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  • richardmitnick 12:31 pm on October 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LIFT- Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, , Materials Manufacturing, U Michigan   

    From U Michigan: “Advanced manufacturing lab opens in Detroit” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    October 12, 2017 [better late…]
    Nicole Casal Moore

    Center to drive lightweight manufacturing technology.

    1
    Xun Lin, ME PhD Student, works in the S.M. Wu Manufacturing Research Center. Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

    A $50 million lightweighting research and development lab that the University of Michigan helped to jumpstart opened its doors today in Detroit’s Corktown district.

    LIFT, which stands for Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, and IACMI, The Composites Institute unveiled the 100,000-sq.-ft. facility. It’s a cornerstone of LIFT’s effort to establish a regional manufacturing ecosystem that moves advanced lightweight metals out of the research lab and into tomorrow’s cars, trucks, airplanes and ships for both the commercial and military sectors.

    “The metalworking industry in our country already employs almost half a million people,” said Alan Taub, LIFT’s chief technical officer and a professor of materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering at U-M. “Through LIFT technology advances and education and workforce programs, we are enabling further growth.”

    2
    Mihaela Banu, ME Associate Professor, shows an example of an alloy in the GG Brown Building. Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

    LIFT, which was formerly the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), launched in 2014 as a partnership among U-M, Ohio State University and Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI. The institute is a node in the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, an Obama administration White House initiative to help U.S. manufacturers become more competitive. It is now called Manufacturing USA. U-M faculty played pivotal roles in helping to conceive and shape this network.

    “The purpose of these manufacturing innovation institutes is to mature the technology and the manufacturing-readiness through precompetitive R&D and establish industrial commons necessary to anchor manufacturing in the U.S.”said Sridhar Kota, the Herrick Professor of Engineering at U-M and a professor of mechanical engineering. “LIFT’s six pillars of lightweight metals processing technology have significant applications to automotive and aerospace industries.”

    Kota held an appointment as assistant director for advanced manufacturing at the White House from 2009-12. He proposed the idea of so-called Edison Institutes to bridge the “innovation gap” between basic research and manufacturing-readiness. Kota helped create Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in 2011 to move the network forward. Other university leaders served on a working group of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

    “These new institutes will help put ‘&’ back in R&D in order to get a better return on investment of taxpayers’ dollars,” Kota said earlier.

    The new lab is a joint effort between LIFT and IACMI, The Composites Institute, which is another Manufacturing USA institute. It will allow institute members, partners and others in the industry to conduct research and development projects, in both lightweight metals and advanced composites. It will also provide education space for students and adult learners focused on the composites and lightweight materials industries.

    With more than 74 member organizations including companies, universities, research institutions, and education and workforce leaders as partners, LIFT is expected to contribute to economic development and positive job impact in Detroit and stretching to the five-state region of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky over the next five years. Most of these jobs will be in the metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting industries that are dominant in the Midwest region.

    Beyond its R&D efforts, the institute aims to help educate the next generation of manufacturing’s technical workforce. LIFT will engage workforce partners from across the region to strengthen education and training pathways to high quality jobs in all transportation manufacturing sectors, including the automobile, aircraft, heavy truck, ship, rail and defense industries.

    LIFT receives federal funding as well as funding from the consortium partners themselves, including the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the state of Ohio.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

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  • richardmitnick 9:20 am on October 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , HERCULES 300 TW laser, , U Michigan   

    From U Michigan – Hercules Laser: “HERCULES 300 TW laser” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    1
    Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering. Science Alert.

    From Science Alert
    A $US2 million upgrade could soon see the world’s most intense laser crank it up a notch.

    The laser they call HERCULES (because of course it is) is already currently capable of emitting a terrifying 300 terawatts of power. Clearly in a case of laser envy, a few new parts could see it spit out 1,000 terawatt beams of light, enough to produce next generation particle accelerators that could fit on your dining room table.

    HERCULES is getting a little old for lasers, being built back in 2007 when 300 terawatts was something to crow about.

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be impressed. Assuming 1,360 watts of sunlight hit your average square metre, 300 terawatts would be more or less like collecting the light that falls on an area the size of Nebraska. And then some.


    View video on High Field Science Research at CUOS

    From U Michigan
    HERCULES 300 TW laser

    The construction and operation of a high-field petawatt class laser, HERCULES, is a major CUOS activity. The National Science Foundation through the Physics Frontier Center FOCUS supported the development and construction of this laser. The goal of High-Field Science program at CUOS is to explore the ultra-relativistic intensity regime of laser-matter interaction. The Petawatt stage of HERCULES was activated in 2007 and reached power of 300 TW [1]. This was the first multi-100 TW-scale repetitive laser. HERCULES holds world records for the highest focused intensity, 2×1022 Wcm-2 and for Amplified Spontaneous Emission (ASE) temporal contrast of 10-11.

    The HERCULES laser design is based on chirped-pulse amplification with cleaning of amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) noise after the first amplifier (Fig. 1).The output pulse of the short pulse oscillator (12 fs-pulsewidth, Femtolasers) of the HERCULES laser is preamlified in the two-pass preamlifier to the microjoule energy level. ASE added by the two-pass amplifier is removed by the cleaner based on cross-polarized-wave generation [2] providing a record ASE contrast of 10-11 [3]. The clean microjoule energy pulse is stretched to ~0.5 ns by the stretcher based on a modified mirror-in-grating design [4]. The whole laser is designed by ray-tracing analysis to be fifth-order dispersion-limited over 104 nm bandwidth. The high-energy regenerative amplifier [5] and cryogenically cooled 4-pass amplifier bring the pulse energy to a joule energy level with nearly diffraction-limited beam quality. Two sequential 2-pass-Ti:sapphire amplifiers of 1′ and 2″ beam diameter respectively raise the output energy to a value approaching 20 J.

    2
    Fig.1: Hercules Schematics

    We designed our own frequency-doubled Nd:glass pump laser [6] for pumping of the final two amplifiers of the HERCULES laser (Fig. 2). The pump laser has two stages of amplification. The frequency-doubled output of the first stage is used for pumping of the 1″-diameter Ti:sapphire amplifier, while the unconverted infrared light is injected into the second stage of the pump laser for further amplification. The frequency-doubled output of the second stage is used for pumping of the booster (2″- diameter) amplifier of the HERCULES laser. The pump laser has a quasi-flat-top beam profile that was achieved at 0.1 Hz repetition rate by relay imaging and thermally-introduced birefringence compensation. The booster two-pass amplifier uses a 11-cm-diameter Ti:sapphire crystal. Only a portion of this crystal is used to amplify the 2″ – diameter output beam of the HERCULES laser. In order to suppress parasitic oscillations the side surface of the crystal is covered with a thin layer of index-matching thermoplastic coating (Cargille Laboratories, Inc.) doped with organic dye absorbing at 800 nm.

    3
    Fig. 2: The Petawatt amplification stage of the Hercules and the pump laser during the shot.

    4
    Fig. 3: Output beam profile of the HERCULES laser booster amplifier.

    The output beam profile (Fig. 3) is quasi-flat-top as a result of using flat-top pump beams and of the image relaying of the amplified beam through the whole laser chain. Output energy of 17 J corresponding to 300 TW power after compression has been reached so far. The pump energy for the booster Ti:sapphire amplifier (2″-diameter) is controlled by changing the pumping level of the oscillator of the pump laser.

