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  • richardmitnick 9:25 am on September 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Where ethics; welfare; and sustainability meet swine", , , For most farmers farming is not just a livelihood it’s a lifestyle. So if they lose social license not only do they lose their livelihood but they lose their lifestyle., Parsons and his colleagues have spent years crafting and refining their swine unit at Penn with the aim of making pig farms more sustainable nationwide., Swine Teaching and Research Center at the New Bolton Center campus., University of Pennsylvania   

    From Penn Today: “Where ethics, welfare, and sustainability meet swine” 


    From Penn Today

    September 3, 2019
    Gina Vitale
    Eric Sucar, Photographer

    At New Bolton Center’s model pig farm, free-roaming sows are implanted with RFID chips, nourished by organic feed, and powered by solar energy.

    1
    Thomas Parsons, director of Penn Vet’s Swine Teaching and Research Center, cradles a piglet at the school’s facility on the New Bolton Center campus. Parsons and colleagues have worked for years to improve animal welfare and environmental sustainability at the swine unit, and with recent improvements, are setting a new standard for the industry.

    At Penn Vet’s Swine Unit at New Bolton Center, 500-pound pigs squeal and strut in a sunny outdoor pen. Thomas Parsons, professor of swine production medicine and director of the Swine Teaching and Research Center, leans down to pat them on their sides as they sniff at his denim overalls.

    Parsons and his colleagues have spent years crafting and refining their swine unit at Penn with the aim of making pig farms more sustainable nationwide. Their “farm of the future,” with humane conditions and efficient use of resources, stands to reshape the environmental and social impacts of raising swine.

    The way Parsons sees it, to define a pig farm as sustainable, it must be both socially acceptable and economically viable.

    “For most farmers, farming is not a livelihood, it’s a lifestyle,” Parsons says. “And so if they lose that social license, not only do they lose their livelihood, but they lose their lifestyle.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:09 am on August 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Materials for a more sustainable future", , , , , University of Pennsylvania   

    From Penn Today: “Materials for a more sustainable future” 


    From Penn Today

    August 12, 2019
    Erica K. Brockmeier Writer
    Eric Sucar Photographer

    Using a collaborative approach and their expertise in fundamental chemical research, new Chemistry Department faculty member Thomas Mallouk and his group address challenges faced by engineers and materials scientists.

    1
    Thomas Mallouk is the new Vagelos Professor in Energy Research who brought his lab to Penn in May. His group conducts fundamental chemistry research that helps solve problems faced by engineers and materials scientists.

    On the second floor of the Chemistry 1958 building, just above the general chemistry labs, the Mallouk research group is busy at work. Between long lines of lab benches, computer desks, and even a small glassblowing workshop, their work spans a wide range of applications, from motors smaller than the width of a human hair to biologically-inspired solar batteries.

    Thomas Mallouk, who came to Penn’s Department of Chemistry in May, and his team work in the area of materials chemistry and have several ongoing projects on renewable energy and sustainability. Mallouk is also the Vagelos Professor in Energy Research at the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology (VIEST), where he will support ongoing and burgeoning collaborations between the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

    Mallouk and the students in his lab bring a unique approach to fundamental chemistry research. “Our most effective work has been taking somebody else’s problem, often an engineering or physics problem, fields populated by very smart people who have one thing in common: They’re not going to synthesize something new,” explains Mallouk. “Then we try to apply what we know about chemistry to their problem.”

    2
    Graduate student Jeremy Hitt, who also works on fuel cells alongside Yan, enjoys the open culture of the Mallouk lab, where everyone is willing to lend a hand and eager to collaborate with other researchers.

    One problem that Mallouk is excited to pursue further is energy conversion and energy storage in solar cells. Because solar energy is costly to store, the energy has to be used or converted at the same time it’s collected. A viable long-term storage solution would allow solar energy to be used during seasons or days when there is less light available, and Mallouk’s group is focused on gaining fundamental insights using electrochemistry research to get there.

