September 6th, 2016
Erin Gill and Felix Lu 
ctors' message: 

Happy new year! We hope you had a few days off to relax and indulge in family, friends and food!

Erin has been heavily involved in the MRSEC renewal proposal (submitted in early December).
Thanks for being a member! Your membership  and participation in our events makes the community stronger, and makes us look good in the eyes of the National Science Foundation, who funds the MRSEC.

We are happy to announce the winners of the AMIC seed awards! Dr. Mehrdad Arjmand (Advised by Prof. Max Lagally, MSE); April Yu and Nolan Urbanek (Advised by Prof. Mikhail Kats, ECE); and Yang Liao and Shu-Ching Yang (Advised by Prof. Xuejun Pan, Biological Systems Engineering). See below for more details.  

We have new instrumentation coming into the College of Engineeing shared facilities this year! Find out more at the Facilities day open house - Tuesday, February 21st, 2017, at Varsity Hall in Union South. See below for more details.

Also - Save the date, Sept 7th, 2016 - AMIC Annual meeting, to be held at Union South.

Not only do these events allow you to familiarize yourselves with innovation enabling instrumentation, but to interact with faculty and students to further your innovation goals. Through this networking, you begin to discover who communicates well, works superbly with your team members, and is basically a talent amplifier - driving their team mates to be better engineers, scientists and business leaders.  These common factors are discussed a in variety of articles (below) on how and why industry should deeply tap into university resources in order to maintain a competitive and technological edge. "The number one reason for harboring more industry-university relations, in my opinion, would be to support innovation that, in turn, would stimulate greater economic growth for its society," -Joy Goswami, assistant director at the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnership at the University of Delaware.

Networking builds personal relationships, and relationships with proper nurturing, builds trust. With trust, curiosity, and innovative problem solving comes the foundation for a strong economic engine which benefits not only your company, but the region, as well as the universities and how we are viewed through political goggles.

To get things started, UW Madison and the UW system as a whole are highly ranked by many global metrics and posses a plethora of resources just waiting to be discovered.  Let us help you find them. 
Best regards,

Felix Lu, and Erin Gill
AMIC, Co-Directors

As always, if you have questions, suggestions or comments, please let us know!
Upcoming Events

UW Madison -
College of Engineering Shared Facilities
GeoSciences Shared Facilities

The 2017 Facilities Day Open House is the 3rd annual showcase of core facilities within the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus with a focus on instru-mentation and resources for materials research. This event is hosted by the College of Engineering Shared Facilities, the Department of Geoscience Research Facilities, and the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education.
Learn about current and future instrumentation coming to the CoE facilities and the capabilities of instrumentation in Geosciences. Lab directors will describe current capabilities and access to them. Company representatives will demo/discuss :
  • Focused Ion Beam-Scanning Electron Microscopy (FIB-SEM)
  • Electron Beam Lithography (EBL)
  • Time-of-flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (TOF-SIMS)
Interact with potential future employees and/or interns! Attend a student research & campus facility poster session and tour CoE and Geosciences facilities.
The purpose of this event is to increase awareness of the multitude of materials research instrumentation and other resources available on campus both to maintain efficient interactions among departments as well as to increase industrial interaction with students and campus resources.


Mark your calendars!

AMIC Annual meeting -

Thursday, Sept 7th, 2017 @Union South, Varsity Hall 
AMIC Seed Program Winners

The AMIC seed program

This Seed Program is intended to be an opportunity for graduate students and/or postdocs to gain experience working on projects of potential interest to industry. Participants will get an inside look at problems/challenges facing industry, and develop solutions. Participants will also gain experience in funded research from proposal development to final reporting.

Dr. Mehrdad Arjmand next to his MBE machine in Professor Lagally's lab.
Dr. Mehrdad Armand (Advised by Prof. Max Lagally) -
 "Fabrication of a Novel Functionalized Meso-Porous Material from Cellulose and Biomass for Heavy Metal Ion and Formaldehyde Gas Adsorption"

Mr. Nolan Obanek, Ms. April Yu (Advised by Prof. Mikhail Kats) - 
"Thermal Camouflage Using an Array of Temperature-Contr olled Tiles"


Ms. Shu-Ching Yang, and Mr. Yang Liao (Advised by Prof. Xuejun Pan), "Fabrication of a Novel Functionalized Meso-Porous Material from Cellulose and Biomass for Heavy Metal Ion and Formaldehyde Gas Adsorption"

Winners will present their research at the AMIC annual meeting in a special session just for AMIC members.