    The output pulse is compressed in a 4-grating compressor [7] to ~30 fs (Fig. 4). The compressor is based on two 42×21 cm-size and two 22×16.5 cm-size 1200 l/mm-gold-coated holographic gratings (Jobin Yvon).

    5
    Fig.4 Hercules Petawatt Compressor

    6
    Fig. 5. Autocorrelation of 300 TW pulse showing duration of 30 fs (FWHM). The experimental autocorrelation picture (insert) demonstrates that there is no amplitude front tilt or other spatial variations of the pulse arrival time.

    Because the beam size in the compressor is rather large (6″-diameter) achromatic lenses are used in the final relays to prevent spatially varying group delay across the beam. The pulse width is measured at full energy using beam leak-through a mirror by two methods: autocorrelator with inversion [8] (Fig. 5) – to ensure that there is no spatially varying pulse delay, and a single-shot spectral interferometry for direct electric field reconstruction (SPIDER) which was not sensitive to spatial variation of delay but was able to provide phase information for intensity reconstruction. After the beam compression it is down-collimated by the all-reflective telescope to 4″-diameter and is sent to the interaction chamber where it is focused by a parabolic mirror.

    Before the parabolic mirror we use a deformable mirror (4″-diameter, 177 actuators, dielectric coated at 800 nm, made by Xinetics) to compensate the aberrations of the parabolic mirror, astigmatism of the telescope and the residual aberrations of the laser beam. The focal distribution is characterized by using the method that we developed in [9,10]. We corrected the wavefront after the f/1 parabola and reached phase aberration (r.m.s.) of lambda/20 (Fig. 6a) leading to the nearly diffraction limited spot (Fig. 6b,c).

    7
    Fig. 6: Focal spot characterization: a) Low-energy-beam wavefront corrected by the deformable mirror, phase aberrations r.m.s. =0.034*lambda, P.V.=0.24l*lambda; b) Intensity distribution in the focal spot of parabolic mirror calculated for the corrected wavefront shown in (a); c) Measured focal spot for a reference low-energy beam focused by f/1 parabolic mirror for the corrected wavefront showing spot size of 1.3 micron (FWHM).

    By upgrading HERCULES’s laser power to 300 TW we demonstrated the highest focused intensity to date of ~2×1022 W/cm2. This intensity can be raised to 5×1022 W/cm2 by using a f/0.6 parabolic mirror (as we did in [9]) opening the radiation-dominated regime of electron-light interaction for experimental studies.

    References:
    1. V. Yanovsky, V. Chvykov, G. Kalinchenko, P. Rousseau, T. Planchon, T. Matsuoka, A. Maksimchuk, J. Nees, G. Cheriaux, G. Mourou and K. Krushelnick, “Ultra-high intensity 300 TW laser at 0.1 Hz repetition rate,” Optics Express 16, 2109 (2008).

    2. A. Jullien, O. Albert, F. Burgy, G.Hamoniaux, J.P. Rousseau, J.-P. Chambaret, F. AugERochereau, G. Chériaux, J. Etchepare, N. Minkovski, S.M. Saltiel,”10-10 temporal contrast for femtosecond ultraintense lasers by cross-polarized wave generation,” Opt. Lett. 30, 920-922 (2005).

    3. V. Chvykov, P. Rousseau, S. Reed, G. Kalinchenko, and V. Yanovsky, “Generation of 1011 contrast 50 TW laser pulses,” Opt. Lett. 31, 1456-1458 (2006).

    4. P. S. Bank, M.D. Perry, V. Yanovsky, S. N. Fochs, B.C. Stuart, and J. Zweiback “Novel All-Reflective Stretcher for Chirped-Pulse Amplification of Ultrashort Pulses” IEEE J. Quant. Electr. 36, 268-274 (2000).

    5. V. Yanovsky, C. Felix , and G. Mourou, “High-energy Broadband Regenerative Amplifier for Chirped-pulse Amplification” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quant. Electr.” 7, 539-541 (2001).

    6. V.Yanovsky, V. Chvykov, S.-W.Bahk, G. Kalintchenko, K. TaPhuoc, Y-C. Chang and G.Mourou, “Development of Petawatt scale Ti:sapphire laser at 0.05 Hz repetition rate”, CLEO’2003, paper CME6

    7. M. Aoyama, K. Yamakawa, Y. Akahane, J. Ma, N. Inoue, H. Ueda, and H. Kiriyama, “0.85-PW, 33-fs Ti:sapphire laser,” Opt. Lett. 28, 1594-1596 (2003).

    8. Z Sacks, G. Mourou, R. Danielius, “Adjusting pulse-front tilt and pulse duration by use of a single-shot autocorrelator,” Opt. Lett. 26, 462-464, (2003).

    9. S.-W. Bahk, P. Rousseau, T. Planchon, V. Chvykov, G. Kalintchenko, A. Maksimchuk, G. Mourou, V. Yanovsky, “The generation and characterization of the highest laser intensity (1022W/cm2),” Opt. Lett. 29, 2837-2839 (2004).

    10. S.-W. Bahk, P. Rousseau, T. A. Planchon, V. Chvykov, G. Kalintchenko, A. Maksimchuk, G. A. Mourou, V. Yanovsky,” Characterization of focal field formed by a large numerical aperture paraboloidal mirror and generation of ultra high intensity (1022 W/cm2),” Appl. Phys. B 80, 823-832 (2005).

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:41 pm on October 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , U Michigan, Using University of Michigan buildings as batteries   

    From University of Michigan: “Using University of Michigan buildings as batteries” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    September 21, 2017 [hiding your light under a bushel?]
    Dan Newman

    How a building’s thermal energy can help the power grid accommodate more renewable energy sources.

    1
    Connor Flynn, an energy engineer with the Energy Management team, helps Aditya Keskar, a master’s student in electrical and computer engineering, retrieve data from a campus building’s HVAC system.
    No image credit.

    Michigan researchers and staff are testing how to use the immense thermal energy of large buildings as theoretical battery packs. The goal is to help the nation’s grid better accommodate renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.

    For power grids, supply must closely track demand to ensure smooth delivery of electric power. Incorporating renewable energy sources into the grid introduces a large degree of unpredictability to the system. For example, peak solar generation occurs during the day, while peak electricity demand occurs in the evening. Because of this, California, the leading solar producer in the U.S., has had to pay other states to take excess electricity off of its grid, and at other times simply wasted potential electricity by disconnecting solar panels.

    As renewable sources become more prevalent, so does the unpredictability and mismatched supply and demand, creating a growing problem in how to keep better control of both.

    To address this, and help demand for electricity react to the variability of supply from renewable energy sources, an MCubed project is testing how buildings store energy.

    The team consisted originally of project leader Johanna Mathieu, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), Ian Hiskens, Vennema Professor of Engineering and professor of EECS, and Jeremiah Johnson, formerly an assistant professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment and now an associate professor at North Carolina State University. Additionally, Dr. Sina Afshari, former postdoctoral researcher, helped set up the project on campus.

    “The goal is to utilize a building as a big battery: dump energy in and pull energy out in a way that the occupants don’t know is going on and the building managers aren’t incurring any extra costs. That’s the holy grail,” Hiskens said. “You wouldn’t have to buy chemical batteries and dispose of them a few years later.”