    Several researchers in his group, including graduate student Zhifei Yan, use inspiration from biology to build dye-sensitized solar cells that convert solar energy into electricity, hydrogen, or other energy-rich fuels such as methanol. “It’s an inorganic mimic of a biological system, like a plant,” explains Yan. “The ‘leaf’ absorbs the energy, and then it oxidizes water into oxygen and reduces carbon dioxide into compounds that store energy in chemical bonds.”

    3
    Post-doc Luis De Jesus Baez works on 2D materials, atomically-thin synthetic materials that exhibit new properties because their atoms are confined to two dimensions. He was recently awarded the IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists for Best Ph.D. Thesis.

    The Mallouk lab also works on 2D materials, atomically-thin synthetic materials that exhibit new properties due to their atoms being confined to two dimensions. Postdoc Luis de Jesús Baez is studying the different aspects of these unique materials, and how their properties can be tuned. “We can synthesize, stabilize, and make the materia] better. We can functionalize their structures and make them do specific work, like CO2 reduction or for energy storage in batteries and supercapacitors,” de Jesús Baez says.

    But it’s not all about energy. The Mallouk lab has also been working with autonomously powered nanoscale and microscale swimmers, about the size of a bacterial cell, that are propelled by either electrochemical reactions or ultrasound. Graduate student Jeff McNeill is looking for ways to control their movements using magnetism and is also exploring ways to power the microrobots with different fuels, like urea or glucose, so they could be used inside of the human body.

    And while these microscopic swimmers have a number of possible applications, from cleaning wastewater to delivering drugs, Mallouk says he enjoys working on this project in part for the fun of it. “The problem of anthropogenic climate change has become increasingly urgent, and this motivates our focus on energy-related projects. But we also want to explore pure science questions, and that is what our nanomotor project is about,” he says.

    4
    Along with the nanomotors project, McNeil is also working with a type of nanowire that moves in unexpected patterns in response to acoustic waves. They are working with physicists in France to try to understand the theoretical underpinnings of this phenomenon.

    Whether the group is focused on sustainability, energy, or miniaturized motors, the approach is always the same: Focusing on problems and using their expertise in materials chemistry to find a solution. “We want to solve problems by understanding the fundamental processes that are happening and then solving it little by little,” says de Jesús Baez. “There is beauty in tackling problems by considering different perspectives.”

    By actively collaborating with other groups, including several engineering labs, the members of Mallouk’s group are able to diversify their skillsets and focus on problems without limiting themselves to one method or area of study. “It’s easier to do interdisciplinary work,” says Yan about their group’s approach. “We borrow from other areas, so we won’t limit ourselves to just electrochemistry. We just solve the problem.”

    But because of the broader nature of their work, de Jesús Baez says, collaborations are instrumental for delving deeply when a problem requires a closer look. “Sometimes you want to get into that specific detail that will really hit the nail on the head. If you look from too high you may forget to look at the small things, and collaborations help you maintain this view in focus,” he says.

    Because of the importance of collaboration in his group’s progress, Mallouk says that coming to Penn at this stage of his 34-year career was the perfect move. “More and more, chemistry is becoming very interdisciplinary and integrated with other sciences, and that happens here at Penn a lot. There’s an opportunity for a tremendous number of new collaborations here,” he says.

    Mallouk’s students and postdocs, all of whom were responsible for physically packing up the lab and shipping the numerous boxes of equipment and supplies to Philadelphia earlier this summer, are also looking forward to the new types of research that they can do here. “It will be really nice having the med school right there,” says McNeill. “I could envision myself sitting down with a physician and saying, ‘What can we do with these nanomotors and materials that would be beneficial to you?’”

    Mallouk is also looking forward to working with VIEST, where he will serve on the executive committee and manage resource allocations for internal grant proposals. He also hopes to gain some externally-funded projects on energy in the future. VIEST “is a lively place that brings people together with all different kinds of expertise and gets us talking and thinking of energy-relevant ideas,” says Mallouk.

