Reducing food industry carbon emissions with advanced hybrid desiccant-wheel heat pump system

Aiming to reduce industrial carbon pollution and moving the country toward a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, a team of researchers from Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory received Department of Energy (DOE) support to pursue the development and implementation of a high-performance hybrid desiccant-wheel heat pump system. … Read more

Reducing energy consumption in wood-drying through innovations in desiccant-coated kirigami heat exchangers and heat pump

Drying is an essential part of the product manufacturing industry, which accounts for up to 25% of the national energy consumption of developed countries. With the support of the U.S. Department of Energy, researchers from Texas A&M University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia and Michigan Technological University are teaming together to employ innovations in … Read more

Graphene oxide composite fibers muscle in

Soft materials promise more dexterous, sensitive robotics but soft actuators are limited in strength and power density. Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have fabricated meter-long composite fibers combining graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets with flexible, conductive polymers that can achieve mechanical strength, toughness, and actuation that surpasses biological muscles [Gao et al., Materials Today … Read more

Cut or No Cut: Algorithm for 2D-to-3D Engineering Integrates Art, Nature and Science

The team’s work takes inspiration from kirigami, an East Asian papercutting art, to create a mathematically sound method of cutting and stacking flat materials into durable curved objects. The advance addresses a longstanding blind spot at the intersection of mechanical engineering and materials science: Hardwearing materials with high mechanical integrity lose strength when manipulated into … Read more

Turning Buildings into Carbon Storage Structures

The University of Pennsylvania will receive $2.4M in funding from the US Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) HESTIA program, which prioritizes overcoming barriers associated with carbon-storing buildings, including scarce, expensive and geographically limited building materials. In collaboration with Texas A&M University, The City College of New York, KieranTimberlake, and Sika, we will … Read more

Twisted Soft Robots Navigate Mazes Autonomously

Twisted liquid crystal elastomer ribbon

Autonomy is crucial for soft robotics that are constructed of soft materials. It remains challenging to create autonomous soft robots that can intelligently interact with and adapt to changing environments without external controls. Prof. Jin Yin’s lab from North Carolina State University collaborated with Prof. Yang to develop such kind of autonomous soft robots by … Read more

Universal inverse design of surfaces with thin nematic elastomer sheets

Making Faces (red) graphic

The Yang lab and collaborators transform a two-dimension sheets made from liquid crystal elastomers into complex three-dimensional geometries, such as a human face, with heat. This work outlines an explicit protocol for preprogramming any desired 3D shape into a 2D liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) sheet. Namely, given an arbitrary 3D design, we show how to … Read more

Wearable UV Indicators from Photochromic Fibers and Yarns

Zheng-2020-AMTech-UV responsive fabric

Wearable sensors allow for continuous and real-time monitoring of the human health and potential environmental hazards such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the daily basis. Here, textile-based wearable UV indicators are fabricated, which can show easily recognizable color patterns depending on UV irradiation intensity over time. The sensors are prepared by templating electrospun polycaprolactone fibers … Read more

Responsive and Foldable Soft Materials

Liu-2020-Trends in Chemistry

Stimulus-responsive soft materials that can enable folding of a 2D sheet into a 3D object have potential significant applications, including wearable electronics, biomimetic machines, soft robotics, drug delivery, biomedical devices, and responsive buildings. The responses can be tuned by the materials chemistry, composition, and type of external stimulus; the direction and magnitude of the deformation … Read more