    Commercial buildings, like those around campus, use massive Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems to keep occupants comfortable. Large buildings require a vast amount of energy to heat and cool, and their HVAC systems consume around 20% of the electricity generated in the United States.

    However, the large building size also means any short-term changes in a thermostat will not be felt. This means a building can cut or increase power to its HVAC for a short time to help a power grid match supply and demand, while the building’s temperature remains unchanged.

    2
    Aditya Keskar downloads data from another campus building’s HVAC system.

    Aditya Keskar, who is pursuing his masters in electrical engineering and computer science, has been working with staff to test these short-term changes in HVAC power consumption in three campus buildings.

    “We’ve had immense support from the Plant Operations team and building managers. They’ve helped us gather baseline data over months, and implement the tests,” Keskar said. “With their help, we were able to make short-term adjustments to their HVAC system with no change in the actual temperature, and no complaints from building occupants.”

    If there is a surplus of supply on the grid due to heavy wind production, for example, a building automation system (BAS), which controls an HVAC system, could automatically lower its thermostat settings in the summer and increase its energy use for fifteen minutes, and then raise the thermostat to balance the extra energy consumed. This action would soak up some of the excess electricity and help to maintain equilibrium on the grid.

    If darker skies reduce the usual solar production, a BAS could raise its thermostat setting in the summer and decrease its energy use immediately, then lower the thermostat to balance the extra energy consumed.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:35 pm on September 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , The University of Michigan Solar Car Team's temporary workspace in Australia, U Michigan, World Solar Challenge   

    From U Michigan: “Hangar 107” Here’s a peek inside the The University of Michigan Solar Car Team’s temporary workspace in Australia as they prepare for the World Solar Challenge! 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    Here’s a peek inside the The University of Michigan Solar Car Team’s temporary workspace in Australia as they prepare for the World Solar Challenge!

    New work space, same work ethic | 31 days until the start of the race.

    September 6, 2017

    Without skipping a beat, the crew quickly set up our workspace in Hangar 107. On the outskirts of suburban Adelaide, Parafield Airport is home to historic and recreational aircraft, and now to Novum.

    Like the historic planes inside, Hangar 107’s metal bones show their age. Buzzing machines, chattering voices, passing planes and the occasional chilly rain shower reverberate off its steely skin.

    There is an interesting juxtaposition inside – on one end, college students work on a space-age car built from carbon fiber and powered by the sun. On the other, older men and women work to restore WWII era fighter planes, other classic jets and even the occasional classic car.

    “The projects look very different, but in fact many of the underlying principles of aerodynamics and vehicle engineering are the same,” says Sarah Zoellick, business director.

    “It’s definitely different than working at Wilson,” says Jon Cha, project manager. “I really like how everyone is kind of working right next to each other as opposed to at Wilson where everyone is working in different places. Here in Parafield, we’re all kind of working with each other and having open conversations with everyone.”

    1
    When it’s warm enough outside, the team gathers around The Tree of Knowledge for lunch. Photo: Akhil Kantipuly, U-M Solar Car Team

    “We’ve got tables set up alongside the car, organized by division, where we can do our assembly work and other smaller manufacturing stuff,” says Perry Benson, mechanical lead. “Everyone has their own little area where they can work and it’s not crowded at all, which helps the workflow go more smoothly. If people can get the tools they need and get the work done without having to wait on somebody else, then it makes things a lot less stressful.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on August 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , U Michigan   

    From U Michigan: “$7.75M for mapping circuits in the brain” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    August 3, 2017
    Kate McAlpine

    A new NSF Tech Hub will put tools to rapidly advance our understanding of the brain into the hands of neuroscientists.

    1
    To follow the long, winding connections among neurons, a technique called “Brainbow” labels each neuron a random color. Credit: Dawen Cai, Cai Lab, University of Michigan

    The technology exists to stimulate and map circuits in the brain, but neuroscientists have yet to tap this potential.

    Now, developers of these technologies are coming together to demonstrate and share them to drive a rapid advance in our understanding of the brain, funded by $7.75 million from the National Science Foundation.

    “We want to put our technology into the hands of people who can really use it,” said Euisik Yoon, leader of the project and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan.

    By observing how mice and rats behave when certain neural circuits are stimulated, neuroscientists can better understand the function of those circuits in the brain. Then, after the rodents are euthanized, they can observe the neurons that had been activated and how they are connected. This connects the behavior that they had observed while the rodent was performing a controlled experiment with a detailed map of the relevant brain structure.

    It could lead to better understanding of disease in the brain as well as more effective treatments. In the nearer term, the details of neural circuitry could also help advance computing technologies that try to mimic the efficiency of the brain.

    Over the last decade or so, three tools have emerged that, together, can enable the mapping of circuits within the brain. The most recent, from U-M, is an implant that uses light to stimulate specific neurons in genetically modified mice or rats and then records the response from other neurons with electrodes.

    2
    Probes like this one, which stimulate neurons with light and then record activity with electrodes, are just one facet of the technology suite that can help neuroscientists map circuits in the brain. Photo: Fan Wu, Yoon Lab, University of Michigan

    Unlike earlier methods to stimulate the brain with light, with relatively large light-emitters that activated many nearby neurons, the new probes can target fewer neurons using microscopic LEDs that are about the same size as the brain cells themselves. This control makes the individual circuits easier to pick out.

    The “pyramidal” neurons that cause action—rather than inhibit it—will be genetically modified so that they respond to the light.

    “They are just one of the neuron types we are seeking to map,” said John Seymour, one of the co-investigators and U-M assistant research scientist in electrical engineering and computer science. “If you can record from motor cortex pyramidal neurons, you can predict arm movement, for example.”


    John Seymour explains how the new grant will help neurotechnologists further research to enable a better understanding of the pathways in the brain.

    To visualize the structure of pyramidal cells and other kinds of neurons, researchers need a way to see each tree in the brain’s forest. For this, co-investigator Dawen Cai, U-M assistant professor of cell and developmental biology, has been advancing a promising approach known as Brainbow. Genetically modified brain cells produce fluorescent tags, revealing each cell as a random color.

    When it is time to examine the brain, a technique to make the brain transparent will remove all the fatty molecules from a brain and replace them with a clear gel, making it possible to see individual neurons. It was pioneered by another co-investigator, Viviana Gradinaru, who is a professor of biology and biological engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

    “Not only may we understand how the signal is processed inside the brain, we can also find out how each neuron is connected together so that we achieve structural and functional mapping at an unprecedented scale,” Yoon said.

    While these are the central tools, others at Michigan are working on methods to make the electrodes that record neuron activity even smaller and therefore more precise. In addition, a carbon wire electrode design could even pick up the chemical activity nearby, adding measurements of neurotransmitters as a new dimension of information.

    To share these new tools, the team will bring in neuroscientists for annual workshops and then provide them with the hardware and software they need to run experiments in their own labs. For the tools that prove to be most useful, they will seek commercialization opportunities so that they remain available after the project ends.

    4

    The project is called Multimodal Integrated Neural Technologies (MINT) and has been awarded as a 5-year National Science Foundation NeuroNex Technology Hub.