    VIEST director Karen Goldberg says that bringing Mallouk to Penn is a huge win for the Institute. “We are looking forward to Mallouk playing a leading role in our solar energy conversion efforts. His expertise in electrochemistry and materials is unparalleled, and his team brings unique vision, tremendous knowledge, diverse instrumentation, and wonderful scientific curiosity and enthusiasm,” she says.

    Mallouk will be teaching general chemistry in the fall and is looking forward to “assembling an army” of undergrads for his lab. They will join the 10 graduate students and two postdocs who moved with him from Pennsylvania State University, as well as two new Ph.D. students who have joined the group at Penn. But looking beyond his first year of teaching and getting his lab established, Mallouk says that he’s excited for what the future has in store for his research group.

    “I want to continue to work on good fundamental science,” he says. “We often diffuse into areas just from a chance conversation, but we’ve had a very long focus on energy, an increasingly urgent problem, so I want to continue to work in that area.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:09 am on August 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How to make a better water filter? Turn it inside out", , More than 800 million people lack access to clean and safe water., Nanoscale water filters, , University of Pennsylvania   

    From Penn Today: “How to make a better water filter? Turn it inside out” 


    From Penn Today

    August 9, 2019
    Erica K. Brockmeier

    1

    More than 800 million people lack access to clean and safe water. Recent advances in water filtration technology have created new ways to filter water and make it drinkable, but many of these applications are too costly and cumbersome to be used in remote parts of the world. Reverse osmosis, for example, can make sea water drinkable, but the process is incredibly expensive and requires a large amount of energy.

    A new study from the lab of Chinedum Osuji describes a novel way to create nanoscale water filters that are flexible and robust, and even have antimicrobial properties. Postdocs Xunda Feng, now at Donghua University, and Yizhou Zhang and graduate student Qaboos Imran are the co-first authors of this paper. Their work was published in Science Advances.

    When designing a nanoscale filter, engineers usually start with something that resembles a microscopic strainer or a sieve. Water travels through individual holes that are spread along the strainer and are held together by a solid material that fills the space around them.

    Osuji’s group, which includes experts in modifying the chemistries of block polymers, large chains of molecules with large “blocks” of repeated sequences, found something unexpected while studying another similar material. Their discovery led them to “inverting” their design strategy: Turning the “holes” of the strainer into solid fibers, leaving the previously solid portions of the structure open.

    “But if you then take a material like this, why won’t these fibrils just float apart?” Osuji asks. The group recognized that the material was comprised of something akin to a complex mesh of interconnected threads, or fibers, but with the important distinction that the space between the fibers was explicitly defined by the structure of the molecule that made up the fiber. They realized that the fiber’s seemingly random “topological interconnectedness” held the structure together while still allowing water to flow through.

    2
    A diagram of how the nanofilters are made (top panel) and their microscopic structure (bottom panel). After the polymer molecules self-assemble in solution (top left), the selectivity of the nanofiltration membrane (top middle) was tested by measuring its ability to remove dye (top right). An illustration (bottom left) shows how the fibers of the nanofilter remove contaminants from water, with its mesh-like patterns clearly visible using atomic force microscopy. (Image: Xunda Feng)

    Using this novel “inverted” approach, the group created and tested membranes, bringing ideas to life by combining unique nanostructures devised by Feng using methods for fabrication and characterization developed by Imran and Zhang. Zhang, who has expertise in the area of membrane fabrication, joined the group soon after Osuji came to Penn last fall, and Zhang played a key role in collecting critical transport data.

    “Historically the group’s expertise has been in manipulating and characterizing the structure of materials, and we didn’t know how to translate that into a real working membrane,” says Imran. “We had a proof-of-concept, but it took us some time to make it a reality, to get to a point that both the membrane community and the materials community can appreciate. ”

    The material, similar in composition to polymers previously used in hard contact lenses, was also engineered with cross-links between individual fibers to add support to the material. The polymer also includes chemical structures that give the filter antimicrobial properties, meaning that the material won’t become clogged by bacteria during water purification.