Industry - University relationships

  Bridging the University-Industry Divide in R&D Collaborations
Joy Goswami,
University of Delaware
Collaboration in research and development between academia and industry has been the main driver for the development of innovative technologies for many years and should not be overlooked.

The relationship between these two institutions should be a symbiotic one, according to Joy Goswami, assistant director at the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnership at the University of Delaware, who spoke at the second annual R&D 100 Conference in Washington, D.C., last month in a session titled "University-Industry Relations: Nurturing a Culture of Partnerships."

"Since industry and university are the two most powerful engines that can generate innovation, it would be obvious that if the two entities can work in conjunction, the resulting outcome would be enormous and could push the frontiers of innovation in a major way," Goswami told R&D Magazine in an exclusive post-presentation interview.

According to Goswami, collaborative benefits to a university include- increased opportunities for research funding; being a potential source for receiving monetary rewards that may go back to unrestricted R&D; providing an industrial connection leading to sponsored research funds; opportunities for consulting; assistance in student success via internships and employment opportunities; and provision of PR and prestige to its affiliated university.

As for industry benefits from a relationship with a university-receipt of federal funding through governmental collaborative funding initiatives; cost savings via student hires as interns and faculty consultants; commercialization of university-based technologies for commercial and financial gain; subcontracting R&D project to university (due to lack of in-house infrastructure or expertise in the industry; enhancement of corporate image.

So with all of these benefits to both entities, why are there still so many challenges associated with bridging cultural and communication divides between academia and the industry that has remained a constant impediment in fostering such collaborations?

Read more:
AMIC Member Spotlight

Jagler: Self-disruption propels A.O. Smith

"This is only halftime. We're a 142-year-old company. We have to think about the next 142 years," Rajendra says. "We're always investing in the future."

That kind of forward thinking has been key to A.O. Smith's growth as the world's largest manufacturer of water heaters. Rajendra says A.O. Smith is in a perpetual state of intentional self-disruption.
"We want to make our technologies irrelevant and obsolete before someone else does," Rajendra says.

Rajendra joined A.O. Smith as president of the company's Water Products Co. in Nashville in 2005. A turning point in A.O. Smith history came in 2010, when it decided to sell its Electric Products Co. for $900 million and focus on water - an essential element of life and an essential element of A.O. Smith's future. Before that, there wasn't a clear 'this is who we are.' It allowed us to get out and focus on the water," Rajendra says.

Rajendra's decisive leadership has been a driving factor in A.O. Smith's growth, according to Paul Jones, the company's former CEO, who hand-picked his successor. "There's no denying that his leadership has been absolutely outstanding. He's a first-class business leader," Jones says. "He's an excellent communicator. He works very well with people. I call him an inclusive communicator. It's just impressive to watch."

Read more:
UW Engineering in the news

  Advanced Nano-Cutter Boosts Emerging Materials Research
Professor Sangkee Min explains the ROBONANO_ the first machine of its kind in North America. The machine_s nano precision could open up improved and novel approaches to the manufacturing of everything from semiconductors to mobile devices to scientific instruments. STEPHANIE PRECOURT

The University of Wisconsin-Madison  College of Engineering is the new home of a unique machine capable of milling in three dimensions with nanometer precision.
The machine, called the  ROBONANO α-0iB, is the first of its kind in North America, and offers the sort of advanced technological capabilities that represent the future of advanced manufacturing.

The ROBONANO is on a multiyear loan from the Japanese robotics manufacturer FANUC to the laboratory of  Sangkee Min, a UW-Madison professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the  Grainger Institute for Engineering. The ROBONANO's capabilities offer Min and colleagues new research opportunities, which he hopes will lead to improved approaches to the manufacturing of everything from semiconductors to toys and mobile devices to scientific instruments.
The 5-axis machine has nearly limitless configurations for cutting, scribing and milling materials, but ROBONANO's superiority over previous generations of similar machines is obvious: Its ability to cut at the nanoscale is two orders of magnitude more precise than most machines used in advanced manufacturing today.

"Many materials have different properties at the nanoscale that create all sorts of different possibilities that aren't possible with conventional machines," says Min.

