens, was the direct result of a failed experiment.
Shortly after Yannas, then a young assistant professor of materials, met the now-late surgeon  Dr. John Burke in 1969, the two shared a heartbreaking visit to Burke's pediatric burn ward at  Shriners Burns Institute in Boston. The experience had a profound impact on Yannas. Burke's immediate problem was repairing burn victims' skin-bandages were simply incapable of sealing large, damaged areas-and patients with extensive burns often died. Yannas and Burke decided to see if they could develop a bandage that would more quickly close wounds help them heal.
A range of synthetic and natural materials they tested on animals failed to speed up the scarring process. When a final test with collagen polymers actually made healing slow down, the baffled scientists decided to dig in and figure out why.
What they discovered-"a big surprise, totally unexpected, and hard to believe," Yannas says now-was that while scars weren't forming as they hoped, test animals were actually growing new skin. They hesitated to publish their results, afraid no one would believe them. Dr. Burke started developing what's now the standard method for treating large-area burn victims with their artificial skin  Integra.

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Body temperature triggers newly developed polymer to change shape
A time-lapse photo of a new shape-memory polymer reverting to its original shape after being exposed to body temperature. Credit_ Adam Fenster_University of Rochester  
Polymers that visibly change shape when exposed to temperature changes are nothing new. But a research team led by Chemical Engineering Professor Mitch Anthamatten at the University of Rochester created a material that undergoes a shape change that can be triggered by body heat alone, opening the door for new medical and other applications.
The material developed by Anthamatten and graduate student Yuan Meng is a type of shape-memory polymer, which can be programmed to retain a temporary shape until it is triggered-typically by heat-to return to its original shape.
"Tuning the trigger temperature is only one part of the story," said Anthamatten. "We also engineered these materials to store large amount of elastic energy, enabling them to perform more mechanical work during their shape recovery"
The findings are being published this week in the Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics.

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If you used any instruments in the Materials Science Center, Soft Materials Laboratory, or the Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronics, please remember to acknowledge MRSEC funded instruments and facilities in any publications (DMR-1121288). This will serve as a metric for how often MRSEC funded instruments are used and will help continue MRSEC support in future years. Thanks! If you have any questions, please contact Felix Lu .

In This Issue
Quick Links
Core facilities

The Soft Materials Lab

The Soft Materials Lab, housed in the basement of Engineering Hall, has a wide spectrum of instruments for characterizing soft materials.  The lab  is managed by Anna Kiyanova who is available to answer all of your characterization questions. Some of the instrumentation in the SML is listed below:

Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC)

Dynamic Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

Thermo-Gravimetric Analyzer (TGA)

Dynamical Mechanical Analyzer (DMA)


FTIR, PM-IRRAS, Fast Mapping Raman, Spin coater, Environmental SEM, Filmetrics F20 Reflectometer, Oxygen Plasma Asher, Contact Angle imager, atmospheric & vacuum ovens

Anna Kiyanova
(608) 263-1735

  The Materials Science Center (MSC)

The Materials Science Center has a wide spectrum of electron, optical and physical charaterization instruments, some of which are listed below. The MSC is fully staffed with highly experienced instrument expertise to help you with your sample characterization and data interpretation.


(S)TEMs with EDS/EELS & Cryo Capable

Atom Probe

XPS with Cluster Gun


Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope

Raman Microscope with multiple excitation sources


ZYGO optical Profilometer


Tabletop SEM

UV-VIS spectrometer



Sample Preparation facilities

sputter coaters/ion mills


Dr. Jerry Hunter
(608) 263-1073

The WCAM is a full spectrum micro/nano fabrication facility for processing and integrating devices in Silicon, III-V, group four, glass, plastic, materials. On site, fully-qualified and highly experienced staff are available to help you with your process development and answer questions. Processing capabilities include:

Photo/nanoimprint Lithography

wet/dry etching

metal /dielectric deposition

dielectric film growth

MEMS processing (critical point drying, wafer bonding and alignment, etc.)

packaging (wire bonding, die attach, dicing, curing)

Dan Christensen
(608) 262-6877

Wisconsin GEO-Science materials characterization facility

The materials characterization facility in the Geology dept has some complementary instrumentation along with materials experts to help you with your charaterization and sample prep challenges! A partial list of instruments is listed below:

Electron Microprobe Analysis
XRD (with Cobalt source)

and many more!

Dr. John Fournelle
Dept of Geology & Geophysics
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1215 W. Dayton St
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 262-7964 (office) 265-4798 (lab) 262-0693 (fax)  

DIY Science

Science Cafes

What is a science café?

Science cafés are live grassroots events held in casual settings like coffeehouses and pubs that are open to everyone, organized locally and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist on a particular topic. Science cafés have been held in communities across the globe for years.

To learn more, visit  

Who should attend?
Everyone! S cience cafés are free and open to the public.
No prior scientific knowledge is needed, so anybody can participate.
What would I do at a science café?
Science cafés start with a presentation by a scientist or group of scientists about the evening's topic. Then the conversation about the topic begins. A science café is not a formal lecture-audience members are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the discussion.

Hands-on laboratory experiences are not just for kids! Each month, a different activity encourages adult (18+) audiences to put on lab coats, goggles and gloves and get a firsthand sense of cutting-edge research.

Usually held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday evenings, these do-it-yourself labs feature different topics ranging from epigenetics to microfluidics to nanotechnology to rapid prototyping and beyond.

Saturday Science at Discovery is supported by   Morgridge Institute for Research, UW-Madison and   WARF.