    The group is now studying new processes to make the material so it can be thin enough to fit within the existing nanofiltration workflow. They also see this approach as useful for future applications beyond water filtration. “At the end of the day, this is a precisely structured porous material with versatile surface chemistry, so you could imagine many applications,” says Imran. “It can be a membrane in a fuel cell or in a battery.”

    For Zhang, the impact of their latest study comes from what they learned about the material itself in the process of characterizing it. “This is a new nanostructure for membranes, and it’s exciting to have proposed it and demonstrated its utility. It’s also exciting because the structure can be leveraged in applications beyond nanofiltration,” he says.

    Osuji is also eager to see how their unique, inverted approach might be used in the future. “On first inspection, it’s this unexpected idea that you can make membranes using this sort of approach. Once you understand that, you can just change the chemistry, target different applications, so I hope that others will follow this approach,” he says.

    In terms of water purification, Osuji hopes to see nanofiltration become more widely adopted as a way to remove harmful chemicals without the costs associated with other techniques. “Reverse osmosis is highly developed and very efficient at removing all but the most challenging contaminants, but there are places where it is not cost effective, such as in the treatment of brackish water, treatment of industrial wastewater before discharge, or water softening. There is a possibility to push these new membranes into those regimes,” he says.

    This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants PFI:AIR-TT IIP-1640375, CBET-1703494, DMR-1119826, and DMR-1410568, and by the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:19 pm on April 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , P. Roy Vagelos C’50 PAR’90 HON’99 and Diana T. Vagelos PAR’90 have made a gift of $50 million to Penn Arts & Sciences for a new science center to house researchers focused on energy scienc, University of Pennsylvania   

    From University of Pennsylvania: “Record gift from Roy and Diana Vagelos to create new energy science and technology building” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    April 4, 2019
    Amanda Mott

    1
    Roy and Diana Vagelos

    P. Roy Vagelos, C’50, PAR’90, HON’99, and Diana T. Vagelos, PAR’90, have made a gift of $50 million to Penn Arts & Sciences for a new science center to house researchers focused on energy science. In support of the Power of Penn Arts & Sciences Campaign, the gift is the largest in the School’s history.

    The new building will be named in honor of Roy and Diana Vagelos and located at 32nd and Walnut Streets. It will provide state-of-the-art research space that connects physical scientists and engineers. The new Penn Arts & Sciences and Penn Engineering facility will house the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology, which brings together researchers from both Schools to solve scientific and technological problems related to energy. It will also be a home for the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER), an undergraduate dual degree program run jointly by Arts & Sciences and Engineering.

    “Roy and Diana are extraordinarily strong, prescient, and generous supporters of Penn’s highest priorities,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Sustainable energy solutions are among our nation’s most pressing needs. Supporting pathbreaking energy research is a key priority of the Power of Penn Campaign. We know that Penn’s distinctively interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to energy solutions provides the path to progress. I am deeply grateful for Roy and Diana’s longtime partnership and this exceptional support of our stellar researchers in energy science.”

    The new building represents Penn’s commitment to energy research and capitalizes on growing momentum across the University. It will be an incubator for scientists and engineers to engage in cross-disciplinary work and train postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates as future leaders in the field.

    Steven J. Fluharty, Dean and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience, says, “At this critical moment for energy research, I am delighted by the generous gift from Roy and Diana. Creating a sustainable planet is a priority for the Power of Penn Arts & Sciences Campaign and the new building is a vital part of that effort. It will be host to the forward-thinking, creative work of Penn’s scientists and engineers and facilitate the collaborative solutions that the problem demands.”