Read more:

In 2013, researchers Matthew T. Hora, Ross Benbow and Amanda Oleson from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin−Madison launched a $600,000 NSF-funded study to explore the controversial notion that a gap between workforce needs and the skills of available workers is slowing job growth in the state, primarily due to an out-of-touch higher education sector.

At the time, one in 10 jobs in the state could not be filled, according to the Office of the Governor.
"So the story goes that the reason there's a lack of skilled job applicants and sluggish job growth is because colleges and universities aren't teaching the right classes. They're too theoretical or don't lead to high-demand careers, and it's all on education to fix it," explains Hora, assistant professor of adult teaching and learning who says the real problem is more complicated and requires a systemic solution. "Yes, a lot needs to change in higher education. For one, there needs to be more active learning in the classroom and better career counseling. But, employers, the broader community and policymakers are part of the problem and solution, as well."

Read more:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is 10th among public institutions in U.S. News & World Report's latest college rankings.
Overall, UW-Madison ranks 44th in a six-way tie. Last year, UW-Madison ranked 11th among publics and 41st overall in a six-way tie. The rankings, released today, include more than 310 national doctoral universities and will be included in the 2017 edition of America's Best Colleges.
"We know that UW-Madison provides a quality education and experience for our students," says Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf. "While rankings are only one measure of a university's performance, we realize many students and families pay close attention to them in helping make decisions about college."
The methodology used to produce the rankings is almost identical to last year's, with a slight change in how the class size portion of the ranking is calculated. Criteria used include retention/graduation rates, academic reputation, financial resources, faculty resources and student selectivity.

Read more:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today, Reuters announces its Top 100:  The World's Most Innovative Universities - 2016.  The University of Wisconsin (UW) System ranks #13 in this world-wide ranking.

"We work together to provide a quality education and, on behalf of all UW System institutions, we are incredibly proud of this ranking," says UW System President Ray Cross.  "We have a $15 billion impact on Wisconsin's economy each year, and this report exemplifies why it's critical we invest in the success of the UW System.  We are working with and developing the best and brightest in the world."

The Reuters list relies exclusively on empirical data, such as patent filings and research paper citations.  It ranks the educational institutions "doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and help drive the global economy."  The UW System has 176 new patents from student products and discoveries, and more than 9,100 academic research and development projects.

"These independent reports continue to demonstrate that the UW System is a strong economic contributor and innovator for Wisconsin," says Cross. "We perform ground-breaking research and develop the workforce of tomorrow, and we do it cost-effectively.  Now is the time to invest in the UW System so we can continue to provide the excellent quality people expect and deserve."

The UW System performs research and develops talent more cost-effectively than all other peer institutions in the Midwest.  According to the independent Wisconsin Technology Council higher education report, a degree from the UW System costs less than the national average, and less than Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.

Read more:

Research is often an empowering experience for undergraduates, but for six students who spent the summer of 2016 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, their efforts generated results that could also help bring power to people around the world.

The team worked to develop small, self-contained electric power grids, or microgrids, under the guidance of Giri Venkataramanan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, and Ashray Manur, a graduate student in Venkataramanan's group.

In the developed world, most people plug in to major metropolitan power grids-hundreds of thousands of homes connected by miles and miles of high-voltage transmission lines drawing power from massive far-off plants. And rarely do they consider the mind-boggling amounts amount of infrastructure and highly sophisticated algorithms that keep the system humming along.

Until the system stops humming.

Read more:

UW Madison Mechanical Engineering Professor Krishnan Suresh

It's an open secret among computer scientists and programmers: Computer processors waste a lot of time twiddling their thumbs, waiting for data to arrive from memory, so those impressive "clock speeds" used to hype hardware reveal little about overall speed of output.  But everything changes if you can figure out a way to keep a "hungry" processor fed, says Krishnan Suresh, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And that realization is central to SciArt LLC, Suresh's brand-new Madison startup. The company promises to "rethink design" by running ultra-fast design optimization software called ParetoWorks on garden-variety computers.

ParetoWorks, Suresh's brainchild, takes a specification for a mechanical part - such as a yoke, bracket or shelf - and a list of goals, such as breaking strength or stiffness. Repeatedly, the software carves away bits of material in the design, then asks itself: "Am I still on track toward my goals?"

