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Paul Braun

Researchers gain control over internal structure of self-assembled composite materials

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 08:42  

Composites made from self-assembling inorganic materials are valued for their unique strength and thermal, optical and magnetic properties. However, because self-assembly can be difficult to control, the structures formed can be highly disordered, leading to defects during large-scale production. Researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan have developed a templating technique that instills greater order and gives rise to new 3D structures in a special class of materials, called eutectics, to form new, high-performance materials.

Vidya Madhavan

Study: evidence for propagating Majorana quasiparticles in a topological superconductor

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 10:26  

Physicist Vidya Madhavan and colleagues find evidence for propagating Majorana quasiparticles in a topological superconductor.

Brian Jing and Chris Evans

New polymer material may help batteries become self-healing, recyclable

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 13:27  

Lithium-ion batteries are notorious for developing internal electrical shorts that can ignite a battery’s liquid electrolytes, leading to explosions and fires. Engineers at the University of Illinois have developed a solid polymer-based electrolyte that can self-heal after damage – and the material can also be recycled without the use of harsh chemicals or high temperatures.

The new study, which could help manufacturers produce recyclable, self-healing commercial batteries, is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Atom movement when stress is applied

Study: Stress changes the normal aging process of metallic glass

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 19:46  

Researchers in the Department of Materials Science at Illinois have found that by applying stress to metallic glasses, it is possible to disrupt the normal aging process of these alloys. The findings, published in Nature Communications, may contribute to an understanding of how to extend the life of this material.

David Cahill

David Cahill named 2019 AAAS Fellow

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 11:31  

Cahill is a Willett Professor of Engineering and was the department head of materials science and engineering from 2010-18. He is an expert on the concept of minimum thermal conductivity and transient optical measurement techniques. His research program focuses on developing a microscopic understanding of thermal transport at the nanoscale; the discovery of materials with enhanced thermal function; the interactions between phonons, electrons, photons and spin; and advancing fundamental understanding of interfaces between materials and water.

Hoffmann and Van der Zande named 2019 Highly Cited Researchers

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 11:37  

Hoffmann is a Founder Professor in materials science and engineering and a member of the Materials Research Laboratory. His research focuses on topics related to magnetism, such as spin transport, magnetization dynamics and biomedical applications. His work on spin Hall effects has contributed to the development of spintronics, electronic devices that harness electron spin for faster and more efficient computing. Hoffmann is a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Bent Graphene

Graphene: The more you bend it, the softer it gets

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 11:08  

Graduate student Edmund Han, left, professor Elif Ertekin, graduate student Jaehyung Yu, professor Pinshane Y. Huang, front, and professor Arend M. van der Zande have determined how much energy it takes to bend multilayer graphene – a question that has long eluded scientists.


Qian Chen and graduate students

Crystallization clarified, researchers report

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 15:21  

By Lois Yoksoulian, News Bureau

Professor Qian Chen, seated, and graduate students Binbin Luo, left, and Zihao Ou collaborated with researchers at Northwestern University to observe and simulate the formation of crystalline materials at a much higher resolution than before.

Photo by Fred Zwicky

Nadya Mason

Nadya Mason receives 2020 Edward A. Bouchet Award of the American Physical Society

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 10:45  

Nadya Mason, Professor of Physics and Director of Illinois MRSEC, has won the 2020 Edward A. Bouchet Award of the American Physical Society (APS). This award recognizes a distinguished underrepresented-minority physicist who has made significant contributions to physics research and the advancement of scientists from underrepresented groups.

Illinois awarded NSF Research Training (NRT) grant for materials/data science program

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 11:41  
The NRT materials/data science team includes (back row from left) Lucas Wagner (Physics), Bo Li (Statistics), and Harley Johnson (MechSE, Associate Dean for Research). (Front row from left): Klara Nahrstedt (CS, Director of Coordinated Science Laboratory), Dallas Trinkle (MatSE), and Pinshane Huang (MatSE).
HEDAT project

High-energy battery project receives $2M, 2-year grant from Army Corps of Engineers

Tue, 10/15/2019 - 11:52  

​The project, High Energy Density Anode Technologies (HEDATs), is focused on the basic science underpinning high-energy anodes, solid electrolytes, dense cathodes and the interfaces in such systems. Creating the next-generation of technologies to enable safe, reliable, and high-performance energy storage is the goal of this foundational research.