    “This transformative gift will supercharge Penn Engineering’s interdisciplinary and innovative culture, while nucleating new collaborations with Penn Arts & Sciences,” says Vijay Kumar, Nemirovsky Family Dean. “There is no bigger challenge for our planet than the creation, storage, and conversion of energy in a clean, efficient and cost-effective way. Penn engineers and scientists are partners in working toward a sustainable future.”

    “Energy research has been important to me and to Diana for years,” says Vagelos. “We’ve seen students and faculty doing extraordinary work and our hope is that this new building will provide the home and resources that this effort needs to create solutions.”

    P. Roy Vagelos, a chemistry major who graduated from Penn in 1950 before going on to receive a medical degree from Columbia University, is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Vagelos served as Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1995 to 1999, and he is a former member of the Penn Arts & Sciences’ Board of Overseers and the founding Chair of the Committee for Undergraduate Financial Aid. Diana T. Vagelos is a former overseer of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

    The Vageloses’ longtime support of Penn Arts & Sciences includes the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology, the Vagelos Professorships in Energy Research, VIPER, and several other science-related programs, undergraduate scholarships, and endowed professorships.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:15 am on March 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Women in Physics Group inspires the next generation of physicists and astronomers", , , University of Pennsylvania,   

    From University of Pennsylvania: “Women in Physics Group inspires the next generation of physicists and astronomers” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    March 22, 2019

    Credits

    Erica K. Brockmeier Writer
    Eric Sucar Photographer

    1
    Willman (center) and a group of undergraduates, including physics majors as well as students studying other STEM-related disciplines, chatted informally over breakfast about their personal experiences as STEM students and researchers.

    Earlier this month, Penn’s Women in Physics group hosted its fifth annual spring conference and networking event. Students had the opportunity to meet informally and share their work with Beth Willman, a world-renowned astronomer and deputy director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

    LSST


    LSST Camera, built at SLAC



    LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.


    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    Providing access to strong role models is just one of the goals of the undergraduate led group, which was founded in 2013 to support women studying physics through scholarship, mentorship, and social activities.

    “It’s a positive message that [Willman] is a strong, leading woman in a field that’s usually dominated by men,” says junior Olivia Sylvester from Mendham, New Jersey, a board member of the group. “In addition to learning about what she has to say about her research, you’re also taking in the fact that she’s probably overcome a lot of barriers to achieve such great success.”

    The conference kicked off with a casual morning get-together as Willman and a group of undergraduates chatted over coffee and breakfast. Students shared their experiences at Penn, with several indicating that they felt the atmosphere in the Department of Physics & Astronomy was generally welcoming and inclusive for women.

    After being introduced to several researchers in the department and sharing lunch with the Society of Physics group, undergraduate students presented the results of their summer research projects to Willman.

    First-year student Jen Locke from Ambler, Pennsylvania, presented her work from the lab of Masao Sako, an associate professor and undergraduate chair of the physics and astronomy department, on visualizing new planet candidates located in the Kuiper belt.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    Next summer, Locke will work on developing a search strategy for finding new objects in the LSST database, a project that will likely involve Willman to a certain extent.

    Junior Alex Ulin from Los Angeles talked about her NASA internship on the flower-shaped starshade, a complex foldable structure that will make it easier to take pictures of potentially habitable planets that are difficult to visualize because of the brightness of the sun.

    NASA JPL Starshade

    Ulin, who wants to study materials science after graduation, worked on how to cut the nanometers-thin sheets of metal so they can cover the 20-meters-wide, origami-like structure as precisely as possible.

    Senior Abby Lee from St. Paul, Minnesota, who is advised by Gary Bernstein, the Reese W. Flower Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, presented the results of her research on selecting features for a physical model that describes dark matter subhalo disruption. These events, which happen when the circular “halo” around stars and galaxies interact with black holes or large areas of dark matter, can now be visualized thanks to improvements in technology but now require models that can help describe their behavior.