Student tour groups of your facility
Industrial facilities tours?
Are you interested in showing off your facility to interested student groups? Do you want to increase exposure of what your company does to encourage higher application rates and get student interns? Hosting a tour might be a good start! Please contact Felix Lu or Erin Gill to initiate this!

Using our campus facilities
The Practical Side of Things
Optical filters can have a dramatic effect on outcomes in life sciences. These principles demonstrate how next-generation thin film enhances excitation and emission in fluorescence bioimaging systems.
Sophisticated optical instrumentation facilitates advanced bioimaging, and high-performance optical filtering improves fluorescence detection systems. Because proper optical filtering boosts throughput and enables wide-scale blocking, it solves problems like increasing the sensitivity of a system to detect infinitesimally small fluorescent signals emitted from biological samples. Too much light can lead to overexposure at the sensor, thus masking the signal-the filter helps to remove unwanted light so that the fluorescence response can be identified and measured. In fact, filters are arguably the most important element defining system performance for fluorescence detection. And thanks to manufacturing innovation, they can do so at competitive price points. Let's take a look at some important concepts in optical filtering and how they can improve outcomes in biomedical research.

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See this blog on "Producing Polymers and Plastics", which is sponsored by ThermoFisher Scientific (an AMIC member!)

Spraying automotive paints and coatings, and the application of paper coatings, are typical examples of industrial processes where the characterization of elongational properties is essential to optimizing product properties or production processes. Elongation flows occur in many industrial production and working processes where product flows experience cross sectional changes or are diverted.
Paints and coatings are usually highly structured fluids that consist of several different components, including additives that can be used to modify the surface tension, optimize the thixotropic behavior, or improve finished appearance of the paint film. All these components contribute to the flow behavior of the final paint product.

Plastic is a leading material in the production and packaging of intermediate and finished goods. Few industries do not use plastics in their products, while consumers encounter plastics every day in the form of packaging, building/construction, transportation vehicles, medical equipment, scientific instruments, institutional products, furniture and furnishings, electronics, and apparel. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that "in 2013, the United States generated about 14 million tons of plastics as containers and packaging, about 12 million tons as durable goods such as appliances, and almost 7 million tons as nondurable goods, such as plates and cups." Here is a brief overview of the most widely used plastics.

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Hot Dip Galvanizing _HDG_ Line with Cold Gauge and Hot Gauge measurements

Spraying automotive paints and coatings, and the application of paper coatings, are typical examples of industrial processes where the characterization of elongational properties is essential to optimizing product properties or production processes. Elongation flows occur in many industrial production and working processes where product flows experience cross sectional changes or are diverted.
Paints and coatings are usually highly structured fluids that consist of several different components, including additives that can be used to modify the surface tension, optimize the thixotropic behavior, or improve finished appearance of the paint film. All these components contribute to the flow behavior of the final paint product.

Proper coating of metal parts is an essential manufacturing step in the the automotive, aerospace, medical device industries. Paint, primer and organic coatings are applied to steel, galvanized steel, or aluminum strip to not only improve the appearance, strength, and durability of the metals but to help ensure that appropriate film thickness specifications are met so that the finished pieces function as intended and fit properly with other parts. Coil coating lines can benefit from online thickness coating gauges for applications including:
  • Weldable primer coatings with zinc particles applied to chromated or galvanized steel
  • Ultra-thin coatings
  • Wet measurement directly after the coaters
  • Dry measurement made after drying ovens
  • Chromate-free coatings for corrosion protection
  • Oil and anti-fingerprint coatings
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The growth in popularity and acceptance of Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometers for use in quality assurance (QA) laboratories and on manufacturing floors is one of the major developments affecting industrial environments in recent years. FT-IR spectroscopy offers almost unlimited analytical opportunities in many areas of production and quality control. It covers a wide range of chemical applications, especially in the analysis of organic compounds. In addition to its more classical role in qualitative analysis, its use in quantitative determinations has grown due to the improvements in signal-to-noise performance coupled with the development of advanced statistical analysis algorithms. Thanks to its compact design and ruggedness, the instrumentation can be located in the analytical laboratory or near the production line. Low cost, speed, and ease of analysis make FT-IR a method of choice for many industrial applications, including the analysis of polymeric materials.

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Any number of medical, industrial and analytical applications requires the detection of light. Chemiluminescence, bioluminescence, fluorescence and atomic absorption are just a few, and all require a detector to convert the light into an electrical signal. There are four basic technologies that accomplish this task: photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs), avalanche photodiodes (APDs), and silicon photodiodes.
The question of which detector to use is not a simple one. In applications where there is ample light, a photodiode is suitable. A PMT is the best choice where there are very weak signals. In other applications, however, the choice is not so clear. This article will examine detector characteristics, criteria for selection of a detector and amplifier performance, and hopefully, help you to choose.
Detector options
The PMT (Figure 1) consists of a photosensitive surface (photocathode), electron multipliers (dynodes), and a collection electrode (anode) within an evacuated glass or metal envelope. Light enters the input window and is absorbed by the photocathode. An electron is emitted from the cathode and accelerated to the first dynode by an applied voltage. The electron is accelerated to sufficient potential that, when it collides with a dynode, secondary electrons are produced. These secondary electrons are in turn accelerated to the next dynode, with the process being repeated until the electron cloud is collected at the anode.

Material Matters      Vol. 10, No. 2 - Graphene and Carbon Nanomaterials, from Sigma-Aldrich


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