Chancellor Jones Visits MRL

Mon, 09/30/2019 - 16:23  

MRL, MRSEC, and IQUIST gave an overview of facilities, research, and educational outreach, and the Chancellor got a tour of two of the latest acquisitions, the Cameca Atom Probe and the Themis STEM Lab. Students presented some of their recent work.

Paul Kenis named to Electrochemical Society 2019 Class of Fellows

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 14:28  

Kenis, the Elio E. Tarika Endowed Chair and head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was cited for his exceptional contributions to the invention, characterization and development of innovative processes based on microfluidic systems for diverse applications in electrochemical energy conversion, chemical synthesis, and biology. 

Professor Catherine Murphy

2020 American Chemical Society national award winners

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 09:42  

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced their 2020 national award winners. MRL faculty including Professor Catherine Murphy, Professor Jeffrey Moore and Professor Ken Suslick are among the winners. They will be honored at an awards ceremony on March 24, 2020 in Philadelphia, which coincides with the ACS Spring National Meeting. The ACS National Awards program is designed to encourage the advancement of chemistry in all its branches, to support research in chemical science and industry, and to promote the careers of chemists.


2019-20 PPG-MRL Research Assistant Awards

Thu, 08/08/2019 - 10:05  


James Carpenter, Ahyoung Kim, Maggie Potter, Dhawal Thakare, and Chengxi Zhao have been awarded PPG-MRL Graduate Research Assistantships to pursue cutting-edge research broadly related to the areas of interest to PPG.

Pinshane Huang and Prashant Jain Receive Presidential Early Career Award

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 14:56  

The highest honor the government can bestow on independent researchers is the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. MRL is proud to announce that Professor Pinshane Huang and Prashant Jain were chosen for their "exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology."

Read the White House's press release here.

A team including, from left, postdoctoral researcher Ziyuan Song, professor Jianjun Cheng and graduate students Tianrui Xue and Lazaro Pacheco, developed a new method that streamlines the construction of amino acid building blocks that can be used in a multitude of industrial and pharmaceutical applications.   Photo by L. Brian Stauffer Images

Researchers develop fast, efficient way to build amino acid chains

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 13:30  

JUN 6, 2019 8:30 AM BY ANANYA SEN  | NEWS BUREAU SCIENCE WRITER  | 217-333-5802

Scientists often build new protein molecules by stringing groups of amino acids together. These amino acid chains, called polypeptides, are the building blocks needed in drug development and the creation of new biomaterials.

SEM image of ruptured microcapsules containing a healing agent.

Materials Today Lab Profile: Nancy Sottos

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 13:00  

Imagine polymer materials that can heal themselves when damaged or change color when under stress. Or polymer gels that can mimic blood clotting to protect and regenerate damaged vascular networks. Nancy Sottos of the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) did just that and has devoted her career to the development of materials systems inspired by nature’s ability to design self-healing, self-regenerating, self-reporting, and self-protecting materials.

Prashant Jain and Sungju Yu

Jain Group: Artificial photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide into liquefiable fuels

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 16:00  

By Lois Yoksoulian, Physical Sciences Editor, Illinois News Bureau

Chemists at the University of Illinois have successfully produced fuels using water, carbon dioxide and visible light through artificial photosynthesis. By converting carbon dioxide into more complex molecules like propane, green energy technology is now one step closer to using excess CO2 to store solar energy – in the form of chemical bonds – for use when the sun is not shining and in times of peak demand.

Schroeder and Zhou

Schroeder Group: Polymers jump through hoops on pathway to sustainable materials

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 14:30  

by Lois Yoksoulian, Physical Sciences Editor, Illinois News Bureau

Recyclable plastics that contain ring-shaped polymers may be a key to developing sustainable synthetic materials. Despite some promising advances, researchers said, a full understanding of how to processes ring polymers into practical materials remains elusive. In a new study, researchers identified a mechanism called “threading” that takes place when a polymer is stretched – a behavior not witnessed before. This new insight may lead to new processing methods for sustainable polymer materials.