    Other co-investigators include Cynthia Chestek, U-M assistant professor of biomedical engineering; James Weiland, U-M professor of biomedical engineering; Ken Wise, the William Gould Dow Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at U-M; and György Buzsáki, professor of neuroscience at New York University. Seymour and Yoon are also affiliated with biomedical engineering at U-M. Cai is affiliated with Michigan Medicine.

    The neural probes with micro LEDs are made in the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility at U-M.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:20 pm on July 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , U Michigan   

    From U Michigan: ” MXL – Test” Great Work from a Great University 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    7.12.17
    No writer credit found
    Contact Information
    MXL – The Michigan Exploration Laboratory
    FXB 2231
    1320 Beal Avenue
    Ann Arbor, MI 48109

    Dr. James W. Cutler
    jwcutler@umich.edu
    734-615-7238

    The Michigan Exploration Laboratory

    A core part of the MXL effort is the development of novel flight vehicles and missions. We fly what we build, and build what we research. Below, we describe missions that are in operation, in development, in concept, and complete.

    Operational Missions:

    1
    GRIFEX is the GEO-CAPE ROIC In-Flight Performance Experiment, a 3U CubeSat deployed to flight test novel imaging technology. It is a partnership between NASA ESTO, JPL, and MXL. GRIFEX was launched on 31 January 2015. It has completed its primary mission and is currently demo’ing secondary technologies and used to train to students.

    2
    MCubed, the Michigan Multipurpose Minisat is a joint mission between MXL and JPL. Two satellites were funded by NASA ESTO to perform flight validation of a flight processor board carrying the Xilinx Virtex-5QV XQR5VX130T FPGA processor. MCubed-1 is opertionally limited due to its docked status with the E1P CubeSat. MCubed-2 is fulling opertional and has completed its primary mission. It is currently an operations training satellite and technology testbed for MXL.

    3
    CADRE is “CubeSat-investigating Atmospheric Density Response to Extreme driving”, and is our next generation space weather mission. The science PI is Dr. Aaron Ridly and the mission was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In late 2015, CADRE was launched to the ISS by NASA’s CubeSat launch initiative by Nanoracks and Orbital/ATK. CADRE is flying the WINCS instrument to assess the composition and characteristics of the thermosphere. The long term goal is to enable better understanding and prediction of space weather to improve our satellite position estimates.

    Missions In Development:

    4
    TBEX, the Tandem Beacon Experiment (TBEx), consists of a tandem pair of CubeSats, each carrying tri-frequency radio beacons, in near identical, low inclination orbits and a cluster of diagnostic sensors on five islands in the Central Pacific sector. The science objectives and goals of TBEx are to study how the dynamics and processes in the troposphere can act to cause variability in the behavior of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. TBEx is developed by SRI International and MXL with funding from NASA.

    5
    PATRIOT is a 3U CubeSat developed by the University of Michigan’s Student Space Systems Fabrication Lab (S3FL). PATRIOT, (Plasma Ambipolar Thruster for Rapid In-Orbit Transfers), is a 3U CubeSat mission to demonstrate the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster (CAT) plasma source/engine in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This will be the first flight test of a nanosatellite propulsion system with significant delta-V capability. If will also conduct scientific research that will address the fundamental question of how plasmas expand in freespace. PATRIOT is a joint effort between PEPL and MXL. PATRIOT was selected in 2014 for launch with NASA’s ELaNa program.

    Past Missions and Satellites:

    6
    The RAX-1 mission patch, as designed by Allison B. Craddock
    The RAX-1 CubeSat was launched in November 2010. Unfortunately, an anomaly on the solar panels resulted in degradation of power generation until, after several months, RAX-1 was unable to generate power. This anomaly ultimately resulted in the premature end of the mission. Despite this early end, the RAX-1 mission still made great strides in CubeSat design, and was able to execute bistatic radar measurements that had never before been performed with a CubeSat. All other subsystems also performed well. The applied the lessons learned from RAX-1 to the design of a second flight unit, RAX-2, launched through the NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program on October 28, 2011.

    6
    MCubed-2 was launched on 06 December 2013 as part of the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative. It successfully completed its mission of COVE operations before ceasing operation on 01 July 2014.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:18 am on June 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Google grant expands robotics for Detroit students, MEZ- Michigan Engineering Zone, U Michigan   

    From U Michigan: “Google grant expands robotics for Detroit students” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    May 17, 2017 [Did I miss this the first time around, or is this its first appearance in social media?]
    Nicole Casal Moore

    The funding increases outreach at the Michigan Engineering Zone, where U-M mentors work with local high school students.


    Students from 18 Detroit high schools who participate in the FIRST Robotics competitions, build and test their robots at the Michigan Engineering Zone in Detroit.

    1
    Detroit International Academy for Young Women HS students Ayesha Khatun (right) and Maiya Jones work on a robot for the FIRST robotics competition at the MEZ facility in Detroit. Photo by Marcin Szczepanski

    More Detroit-area high school students will have access to expanded hands-on science and engineering after-school programs, thanks to a $250,000 Google grant to the Midtown makerspace known as the Michigan Engineering Zone.

    The Michigan Engineering Zone, or MEZ, provides space, mentorship and tools for hundreds of students from across the metro area who compete in the national FIRST Robotics program each year.

    FIRST students design, build and test robots that perform different tasks every year. The MEZ is a collaboration among the University of Michigan College of Engineering, Detroit Public Schools and FIRST to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology fields.

    “The MEZ is an inspiring initiative and we’re excited to support the University of Michigan College of Engineering, Detroit Public Schools and FIRST in their mission. We hope this grant will enable the program to reach even more students in the Detroit area and continue to grow for years to come,” said Mike Miller, who leads Google’s Michigan operations.

    This spring, the MEZ finished its eighth season with 18 teams and more than 275 students. Its leaders have recently added summer camps that reach 100 more students, and in-depth coding workshops for students who want to learn more. The grant from Google will allow the program to build the infrastructure to expand by 33 percent to reach a total of 500 students per year.

    “I’m thrilled about this,” said Jeanne Murabito, MEZ founder and executive director for student affairs at the U-M College of Engineering. “With this gift from Google, we will be able to make the improvements and expansion of programming and services that are needed. Unfortunately, we’re at capacity right now and we’ve had to turn teams away.”

    2
    Advanced Technology Academy HS students Julian Taylor (left) and LaTyrie Taylor-Smith work on ideas for their FIRST Robotics Competition robot at the MEZ facility in Detroit. Photo by Marcin Szczepanski

    Leaders say MEZ is a springboard to higher education. During the 2016 MEZ season, 38 of the 40 seniors were accepted to two- or four-year colleges or universities. Of these, 80 percent planned to pursue an education and career in science or technology.

    “In our technology driven society, the Michigan Engineering Zone has provided an educational haven within the heart of the city of Detroit for our technology-minded students,” said Rita Barksdale, instructional specialist in the Detroit Public Schools Community District’s Office of Mathematics Education.

    “With the ever-growing demand for a qualified workforce in science, technology, engineering and math fields, the MEZ provides exposure to engineering through hands-on work with robotics. The students of the Detroit Public Schools Community District are the grateful and fortunate beneficiaries of this partnership.”

    Wayne Lester paid it forward. The 2017 U-M aerospace engineering graduate first came to the MEZ as a high school student.

