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Program Highlights

Bioinspired 3D-Printed Hydrogel Actuators that Perspire

The role of robots is increasing in our daily lives, requiring robots to work continuously for long periods, requiring high energy output. These machines are prone to high heat dissipation due to friction and actuation, especially in DC motors and thermally controlled actuators. A Cornell team investigated whether robots can regulate body temperature by sweating, just as humans do.

Partnerships for Commercializing New Technologies

Faculty at Cornell have combined detector-building experience with electron microscopy expertise to develop the Electron Microscope Pixel Array Detector, or EMPAD. Partnering with a leading scientific instrument manufacturer, this technology is now available as an option on new electron microscopes from Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Solid-Phase Epitaxy: A Means to Control Atomic-Scale Structure in Complex Materials

Wisconsin MRSEC researchers have developed a method to synthesize materials with precisely controlled crystal structures, even when the same atoms could arrange themselves into a different structure with nearly the same energy. The methods allow them to make highly perfect films of cubic aluminum oxide with widespread applications in electronic materials, catalysis, and surface passivation.

New Insights into Surface Diffusion on Glasses

Understanding how atoms move is fundamental to making and using materials. Atoms on the surface of some glasses move at nearly the same rate as atoms on the inside. But for other glasses, surfaces atoms move a million times faster.

Accelerating Innovation through Licensing, Commercialization, and Startups

The NU-MRSEC amplifies its societal impact by engaging industry and other partners, promoting commercialization, and providing shared facilities that are informed by the latest materials research.  In this manner, the latest scientific developments are efficiently brought to the marketplace, and society at large.

Synthesis of Borophane Polymorphs through Hydrogenation of Borophene

In a three PI collaboration within NU-MRSEC IRG-1, “borophane” polymorphs have been synthesized by hydrogenating borophene with atomic hydrogen in ultrahigh vacuum. Borophane polymorphs are metallic and can be reversibly returned to pristine borophene through thermal desorption of hydrogen.

STEM: Science and Beyond

Hosted by Prof. Rolando Valdés Aguilar and graduate student Brandi Wooten, CEM Podcasts were started in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to inform and bring the MRSEC community together.

Virtual Musical Magnetism Engages Middle School Students in Materials Science

The Illinois MRSEC implemented its middle school outreach program “Musical Magnetism” for the third year starting in Feb. 2021, in a six-week, virtual format. The program engages middle school students in materials science demos as they practice creative expression with a science theme. The program reached 50 7th and 8th graders at Franklin STEAM Academy, a school with majority URM students.

Designing Highly Deformable 2D Materials and Heterostructures

The Illinois MRSEC team has demonstrated a new ability to create ultra-soft 2D heterostructures by design. With combined electron microscopy studies and atomistic simulations, they show that systematically incorporating low-friction interfacial layers into 2D stacks tunes the bending stiffness up to several hundred percent.

Assembly of Linked Nanocrystal Colloids by Reversible Covalent Bonds

This highlight demonstrates the combination of colloidal nanocrystals with uniquely developed ligands for the use of gelation assembly. Through this combined experimental, computational and theoretical work provided a platform for controlling and designing the properties of reversible colloidal assemblies.

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