The answer determines whether the software continues on its current path, or tests a better place to carve. When the software exhausts the improvements, it spits out a design that meets the original goals, which typically allow a radical reduction in material.

The core of ParetoWorks was designed by Suresh, copyrighted by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and licensed to SciArt.

Read more:
 Move Over, Solar: The Next Big Renewable Energy Source Could be at Our Feet 
Associate Professor Xudong Wang holds a prototype of the researcher's energy harvesting technology, which uses wood pulp and harnesses nanofibers. The technology could be incorporated into flooring and convert footsteps on the flooring into usable electricity. (Stephanie Precourt) UW-Madison.

Flooring can be made from any number of sustainable materials, making it, generally, an eco-friendly feature in homes and businesses alike.

Now, however, flooring could be even more "green," thanks to an inexpensive, simple method developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison materials engineers that allows them to convert footsteps into usable electricity.

Xudong Wang, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison, his graduate student Chunhua Yao, and their collaborators published details of the advance Sept. 24 in the journal Nano Energy.

The method puts to good use a common waste material: wood pulp. The pulp, which is already a common component of flooring, is partly made of cellulose nanofibers. They're tiny fibers that, when chemically treated, produce an electrical charge when they come into contact with untreated nanofibers.

When the nanofibers are embedded within flooring, they're able to produce electricity that can be harnessed to power lights or charge batteries. And because wood pulp is a cheap, abundant and renewable waste product of several industries, flooring that incorporates the new technology could be as affordable as conventional materials.

While there are existing similar materials for harnessing footstep energy, they're costly, nonrecyclable, and impractical at a large scale.

Read more:
Engineers Reveal Fabrication Process for Revolutionary Transparent Sensors
A blue light shines through a clear, implantable medical sensor onto a brain model. See-through sensors, which have been developed by a team of UW-Madison engineers, should help neural researchers better view brain activity. Source: Justin Williams research group

In 2014, when University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers announced in the journal  Nature Communications that they had developed transparent sensors for use in imaging the brain, researchers around the world took notice.

Then the requests came flooding in. "So many research groups started asking us for these devices that we couldn't keep up," says Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, the Lynn H. Matthias Professor and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison.

Ma's group is a world leader in developing revolutionary flexible electronic devices. The see-through, implantable micro-electrode arrays were light years beyond anything ever created.
Although he and collaborator Justin Williams, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in biomedical engineering and neurological surgery at UW-Madison, patented the technology through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, they saw its potential for advancements in research. "That little step has already resulted in an explosion of research in this field," says Williams. "We didn't want to keep this technology in our lab. We wanted to share it and expand the boundaries of its applications."

Read more:
  Liquid crystal design method could speed development of cheap chemical sensors
Prof. Nick Abbott

Prof. Manos Mavrikakos

University of Wisconsin-Madison chemical engineers have developed a new way to create inexpensive chemical sensors for detecting explosives, industrial pollutants or even the chemical markers of disease in a patient's breath.

Manos Mavrikakis and Nicholas L. Abbott, UW-Madison professors of chemical and biological engineering, combined their expertise in computational chemistry and liquid crystals to turn a sensor Abbott built to detect a molecular mimic of deadly sarin gas into a roadmap for tuning similar sensors to flag other dangerous or important chemicals.

"We've established a new framework," says Mavrikakis.
The researchers described the material Wednesday (Nov. 2, 2016) in the journal Nature Communications.
Their framework is a new approach for optimizing the components - similar to those found in flat-panel TVs - of a liquid-crystal-based sensor: metal cations (positively charged ions), salt anions, solvents and molecules that form liquid crystals.

Read more:

Renewable energy made from the act of walking on a special nanotech wood floor. A "super yeast" that does a lot more than make bread dough rise. A battery that's charged by the energy from the sun.

Bill Gates has $1 billion to finance next-generation clean energy technologies and big breakthroughs, and some researchers in Wisconsin want to get his attention.
And their labs have been busy, judging by announcements coming out of the Wisconsin Energy Institute and papers that University of Wisconsin scientists have published in scientific journals in recent months.

Some technologies are closer to market than others. Student-run NovoMoto this year, for instance, won the top award among Midwest start-ups in a clean energy competition held in Chicago.