    “Participating in robotics is what cultivated my passion for engineering,” Lester said. “I loved every moment I spent at the MEZ, whether build season, ACT practice, or other academic focused workshops, it was all so helpful for me.

    3
    UM mentor Wayne Lester (center) works with high school student Howard Williams (first right) and others on developing robots for the FIRST Robotics Competition at the MEZ facility in Detroit. Photo by Marcin Szczepanski

    “Being around many of the U-M student mentors, I had the opportunity to ask all the questions I wanted about college. With all the great things I heard about U-M, it made my choice easy. All I needed to do was get accepted.”

    Lester did. Then at U-M, he served as a MEZ mentor. Beginning this fall, he’ll start work on a master’s degree and his eighth robot-building season at MEZ.

    “As Google well understands, MEZ students practice not only technical skills, but also other aptitudes that are vital in the modern workplace—teamwork, persistence, leadership and humility,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. “We look forward to many more years of collaborating with FIRST Robotics, all of our partners and local high schools to help develop great students, great employees and great leaders for Detroit and the world.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:37 pm on June 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Concentrator photovoltaics, , Molecular beam epitaxy apparatus, , U Michigan   

    From U Michigan: “‘Magic’ alloy could spur the next generation of solar cells” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    June 15, 2017 [Why so long to get into social media]
    Gabe Cherry

    1
    Jordan Occena, a U-M graduate researcher and Sunyeol Jeon, a former U-M graduate student researcher, calibrate the molecular-beam epitaxy apparatus in the Carl A. Gerstacker Building on August 3, 2015. The apparatus is used for spray painting the “magic” chemical cocktail onto blank gallium arsenide wafers. PHOTO: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering.

    In what could be a major step forward for a new generation of solar cells called “concentrator photovoltaics,” a team of University of Michigan researchers has developed a new semiconductor alloy that can capture the near-infrared light located on the leading edge of the visible light spectrum.

    Easier to manufacture and at least 25 percent less costly than previous formulations, it’s believed to be the world’s most cost-effective material that can capture near-infrared light and is compatible with the gallium arsenide semiconductors often used in concentrator photovoltaics.

    Concentrator photovoltaics gather and focus sunlight onto small, high-efficiency solar cells made of gallium arsenide or germanium semiconductors. They’re on track to achieve efficiency rates over 50 percent, while conventional flat-panel silicon solar cells top out in the mid 20s.

    2
    Jordan Occena, a U-M graduate researcher and Sunyeol Jeon, a former U-M graduate student researcher, calibrate the molecular-beam epitaxy apparatus in the Carl A. Gerstacker Building on August 3, 2015. The apparatus is used for spray painting the “magic” chemical cocktail onto blank gallium arsenide wafers. PHOTO: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering.

    “Flat-panel silicon is basically maxed out in terms of efficiency,” said Rachel S. Goldman, a U-M materials science and engineering professor whose lab developed the alloy. “The cost of silicon isn’t going down and efficiency isn’t going up. Concentrator photovoltaics could power the next generation.”

    Varieties of concentrator photovoltaics exist today. They are made of three different semiconductor alloys layered together. Sprayed onto a semiconductor wafer in a process called molecular-beam epitaxy—a bit like spray painting with individual elements—each layer is only a few microns thick. The layers capture different parts of the solar spectrum; light that gets through one layer is captured by the next.

    But near-infrared light slips through these cells unharnessed. For years, researchers have been working toward an elusive “fourth layer” alloy that could be sandwiched into cells to capture this light. It’s a tall order; the alloy must be cost-effective, stable, durable and sensitive to infrared light, with an atomic structure that matches the other three layers in the solar cell.

    Getting all those variables right isn’t easy, and until now, researchers have been stuck with prohibitively expensive formulas that use five elements or more.

    3
    The inside of the main concourse of the molecular beam epitaxy apparatus in the Carl A. Gerstacker Building on August 3, 2015. A blank gallium arsenide wafer is placed in this concourse and moves down the tunnel to a growth chamber where the “magic” chemical cocktail is sprayed on. PHOTO: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering.

    To find a simpler mix, Goldman’s team devised a novel approach for keeping tabs on the many variables in the process. They combined on-the-ground measurement methods including X-ray diffraction done at U-M and ion beam analysis done at Los Alamos National Laboratory with custom-built computer modeling.

    Using this method, they discovered that a slightly different type of arsenic molecule would pair more effectively with the bismuth. They were able to tweak the amount of nitrogen and bismuth in the mix, enabling them to eliminate an additional manufacturing step that previous formulas required. And they found precisely the right temperature that would enable the elements to mix smoothly and stick to the substrate securely.

    “‘Magic’ is not a word we use often as materials scientists,” Goldman said. “But that’s what it felt like when we finally got it right.”

    4
    A plate of semiconductors made by the molecular beam epitaxy apparatus in the Carl A. Gerstacker Building on August 3, 2015. PHOTO: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering.

    The advance comes on the heels of another innovation from Goldman’s lab that simplifies the “doping” process used to tweak the electrical properties of the chemical layers in gallium arsenide semiconductors. During doping, manufacturers apply a mix of chemicals called “designer impurities” to change how semiconductors conduct electricity and give them positive and negative polarity similar to the electrodes of a battery. The doping agents usually used for gallium arsenide semiconductors are silicon on the negative side and beryllium on the positive side.

    The beryllium is a problem—it’s toxic and it costs about ten times more than silicon dopants. Beryllium is also sensitive to heat, which limits flexibility during the manufacturing process. But the U-M team discovered that by reducing the amount of arsenic below levels that were previously considered acceptable, they can “flip” the polarity of silicon dopants, enabling them to use the cheaper, safer element for both the positive and negative sides.

    “Being able to change the polarity of the carrier is kind of like atomic ‘ambidexterity’,” said Richard L. Field, a former U-M PhD student who worked on the project. “Just like people with naturally born ambidexterity, it’s fairly uncommon to find atomic impurities with this ability.”

    Together, the improved doping process and the new alloy could make the semiconductors used in concentrator photovoltaics as much as 30 percent cheaper to produce, a big step toward making the high-efficiency cells practical for large-scale electricity generation.

    “Essentially, this enables us to make these semiconductors with fewer atomic spray cans, and each can is significantly less expensive,” Goldman said. “In the manufacturing world, that kind of simplification is very significant. These new alloys and dopants are also more stable, which gives makers more flexibility as the semiconductors move through the manufacturing process.”

    The new alloy is detailed in a paper titled Bi-enhanced N incorporation in GaAsNBi alloys, published June 15 in Applied Physics Letters. The research is supported by the National Science Foundation (grant number DMR 1410282) and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research.

    The doping advances are detailed in a paper titled Influence of surface reconstruction on dopant incorporation and transport properties of GaAs(Bi) alloys. It was published in the December 26, 2016 issue of Applied Physics Letters. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant number DMR 1410282).

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:39 am on May 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hurricane hunting, , U Michigan   

    From U Michigan: CYGNSS 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    April 28, 2017
    Nicole Casal Moore

    The most turbulent region of a hurricane holds secrets about its potential for destruction. Michigan Engineering’s newly launched satellite system can reveal how these storms intensify in a warming world.

    The four-engine turboprop was holding steady at 1,500 feet above the roiling Atlantic. Flight director Jeff Masters looked out his window. He could see waves cresting a quarter mile beneath the fuselage. He turned back to his computer, adjusted the radar display, and looked into the eye of Hurricane Hugo.