    Caterpillar Project A Milky-Way-size dark-matter halo and its subhalos circled, an enormous suite of simulations . Griffen et al. 2016

    Throughout the student presentations, Willman asked questions that ranged from the technical to the philosophical. Ulin, who also sits on the board for the Women in Physics group, says that these types of projects, as well as having researchers and mentors who can provide meaningful feedback on results, are instrumental experiences for undergraduate students in physics. “Talking to someone that you see having a success in the field can really inspire you to consider research and a career in STEM,” she says.

    The final event of the conference was a public lecture from Willman. More than 70 students, faculty, and other members of the Penn community attended her presentation, “The Most Magnificent Map Ever Made.” Willman, who is a Philadelphia native, says that the LSST is poised to become one the most productive scientific endeavors of all time. The project will look at half of the sky over 1,000 times across a 10-year period, and each image it collects will be 3.2 billion pixels large.

    2
    In 2022, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will embark on a 10-year mission to map half the sky. Willman discussed this ambitious project, as well as how the data could revolutionize the field of astronomy, during a public lecture that was held at Houston Hall.

    But Willman says that LSST’s real impact will come from distributing data in “science-ready” formats that can be used and studied easily. Through open-data initiatives that reduce barriers and enable people from a broad range of backgrounds to get involved with astronomy, Willman says that both scientists and society can benefit. “Everything that’s required in the future of scientific progress requires diversity,” she says. “Bringing ideas and people together is beneficial, and science needs as many viewpoints as possible.”

    Junior Abby Timmel from Baltimore, the third board member of the group, says that researchers like Willman who teach from their own experience instead of a textbook can do a lot to inspire students. “This event shows what it looks like to be really successful in physics, how to take the things that you’re learning about and go further with them to really make an impact,” she says.

    With more than 30 active members and a number of events throughout the year, the members of Women in Physics will continue working on their own “magnificent map” as they chart a course towards improved inclusion in STEM.

    Their annual conference is just one example of how important making connections and providing encouragement are for students in STEM. “It spreads awareness that there is a group for women physicists, but I also think that having an event that we’ve organized helps people respect the idea of a group like this,” says Ulin. “They see that not only are we trying to be a support system, we’re also actively doing things for the community.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:00 pm on March 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A Swiss cheese-like material’ that can solve equations", , , , , University of Pennsylvania   

    From University of Pennsylvania: “A Swiss cheese-like material’ that can solve equations” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    March 21, 2019

    Credits

    Evan Lerner, Gwyneth K. Shaw Media Contacts
    Eric Sucar Photographer

    Engineering professor Nader Engheta and his team have demonstrated a metamaterial device that can function as an analog computer, validating an earlier theory about ‘photonic calculus.’

    1
    Nader Engheta (center), the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, and lab members Brian Edwards and Nasim Mohammadi Estakhri conducted the pathbreaking work in Engheta’s lab.

    The field of metamaterials involves designing complicated, composite structures, some of which can manipulate electromagnetic waves in ways that are impossible in naturally occurring materials.

    For Nader Engheta of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, one of the loftier goals in this field has been to design metamaterials that can solve equations. This “photonic calculus” would work by encoding parameters into the properties of an incoming electromagnetic wave and sending it through a metamaterial device; once inside, the device’s unique structure would manipulate the wave in such a way that it would exit encoded with the solution to a pre-set integral equation for that arbitrary input.

    In a paper published in Science, Engheta and his team demonstrated such a device for the first time.

    Their proof-of-concept experiment was conducted with microwaves, as the long wavelengths allowed for an easier-to-construct macro-scale device. The principles behind their findings, however, can be scaled down to light waves, eventually fitting onto a microchip.

    Such metamaterial devices would function as analog computers that operate with light, rather than electricity. They could solve integral equations—ubiquitous problems in every branch of science and engineering—orders of magnitude faster than their digital counterparts, while using less power.