Chemistry Professor Song Jin has developed a battery that transfers energy from the sun directly to the electrolyte in a battery. _Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Read more:

Engineering Hall

For the UW-Madison College of Engineering, 2016 was a year full of remarkable achievements. We continued to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge on many fronts, harness engineering expertise in efforts to improve the quality of our lives, and innovate in delivering a world-class educational experience.

Read more:
Materials, Advanced Manufacturing and Related topics

The Energy Department's Advanced Manufacturing Office has announced up to $3 million in available funding for manufacturers to use high-performance computing resources at the Department's national laboratories to tackle major manufacturing challenges. The High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program enables innovation in U.S. manufacturing through the adoption of high performance computing (HPC) to advance applied science and technology in manufacturing, with an aim of increasing energy efficiency, advancing clean energy technology, and reducing energy's impact on the environment.

HPC is showing potential in addressing a range of manufacturing and applied energy challenges of national importance to the U.S. Past HPC4Mfg solicitations have highlighted energy intensive manufacturing sectors. But this time the focus has expanded to include challenges identified in the Energy Departments' 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR), with a special focus on advances in HPC as a platform of enabling information technology for innovation and manufacturing. In doing so, we seek to grow the HPC Manufacturing community, by enticing HPC expertise to the field, adding to a high tech workforce, which will enable them to make a real impact on clean energy technology and the environment.

Read more:
Materials for Energy Applications
Fabrics that can generate electricity from physical movement have been in the works for a few years. Now researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have taken the next step, developing a fabric that can simultaneously harvest energy from both sunshine and motion.

Combining two types of electricity generation into one textile paves the way for developing garments that could provide their own source of energy to power devices such as smart phones or global positioning systems.

"This hybrid power textile presents a novel solution to charging devices in the field from something as simple as the wind blowing on a sunny day," said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering.

The research was reported September 12 in the Nature Energy.

To make the fabric, Wang's team used a commercial textile machine to weave together solar cells constructed from lightweight polymer fibers with fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators.

Read more:
Thermoelectric paint being applied to an alumina hemisphere. The paint provides closer contact with the heat-emitting surface than conventional planar thermoelectric devices do. Credit: Park et al.,2016 Nature Communications
( these days is becoming much more than it used to be. Already researchers have developed photovoltaic paint, which can be used to make "paint-on solar cells" that capture the sun's energy and turn it into electricity.

Now in a new study, researchers have created thermoelectric paint, which captures the waste heat from hot painted surfaces and converts it into electrical energy.

"I expect that the thermoelectric painting technique can be applied to waste heat recovery from large-scale heat source surfaces, such as buildings, cars, and ship vessels," Jae Sung Son, a coauthor of the study and researcher at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), told

"For example, the temperature of a building's roof and walls increases to more than 50 °C in the summer," he said. "If we apply thermoelectric paint on the walls, we can convert huge amounts of waste heat into electrical energy."

Read more:

The future of American society and its unprecedented standard of living depend, to a large degree, on how we use energy. The energy choices we make shape not only our quality of life, but the health of the environment, how we work and play, the strength of our economy, and our national security. Sound decisions by individuals, communities, and the nation depend on trustworthy and objective energy information. To help fill that need, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine provide this energy primer.

Read more:
Characterization of Advanced Materials
In contradicting a theory that's been the standard for over eighty years, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have made a discovery holding major promise for the petroleum industry. The research has revealed that in the foreseeable future products such as crude oil and gasoline could be transported across country 30 times faster, and the several minutes it takes to fill a tank of gas could be reduced to mere seconds.

Over the past year, using high flux neutron sources at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), an Illinois group led by Yang Zhang, assistant professor of nuclear, plasma, and radiological engineering (NPRE) and Beckman Institute at Illinois, has been able to videotape the molecular movement of alkanes, the major component of petroleum and natural gas. The group has learned that the thickness of liquid alkanes can be significantly reduced, allowing for a marked increase in the substance's rate of flow.

"Alkane is basically a chain of carbon atoms," Zhang said. "By changing one carbon atom in the backbone of an alkane molecule, we can make it flow 30 times faster."

Read more:
Electronic & Photonic Materials

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego, in collaboration with the Materials Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), have created the world's largest database of elemental crystal surfaces and shapes to date. Dubbed  Crystalium , this new open-source database can help researchers design new materials for technologies in which surfaces and interfaces play an important role, such as fuel cells, catalytic converters in cars, computer microchips, nanomaterials and solid-state batteries.