    The storm would soon break a record as the strongest to make U.S. landfall north of Florida. Masters (BSE, MS, Ph.D., AOSS, ’82, ’83, ’97) was leading a 15-member crew straight into it.

    On his screen, he zoomed in on the eye. He fixated on the ring of red and orange pixels around it – the eyewall.

    The core of a tropical storm holds one of the most abrupt weather changes on Earth: Spiraling around the calm center, the eyewall is a tall cloud column of dizzying winds and hard rain. It’s where a hurricane is most intense – home to the maximum sustained winds that sort it into one of the familiar five categories.

    “With each sweep of the radar, it grew more ominous,” Masters wrote on his blog.

    The year was 1989. At the time, and up until very recently, the only way to gauge the brute strength of a hurricane was to tear through its roughest realm in an airplane packed with weather instruments. (No parachutes; they wouldn’t do any good.)

    Until December 2016, even the most modern weather satellites couldn’t see through the heavy rain of the eyewall to measure the all-important wind speeds at the surface. So for the past six decades, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s (NOAA) band of Hurricane Hunter aircrews have flown through storms threatening the coastal U.S. The missions give scientists and weather forecasters invaluable snapshots of a storm’s potential for destruction.

    But hurricanes still harbor secrets. Scientists need more than snapshots if they’re to understand the details of how they form and evolve.

    And why some grow suddenly stronger, as Matthew did in 2016. In just 24 hours, it swelled from a Category 1 to a Category 5. Matthew killed more than 1,600 people, most of them in Haiti. Scientists say such rapid intensification might happen more often in a warming world.

    A better understanding of the process could lead to better predictions of not just winds, but also storm surge – the swells of water hurricanes bring when they make landfall. It’s the flooding that makes them so destructive.

    A new constellation of satellites could provide the key to these predictions.

    1
    https://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/CYGNSS

    2
    Chris Ruf, CYGNSS principal investigator at the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering.

    Seeing through rain

    Michigan Engineering Professor Chris Ruf sat on a brightly-lit stage at Kennedy Space Center dressed in a suit and tie. The room was packed with journalists. The press conference was being broadcast live on NASA TV. It was December 2016, two days to the scheduled launch of their Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, a suite of eight microsatellite observatories Vice Motherboard had dubbed “spacefaring octuplets.”

    Since grad school, Ruf had been working on ways to measure hurricanes. He wrote the initial algorithms for what’s now the gold standard wind measurement instrument aboard every Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Eventually he moved on to satellite instruments, writing “rain correction” algorithms in an attempt to break through the shroud of the eyewall.

    “The rain has always been a problem because it’s this big interfering signal,” said Ruf, a professor in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering.

    Raindrops are roughly the size of the microwave-frequency signals most satellites use to probe storms, so they scatter the signals every which way.

    In CYGNSS, Ruf and his colleagues had finally found a workaround. Their solution was as clever as it was cheap – at $150 million, the satellite system was a bargain by NASA standards.

    CYGNSS would rely on what Ruf called “hacked,” off-the-shelf GPS receivers to turn noise from GPS signals bouncing off the ocean into vital data about surface winds. It could see through rain. And because it consisted of eight observatories, it could take 32 wind speed measurements per second, sampling the entire width of the globe’s tropical hurricane belt every seven hours. That rapid data refresh rate is unheard of.

    2
    CYGNSS press conference with Sean Potter of NASA Communications; Chris Ruf, CYGNSS principal investigator; Aaron Ridley, CYGNSS constellation scientist and Mary Morris, U-M doctoral student. Credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

    At the press conference, Ruf outlined the status quo in ocean surface wind speed measurements. NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite could do the job, except for where it’s raining. Ruf showed a slide of its data.

    “The satellite orbit takes three days to come back around the same place,” Ruf told journalists. “This is fine for a lot of applications, but for extreme weather situations like hurricanes, where things change on the timescale of hours to maybe a day, it’s very likely that you will miss important parts of the evolution of the storm.”

    The National Science Board has considered understanding and predicting hurricane intensification, as well as the resulting storm surge, to be high science priorities for more than a decade.

    “Hurricane track forecasts have been steadily improving, so we’re much better at telling you where we think a hurricane will go than we were 20 years ago. But forecasts of intensity have not improved anywhere near as much.

    “The general consensus on why is because of our inability to measure what’s going on in the middle of the storm. If you can’t track the wind through the rain, you can’t track the storm’s kinetic energy, and you can’t track its evolution. What we’re hoping, in the end, is that our ability to forecast a hurricane’s strength will be much better thanks to CYGNSS.”

    3
    Alumnus Jeff Masters flew into the eyewall of Hurricane Hugo and lived to blog about it. He is co-founder and meteorology director of Weather Underground, one of the most popular weather outlets. Credit: Joseph Xu http://clasp.engin.umich.edu/articles/view/748#.WRczVHY2cZE

    Cyclone soldiers

    Masters had an uneasy feeling about Hugo’s eyewall as they approached it. No other plane had been in this storm yet, so nearly nothing was known about the vortex that was about to swallow them.

    They were entering at an unusually low altitude – as close as they could safely get to the water – to carry out the Hurricane Energetics Experiment. As far back as 1989, researchers were studying the mechanisms of intensification, as well as how the air and sea intermingle in the storm’s most turbulent altitudes.

    As the plane approached the eyewall, winds were reading only 60 mph. In retrospect, those readings may not have been accurate. Here’s an excerpt from Masters’ blog:

    “We hit the eyewall. Darkness falls. Powerful gusts of winds tear at the aircraft, slamming us from side to side. Torrential rains hammer the airplane. Through my rain-streaked window, I watch the left wingtip flex down a meter, then up a meter, then down two meters through the gloomy dark-grey twilight. My stomach is clenched into a tight knot. ….

    “I grab the computer console with both hands, trying to steady my vision on the blurred computer readouts. I don’t like what I see.”

    Wind readings hit 135 mph. Hugo was at least a Category 4. Masters wanted to climb to 5,000 feet, but it was taking the full power of the engines just to keep the plane level, he wrote. They’d have to push through.

    Wind readings hit 155 mph. Updrafts and downdrafts took the prop on a parabolic course that pushed them into their seats with twice the force of gravity, then lifted them, weightless. Gear flew around the plane.

    Wind readings hit 185 mph, gusting at 196. Hugo was officially a Category 5. And they were in the most turbulent altitude of its most turbulent spiral – the eyewall.

    “Thick, dark clouds suddenly enveloped the aircraft,” Masters wrote. They were sucked into a tornado-like vortex within the eyewall. They experienced a pressure of six times the force of gravity. They emerged into the calm eye, but they were falling. And an engine was on fire.

    “This is what it feels like to die in battle,” Masters thought.

    4
    Aaron Ridley, professor in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, is the CYGNSS Constellation Scientist. He wrote the code for the system’s complex orbital dynamics. Credit: Joseph Xu

    The constellation

    A dejected Aaron Ridley was walking down the hall of the Space Research Building at the start of the Winter 2012 semester. Ridley, a professor in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, had spent the past four months writing code for the orbital dynamics of a 40-satellite constellation set to study how solar storms evolve. Then, on Christmas Eve, he got a call from the project leader: They were abandoning the Armada proposal.