    2
    The demonstration device is 2-foot-square, made of a milled type of polystyrene plastic.

    Engheta, the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, conducted the study along with lab members Nasim Mohammadi Estakhri and Brian Edwards.

    This approach has its roots in analog computing. The first analog computers solved mathematical problems using physical elements, such as slide-rules and sets of gears, that were manipulated in precise ways to arrive at a solution. In the mid-20th century, electronic analog computers replaced the mechanical ones, with series of resistors, capacitors, inductors, and amplifiers replacing their predecessors’ clockworks.

    Such computers were state-of-the-art, as they could solve large tables of information all at once, but were limited to the class of problems they were pre-designed to handle. The advent of reconfigurable, programmable digital computers, starting with ENIAC, constructed at Penn in 1945, made them obsolete.

    As the field of metamaterials developed, Engheta and his team devised a way of bringing the concepts behind analog computing into the 21st century. Publishing a theoretical outline for “photonic calculus” in Science in 2014, they showed how a carefully designed metamaterial could perform mathematical operations on the profile of a wave passing thought it, such as finding its first or second derivative.

    Now, Engheta and his team have performed physical experiments validating this theory and expanding it to solve equations.

    “Our device contains a block of dielectric material that has a very specific distribution of air holes,” Engheta says. “Our team likes to call it ‘Swiss cheese.’”

    The Swiss cheese material is a kind of polystyrene plastic; its intricate shape is carved by a CNC milling machine.

    “Controlling the interactions of electromagnetic waves with this Swiss cheese metastructure is the key to solving the equation,” Estakhri says. “Once the system is properly assembled, what you get out of the system is the solution to an integral equation.”

    “This structure,” Edwards adds, “was calculated through a computational process known as ‘inverse design,’ which can be used to find shapes that no human would think of trying.”

    3

    The pattern of hollow regions in the Swiss cheese is predetermined to solve an integral equation with a given “kernel,” the part of the equation that describes the relationship between two variables. This general class of such integral equations, known as “Fredholm integral equations of the second kind,” is a common way of describing different physical phenomena in a variety of scientific fields. The pre-set equation can be solved for any arbitrary inputs, which are represented by the phases and magnitudes of the waves that are introduced into the device.

    “For example,” Engheta says, “if you were trying to plan the acoustics of a concert hall, you could write an integral equation where the inputs represent the sources of the sound, such as the position of speakers or instruments, as well as how loudly they play. Other parts of the equation would represent the geometry of the room and the material its walls are made of. Solving that equation would give you the volume at different points in the concert hall.”

    In the integral equation that describes the relationship between sound sources, room shape and the volume at specific locations, the features of the room — the shape and material properties of its walls — can be represented by the equation’s kernel. This is the part the Penn Engineering researchers are able to represent in a physical way, through the precise arrangement of air holes in their metamaterial Swiss cheese.

    “Our system allows you to change the inputs that represent the locations of the sound sources by changing the properties of the wave you send into the system,” Engheta says, “but if you want to change the shape of the room, for example, you will have to make a new kernel.”

    The researchers conducted their experiment with microwaves; as such, their device was roughly two square feet, or about eight wavelengths wide and four wavelengths long.

    “Even at this proof-of-concept stage, our device is extremely fast compared to electronics,” Engheta says. “With microwaves, our analysis has shown that a solution can be obtained in hundreds of nanoseconds, and once we take it to optics the speed would be in picoseconds.”

    Scaling down the concept to the scale where it could operate on light waves and be placed on a microchip would not only make them more practical for computing, it would open the doors to other technologies that would enable them to be more like the multipurpose digital computers that first made analog computing obsolete decades ago.

    “We could use the technology behind rewritable CDs to make new Swiss cheese patterns as they’re needed,” Engheta says. “Some day you may be able to print your own reconfigurable analog computer at home!”

    Nader Engheta is the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

    The research was supported by the Basic Research Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering through its Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship program and by the Office of Naval Research through Grant N00014-16-1-2029.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
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