"This work is an important starting point for studying the material surfaces and interfaces, where many novel properties can be found. We've developed a new resource that can be used to better understand surface science and find better materials for surface-driven technologies," said Shyue Ping Ong, a nanoengineering professor at UC San Diego and senior author of the study.

For example, fuel cell performance is partly influenced by the reaction of molecules such as hydrogen and oxygen on the surfaces of metal catalysts. Also, interfaces between the electrodes and electrolyte in a rechargeable lithium-ion battery host a variety of chemical reactions that can limit the battery's performance. The work in this study is useful for these applications, said Ong, who is also part of a larger effort by the UC San Diego Sustainable Power and Energy Center to design better battery materials.

Read more:

From hard to malleable, from transparent to opaque, from channeling electricity to blocking it: Materials come in all types. A number of their intriguing properties originate in the way a material's electrons "dance" with its lattice of atomic nuclei, which is also in constant motion due to vibrations known as phonons.
This coupling between electrons and phonons determines how efficiently solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. It also plays key roles in superconductors that transfer electricity without losses, topological insulators that conduct electricity only on their surfaces, materials that drastically change their electrical resistance when exposed to a magnetic field, and more.

At the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists can study these coupled motions in unprecedented detail with the world's most powerful X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). LCLS is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

"It has been a long-standing goal to understand, initiate and control these unusual behaviors," says LCLS Director Mike Dunne. "With LCLS we are now able to see what happens in these materials and to model complex electron-phonon interactions. This ability is central to the lab's mission of developing new materials for next-generation electronics and energy solutions."

LCLS works like an extraordinary strobe light: Its ultrabright X-rays take snapshots of materials with atomic resolution and capture motions as fast as a few femtoseconds, or millionths of a billionth of a second. For comparison, one femtosecond is to a second what seven minutes is to the age of the universe.

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Bio Materials

Silk-the stuff of lustrous, glamorous clothing-is very strong. Researchers now report a clever way to make the gossamer threads even stronger and tougher: by feeding silkworms graphene or single-walled carbon nanotubes (Nano Lett. 2016, DOI:  10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b03597). The reinforced silk produced by the silkworms could be used in applications such as durable protective fabrics, biodegradable medical implants, and ecofriendly wearable electronics, they say.

Researchers have previously added dyes, antimicrobial agents, conductive polymers, and nanoparticles to silk-either by treating spun silk with the additives or, in some cases, by directly feeding the additives to silkworms. Silkworms, the larvae of mulberry-eating silk moths, spin their threads from a solution of silk protein produced in their salivary glands.

To make carbon-reinforced silk,  Yingying Zhang  and her colleagues at Tsinghua University fed the worms mulberry leaves sprayed with aqueous solutions containing 0.2% by weight of either carbon nanotubes or graphene and then collected the silk after the worms spun their cocoons, as is done in standard silk production. Treating already spun silk would require dissolving the nanomaterials in toxic chemical solvents and applying those to the silk, so the feeding method is simpler and more environmentally friendly.

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Chemical Engineering

In March 1995, members of a  Japanese cult released the deadly nerve agent sarin into the Tokyo subway system, killing a dozen people and injuring a thousand more.

This leads to the question: What if a U.S. transportation hub was contaminated with a chemical agent? The hub might be shut down for weeks, which could have a substantial economic impact. Craig Tenney, a chemical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, is looking for better ways to clean contaminated concrete to reduce that impact.

"We can't just rip out and replace the affected concrete - that would be too expensive," said Tenney. "We need to decontaminate it and make it safe. The public has to be confident enough to come back and use the affected facility."

The project, funded by Sandia's  Laboratory Directed Research & Development program, uses computer simulations to examine how chemical agents soak into and bind within concrete. The power of the simulations is that researchers can glimpse details they can't obtain experimentally. Researchers can expose a concrete block to a chemical, try to clean it and then detect the remaining chemicals, but that doesn't allow them to watch what is happening on the inside, Tenney explained.

Decontaminating concrete is difficult because it's chemically and physically complex. Tenney said he and his team need details of the chemical interactions that occur in concrete so they can design new decontamination methods and mixtures.