    Constellations are groups of satellites that operate as a single system. The US Global Positioning System, or GPS, is a constellation.

    Armada, with Ridley’s orbital dynamics, would have used a research satellite constellation in a brand new way – for rapid refresh of information in order to study things that happen fast. Typical satellites that pass over the same spot once or twice a day could miss the short-lived magnetic field disturbances that Armada was designed to record. The 40 observatories would create a sort of virtual camera burst mode.

    When Ridley ran into Ruf, he shared his news. “He was left high and dry after developing all the software for these orbits,” Ruf recalled.

    Both faculty members knew about a new NASA call for proposals to study Earth with low-cost satellites. Ridley had been exploring ideas with a colleague at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. They had an exciting platform. They just needed a problem for it to solve.

    Ruf had no plans to submit ideas. “I design clever little gadgets,” he said. He wasn’t in the business of leading NASA missions.

    But when Ridley asked him if he could think of anything to do with a “whole bunch of little satellites,” a light bulb went off.

    For roughly a decade, scientists had been trying to measure surface wind speeds with reflected GPS signals because they can penetrate rain.

    “They’re intentionally designed to operate at a very long wavelength, at 19 centimeters, “Ruf said, “so when you’re driving in your car, your navigation system works just fine when it’s raining.”

    One GPS receiver couldn’t give good enough coverage for comprehensive science.

    “But if you have a whole bunch of them,..” Ruf remembers thinking.

    5
    The blue dots stand for the 24 GPS satellites that constantly ping Earth’s surface and the yellow represent the CYGNSS satellites, which read the GPS signals that bounce of the ocean’s surface. Credit: CYGNSS team

    They set up a meeting. Ruf drew mock-ups. Ridley started cranking out new code for a system with fewer satellites. They calculated the global coverage and convinced themselves it would work. They submitted a proposal to NASA. They won.

    CYGNSS represents a new regime in research satellite constellations. Instead of using multiple sensors on one observatory to take many measurements in one place, it uses multiple satellites with a single sensor to measure in as many places as possible. What this approach offers is an opportunity to see a system’s dynamics – how it evolves over time.

    Over five years, six faculty members, 11 engineers at the Space Physics Research Lab and 20 students worked on CYGNSS at U-M. Ruf moved from designing clever little gadgets to clever big systems. Ridley earned the nickname Dr. Orbit.

    Launch day arrives

    On the morning of the scheduled launch, Ruf and Ridley had to be at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 3 a.m. Checklists hundreds of items long were waiting.

    “Some people start freaking out. I never freak out,” Ruf said. “I don’t build launch vehicles. So there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s like when you’re on an airplane. There’s someone in the cockpit who knows what they’re doing, and if something goes wrong, they’re either going to deal with it or they’re not.”

    Steady and ready to see the octuplets safely into the troposphere, Ruf headed to his front and center console at Hangar AE, the building that houses the mission control rooms.

    The satellites were folded carefully into the tip of a Pegasus air-launch rocket. This would be a different kind of launch – horizontal rather than the conventional vertical take-off. CYGNSS and Pegasus were strapped to the belly of an L1011 Stargazer aircraft, owned and operated by aerospace firm Orbital ATK. The aircraft would carry them to around 40,000 feet, then drop the rocket and payload. After falling for seven seconds the rocket would ignite and soar into space. NASA TV would broadcast live from a trailing Air Force jet.

    6
    The Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer aircraft is seen flying over the Atlantic. Attached beneath the aircraft is the Pegasus XL rocket with eight Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Lori Losey

    The engineers ticked through the ground-based launch readiness checklist. The Stargazer took off just after 7 a.m., heard but hardly seen through thick morning fog that threatened to thwart the attempt. Reporters cheered.

    The pilots steered around storm clouds and traffic en route to the “drop zone.” Then, at step 142, an unexpected anomaly. From Stargazer: “It appears our hydraulic pump is not working.”

    The pump controlled the mechanism that would release the rocket and CYGNSS. The Stargazer is an all-manual aircraft.

    It circled to buy time. Channel after channel had advice: Had they checked the circuit breakers? Yes. Had they gone into the galley and removed and reset the cannon plug? Yes. Had they tried energizing the pump multiple times in a row just to free the motor?

    “That’s been done many, many times,” came the voice from the Stargazer.

    It was near the end of the launch window when the plane arrived at the drop zone. Launch conductor Adam Lewis polled the channels for a final countdown. Weather? Green. Pegasus rocket?

    “Peg is red. Peg is red.”

    “OK,” Lewis said. He sighed. “Abort. Abort…Everybody proceed to the abort checklist at this time.”

    CYGNSS returned to Cape Canaveral. Disappointment hung in the air, but also stoicism. There’s a saying on the campus that nothing’s ever certain there until it’s done. So-called “scrubbed” launches are almost routine.

    By Monday afternoon, NASA had rescheduled the launch for Tuesday morning. But by evening, it was scrubbed again, moved to Wednesday. Then something else surfaced – an error in one of the parameters of CYGNSS’s data tables, like one bad number in an Excel spreadsheet. The value pertained to CYGNSS’s power system.

    It was easy to upload new data tables. But had the system launched with the wrong value, there may have been problems. This was a red flag for the team. They paused. They had to make sure this was isolated. They cancelled the launch, again.

    Ruf came into the hotel lobby around 10 pm Tuesday night. He had been holed up in official meetings much of the day. The following day, he’d have to make the call as to whether to try to launch or hold until January. He said some of his colleagues had teased him – said he had “launch fever.” They could see it in his eyes. He’d need to balance the desire to get the spacecraft in the air with the need to get it right. He knew that.

    At the Southwest Research Institute, where CYGNSS was assembled and tested, an “all hands” meeting was called and the engineers worked through the night running more tests.

    7
    A NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft like the one Masters used in 1989. With the launch of CYGNSS, scientists now have a satellite system to see into hurricanes.. https://flyawaysimulation.com/downloads/files/23615/fsx-noaa-hurricane-hunters-lockheed-wp-3d/

    Out of the storm

    Less than 900 feet above the water, Masters’ cockpit crew in NOAA 42 killed the burning engine and righted the aircraft, regaining control.

    “We are so low that I can see beneath the ragged bottom edge of the eyewall clouds, where Hugo’s 160 mph surface winds whip the ocean surface into a greenish-white blur,” Masters wrote.

    The plane entered a left roll that kept it “comfortably in the eye.” The immediate danger was past. But the only way out was back through the eyewall.

    They dumped fuel to lighten the craft so it could climb to a less turbulent altitude. No one talked about the “sick fear” they all shared.

    To their amazement and gratitude, an Air Force companion plane that was flying higher offered to test the eyewall to find a “soft spot” for them. After a few tries, the northeast section was proclaimed “not too bad.”

    They buckled their shoulder harnesses and held on. The two minutes of rough turbulence felt longer. The sun never looked so good, Masters wrote.

    Hugo eventually hit the Caribbean and a swath of the US coast, killing 61 people and causing $10 billion in damage. At the time, it was the most destructive storm in recorded history.

