Making Complex 3-D Surfaces with 2-D Sheets

Making Faces (red) graphic

Jiffy pop, an aluminum foil pan full of popcorn kernels and oil, is a staple of camping trips. Because of the way the pan is designed, when placed above an open campfire the kernels expand the aluminum top as they heat and pop, ultimately resulting in a bag of popcorn. The aluminum is lined with … Read more

Making Atomic thin sheets stand up for better energy storage

Making Atomic Thin Sheets Stand up for Better Energy Storage graphic

When it comes to cell phones, there are fewer things more frustrating than a short battery life. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University reported a novel and scalable approach to prepare electrodes from atomic thin 2D nanosheets in the vertical orientation via self-assembly (see publication in Nature). The method marries soft matter assembly and functional hard nanomaterials … Read more

Mimicking Giant Clams to Enhance the Production of Biofuel

Mimicking Giant Clams to Enhance the Production of Biofuel graphic

Alison Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania has been studying giant clams. She refer to the clams as “solar transformers” because they are capable of absorbing bright sunlight at a very high rate and scattering it over a large surface area. When the light is distributed evenly among the thick layer of algae living inside the clam, … Read more

Creating Ultra-lightweight Materials That Expand With Heat

Creating Ultra-lightweight Materials That Expand With Heat

When it comes to taking up room without adding too much weight, the bubble can’t be beat. Because they are mostly air, they’re ultra-lightweight and can expand to fill any given space. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) found a way to exploit these properties of … Read more

Surprising Insights Into the White Spots on Butterfly Wings

Ge 2017 PNAS butterfly graphic

A collaboration between biologists and materials scientists at the University of Pennsylvania is yielding new insights into the wings of the “skipper butterfly” in the Costa Rican rainforest. What they learn could lead to technological advancements in systems ranging from power-efficient computer displays to sensors to energy efficient buildings, windows and vehicles. Read more

Nanotech garment will gather health information through sweat

Nano shirt

Wearable technology requires materials that are both flexible and functional, so developers often look to polymers or to make harder materials as thin as possible. “So we’re taking inspiration from clothing” to make a new kind of wearable health tracking device that gathers information from its wearer through his or her sweat. Instead of just wicking … Read more

Penn Engineers Design Material That Could Help Diagnose Concussions

Color changing crystal

The precise link between concussions in sports, especially at the youth level, and traumatic brain injurie by soldiers is still being explored. Unfortunately, unlike a broken bone or a torn ligament, concussions are invisible and tricky to diagnose. Tthe Penn team in collaboration with Gang Feng’s group at Villanova University and Jie Yin’s group at … Read more

Penn Research Team Develops ‘Smart’ Window

Smart window

Commonplace as they are, windows are an important piece of technology. Beyond architectural aesthetics, a building’s ecological footprint depends heavily on how its internal light and heat are managed. With this in mind, researchers from around the world are trying to make windows “smarter” by tailoring their properties to be more responsive and finely tuned … Read more