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Researchers at Aalto University, in Espoo in Finland, unravel the design principles of unusual dual superlyophobic surfaces in oil-water systems in work published in Advanced Materials, where they prepare thermodynamically unusual surfaces that possess two contradictory wetting properties: superhydrophobicity under oil and superoleophobicity under water. These surfaces are prepared by the combination of re-entrant topography and delicately matched surface chemistry, relying on two key design criteria and employing a metastable state effect in the solid-oil-water systems.

When in contact with water and oil, surfaces are usually either hydrophilic/oleophobic (preferential wetting by water, e.g., mica) or oleophilic/hydrophobic (preferential wetting by oil, e.g., poly(tetrafluoroethylene). Consequently, superhydrophobicity under oil (where the water contact angle in oil on a surface is greater than 150°) and superoleophobicity under water (where the oil contact angle in water is greater than 150°) have been previously regarded as contradictory to each other and have not been expected to be present for the same surface.

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Concrete isn't thought of as a plastic, but plasticity at small scales boosts concrete's utility as the world's most-used material by letting it constantly adjust to stress, decades and sometimes even centuries after hardening. Rice University researchers are a step closer to understanding why.

The Rice lab of materials scientist Rouzbeh Shahsavari performed an atom-level computer analysis of tobermorite, a naturally occurring crystalline analog to the calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) that makes up cement, which in turn holds concrete together. By understanding the internal structure of tobermorite, they hope to make concrete stronger, tougher and better able to deform without cracking under stress.

Their results appear this week in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Read more:

Metal nanowires (NWs) hold promise for commercial applications such as flexible displays, solar cells, catalysts and heat dissipators.

The most common approach to create nanowires not only yield nanowires but also other low-aspect ratio shapes such as nanoparticles (NPs) and nanorods. These undesired byproducts are almost always produced due to difficulties in controlling the non-instantaneous nucleation of the seed particles as well as seed types, which causes the particles to grow in multiple pathways.

"We created the purest form of copper nanowires with no byproducts that would affect the shape and purity of the nanowires," said LLNL's Fang Qian, lead author of the paper.

The team demonstrated that copper nanowires, synthesized at a liter-scale, can be purified to near 100 percent yield from their nanoparticle side-products with a few simple steps.

Functional nanomaterials are notoriously difficult to produce in large volumes with highly controlled composition, shapes and sizes. This difficulty has limited adoption of nanomaterials in many manufacturing technologies.

"This work is important because it enables production of large quantities of copper nanomaterials with a very facile and elegant approach to rapidly separate nanowires from nanoparticles with extremely high efficiency," said Eric Duoss, a principal investigator on the project. "We envision employing these purified nanomaterials for a wide variety of novel fabrication approaches, including additive manufacturing."

Read more:

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.  

Anna Kiyanova
(608) 263-1735

  The Materials Science Center (MSC)

The Materials Science Center has a wide spectrum of electron, optical and physical characterization instruments and is fully staffed to help you with training and sample characterization.

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.

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 characterization and sample prep challenges!  

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)  

Biochemistry Optical Core

The Biochemistry Optical Core (BOC) provides state-of-the-art instrumentation for super-resolution light microscopic imaging. Expertise and advice is available for the design of experiments involving these techniques; and for the development of grants and manuscripts involving super-resolution and standard light microscopic technologies. 

Dr. Elle Grevstad
Dept of Biochemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison
440 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Paul Bender Chemical Instrumentation Center

The Paul Bender Instrument Center houses the Chemistry Department's major shared analytical instrumentation (magnetic resonance, and mass spectrometry, and X-ray diffraction). These instruments are maintained and updated by an expert staff that provides user training and data interpretation in support of Departmental research. The Center is located on the second floor of the Chemistry building.

Dr. Charles Fry
Dept of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Madison
(608)262-3182, Room: 2201A 
New Inventions

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

3-D Printer for High Quality, Large-Scale Metal Parts

Thomas (Rock) Mackie, Brandon Walker

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a 3-D printer designed to balance cost and complexity and capable of producing high resolution metal parts for the automotive, aerospace and other industries.

Despite recent advances in additive manufacturing, especially rapid plastic prototyping, there is still a need for better 3-D metal printers. Current techniques are relatively slow and not up to the task of producing large, high resolution models.