    The flight was Masters’ last as a Hurricane Hunter. He went on to co-found Weather Underground, one of the most popular weather forecasting outlets, which is now owned by IBM. While NOAA has yet to lose a crew to a storm, he’s not convinced this is the best way to gather this data. “It’s dangerous work, and it’s expensive,” he said.

    8
    Illustration of CYGNSS in orbit. Credit: NASA https://www.nasa.gov/feature/langley/cygnss-satellite-mission-aims-to-improve-hurricane-forecasting.

    Spreading its wings

    It wasn’t launch fever. When Ruf spoke to the engineers running the CYGNSS tests he was confident that the system was sound. On the clear morning of December 15, 2016 the launch sequence went forward again, and this time without a hitch.

    9
    CYGNSS rides in the tip of a Pegasus air-launch rocket as it blasts up from the belly of a jet that carried it partway to space. Credit: NASA TV

    “It is an amazingly rewarding feeling to spend such an intense and focused time working on CYGNSS and then, in a matter of just a few hours, have the entire constellation suddenly come to life,” Ruf said at the time.

    These complicated launches and built-from-scratch missions are expected to go smoothly, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to pull off.

    “Everything has to go right for the satellites to work and only one thing has to go wrong for them to not work,” Ridley said. “You can test and test and test, but you can’t be sure how they’ll function until they are actually launched into space. They work, which is fantastic.

    10
    In just 15 orbits over the course of a day, the CYGNSS constellation covers the globe’s hurricane belt latitudes. Credit: CYGNSS team

    CYGNSS is ready for tomorrow’s hurricanes. It’s a big step in the right direction, says Masters, who feels the US should be spending hundreds of millions per year studying these storms. They’re among the planet’s most powerful and expensive natural disasters.

    The record 2005 season, when Katrina, Wilma and Rita all made landfall, cost $151.9 billion. More recently, Irene, which slammed the East Coast in 2011, cost $17.4 billion.

    “The cost/benefit of hurricane research is huge,” Masters said. “The cost of evacuating a mile of coast is about $1 million per mile. If you make a better hurricane forecast and end up evacuating less coast, or the right part of the coast, you’ve saved a million. And making a bad decision costs lives. You want to make good forecasts because it saves lives and money.”

    And having CYGNSS in orbit, Ruf calculates, is like having 32 virtual Hurricane Hunter airplanes somewhere in the tropics at all times.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:54 pm on May 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Elizabeth Dreyer, U Michigan,   

    From U Michigan: Women in STEM – “Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Dreyer” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    April 21, 2017
    No writer credit found

    1
    Elizabeth Dreyer, Ph.D. Candidate, Electrical Engineering, Rackham Merit Fellowship

    Her sophomore year at Michigan Tech University, Liz discovered optics and fell in love with light. “To me waves make sense. In electrical engineering, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. In order for me to effectively contribute to the world, I needed to learn more about optics,” she explains.

    “In my junior year, I started thinking about grad school. I came to U-M for a conference and the female grad students convinced me to go for a Ph.D. My family and my husband’s family are from Michigan, so being an hour away from them was appealing. And of course, U-M is just an all-around great school.

    “I had my heart set on Michigan from the beginning.”

    It came down to this: “I don’t entirely know what I want to do when I grow up, but I want options. A Ph.D. from Michigan gives me those options. I chose electrical engineering because although I love working with light, I wanted that engineering degree. Engineer implies ‘problem solver,’ which would give me even more options. I don’t know if I will be an engineer for the rest of my life, and a Ph.D. from U-M is enough to open all kinds of doors.”

    Liz is a Rackham Merit Fellow and has always been intentional about her status as a first generation college student, wanting to find whatever ways to increase her chance for success as much as possible.

    As an RMF, she spent her first summer in Ann Arbor at the Summer Institute, which had a profound impact on her and developed a foundation for her graduate studies. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. It has been wonderful. Still, grad school is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I tell all incoming students, the first semester absolutely sucks. You’re not stupid, this is just really hard. You will get through it and you’ll be better on the other side.”

    Some of these lessons were hard to learn. “Classes were hard to adjust to. Although they say research should come first, you still need to care about your GPA. I had to learn when something was good enough. Now I tell younger students that their personal health is more important than their grades. It’s 11:00 PM, give up and go to bed. In grad school, often the answers just aren’t known. In research, you can always keep working, but at some point you need to draw the line in the sand and stop the research and write the thesis.”

    With a passion for policy that may shape her career trajectory after graduation, Liz completed a graduate certificate in Science Technology & Public Policy. She describes, “I have become a better communicator and am able to place my work and the work of others in a broader societal context. This program gave me a social and political framework for science policy.”

    As an undergrad, Liz was involved in more than a handful of student organizations but made a commitment at U-M to focus on just two extracurricular groups. She had been very involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and continues that involvement now with Grad SWE where she had been a co-chair or co-director for the last four years. Involved with the Optics Society (OSA), she founded a joint student chapter of OSA and the International Society of Optics and Photonics (SPIE). The first four years she served as president or secretary and now provides leadership on the national organization level.

    Despite her ‘two organization limit,’ her involvement level in those organizations has mushroomed. For example, 2015 was designated the International Year of Light by the United Nations to raise awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications and its importance to humankind. To mark the year, Liz helped lead light based outreach under the Michigan Light Project, a consortium of local and student organizations who planned light-based outreach at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, in Flint at Back to the Bricks, other events and schools throughout the year.

    Through the Society of Women Engineers, Liz has developed a partnership with a group of women engineers in Liberia. Noting a need for professional connections and support there, she is in her second year of facilitating a two week residential leadership camp for 30 female students in Liberia. She describes, “It’s done a lot for the women. We’ve had to talk to parents because many women had never spent a night away from home. These women have made fantastic friendships among themselves and with us. Facebook and Whatsapp have been amazing to connect us. This is an absolutely phenomenal experience for all of us.”

    On top of all of that, she’s actually in a Ph.D. program. Her lab is in the MURI Center for Dynamic Magneto-Optics, an interdisciplinary collaboration between different U-M departments and other universities to study a new class of optical phenomena that relate to energy conversion and magnetism.

    She explains, “For the last 60 years, when scientists looked at how light interacts with matter, they made assumptions that, although light is an electromagnetic wave, only the electric field component is strong enough to interact with matter. Therefore, they ignored the magnetic field component in most calculations. We are looking now at interactions that are mediated by interactions of electric field and then also by magnetic field – and out pop these new effects that have the potential to produce a significant amount of energy.”

    Liz examines magneto-electric scattering, shining high-powered lasers and controlling input light to focus on the scattered light and determine what’s happening to the material, particularly exploring what makes one material better than another. She says, “I am looking for materials that give highest response at lowest intensity to determine what could be an alternative to traditional photovoltaics. There are a lot of other questions to solve.”

    Liz has time to wait. She should defend her dissertation next August or December. Until then, she’ll keep working and contributing her best to her field, to her colleagues, and to the global engineering community.

    Where all of this takes her is unknown: “I like too many things. I know I’m not going to be a researcher for the rest of my life. I have too many interests; it would be a challenge for me to just stay in the lab. I’m interested in education but can be involved without being a professor. I can still do the outreach that I do. Teaching would be a good side project or retirement plan. I could work in industry for 20 years then be a professor of practice. I want to collaborate with the world, I want to be able to work with anyone in the world and be able to advance science and society.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U MIchigan Campus

    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

     
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