UW-Madison researchers have developed a linear multisource 3-D printer capable of producing large, fully dense metal parts with micron resolution.

The highly practical design employs a mechanically scanned cathode comb, large metal powder bed and vacuum. The design ensures a tightly controlled focal spot size, minimizes the number of beam sources, produces large parts at full density and requires little or no post processing because of the high resolution print head.

  • Prototype car frames and bodies
  • Aerospace parts, turbines and jet engine chambers
  • Complex single parts
  • Custom-designed automotives
  • Large replacement components for ships/aircraft
  • Also amenable to high resolution plastic parts
  • Scales to very large sizes
  • Faster and more accurate than existing 3-D metal printing techniques
  • Simplified electron optics
  • Practical design
  • Minimal beam distortion or scatter

Read more!
Designing Beyond the Consumer: 3 Strategies for Promoting Sustainability in Consumer Electronics 

Compatibility of different polymer combinations for recycling

W e're living in a time where technology is advancing
faster than ever before, and as a byproduct, the relevant life of our electronics grows shorter and shorter. This technologic revolution was sparked by Intel Corporation's founder, Gordon Moore, in 1975 when he predicted that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit board will double approximately every two years.

What Moore didn't predict was that in the last fifteen years alone, the amount of e-waste produced here in the states would nearly double as we toss outdated products to upgrade to the latest model. From a buyer standpoint, I get to geek out on the latest and greatest technology, but as an engineer, I have a responsibility to understand and teach how products can be designed to promote sustainability.

EPA studies show a rapidly increasing amount of e-waste, but facilities are still only able to recycle about 40% of consumer electronics. In fact, The Global E-Waste Monitor 2014 Report estimates that the e-waste discarded in 2014 contained substantial amounts of potentially reusable resources-some 16,500 kilotons of iron, 1,900 kilotons of copper, and 300 tons of gold, as well as significant amounts of silver, aluminum, and palladium, with a combined estimated value of $52 billion. However, it also contained substantial amounts of health-threatening toxins, such as mercury, cadmium, chromium. That sucks for our planet.

The biggest positive influence on a product's environmental impact will be made by companies that focus on sustainable manufacturing and design practices. So how have companies implemented sustainable design, and what can you do to help?

Read more!

Abstract -

Nature often exhibits various interesting and unique adhesive surfaces. The attempt to understand the natural adhesion phenomena can continuously guide the design of artificial adhesive surfaces by proposing simplified models of surface adhesion. Among those models, a peeling model can often effectively reflect the adhesive property between two surfaces during their attachment and detachment processes. In the context, this review summarizes the recent advances about the peeling model in understanding unique adhesive properties on natural and artificial surfaces. It mainly includes four parts: a brief introduction to natural surface adhesion, the theoretical basis and progress of the peeling model, application of the peeling model, and finally, conclusions. It is believed that this review is helpful to various fields, such as surface engineering, biomedicine, microelectronics, and so on.

Read more!
There are several reasons why structural adhesives are chosen for a wide variety of assembly operations. Unlike mechanical fasteners, they don't damage substrates by needing drilled holes, and there's no heat distortion (a risk with welding). They can also join dissimilar materials without galvanic corrosion, work with different geometries, and don't concentrate stress at a few localized spots, thus increasing fatigue resistance. And after the joining processes, structural adhesives don't require refinishing steps or leave protrusions, so they are aesthetically more pleasing.

Compared to other types of adhesives, structural adhesives have the highest load-bearing capabilities; boast excellent environmental and chemical resistance, with no solvent emissions to deal with; and come with a range of cure times and properties. They cure in an irreversible process which helps provide excellent temperature and solvent resistance. They also do not need access to air to dry or cure, nor moisture like one-part silicone and polyurethane sealants.
In fact, structural adhesives have such a wide range of characteristics that engineers may have difficulty selecting which structural adhesive to use. Compared to other adhesives, however, structural adhesives are less intuitive to use and their performance is widely affected by processing decisions. Here are some tips on choosing structural adhesives and how to handle processing decisions.

Read more!



 for the
2017 AMIC annual meeting

Varsity Hall in Union South

If you are interested in sponsoring the event to increase market exposure and student/faculty awareness,
Please let us know!

Items available to sponsorships -  

  • Lunch sponsor
  • Student poster prizes
  • Literature
  • Coffee/Snacks

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