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  • Two researchers stand in suits while a shadowed research subject performs a motor task while wearing a sensor on their hand.

    Wearable sensors for Parkinson’s can improve with machine learning, data from healthy adults

    Low-cost, wearable sensors could increase access to care for patients with Parkinson’s disease. New machine-learning approaches and a baseline of data from healthy older adults improve the accuracy of the results from such sensors, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers and clinical collaborators found in a new study.

  • Researchers

    Nothing is everything: How hidden emptiness can define the usefulness of filtration materials

    Voids, or empty spaces, exist within matter at all scales, from the astronomical to the microscopic. In a new study, researchers used high-powered microscopy and mathematical theory to unveil nanoscale voids in three dimensions. This advancement is poised to improve the performance of many materials used in the home and in the chemical, energy and medical industries — particularly in the area of filtration. 

  • A researcher is holding a vial of gold that has been extracted from disgarded electronics in the background

    Electrochemistry helps clean up electronic waste recycling, precious metal mining

    A new method safely extracts valuable metals locked up in discarded electronics and low-grade ore using dramatically less energy and fewer chemical materials than current methods, report University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers in the journal Nature Chemical Engineering

  • Public domain of plants growing in laboratory designed to be used in space.

    Study brings scientists a step closer to successfully growing plants in space

    New, highly stretchable sensors can monitor and transmit plant growth information without human intervention, report University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers in the journal Device. The polymer sensors are resilient to humidity and temperature, can stretch over 400% while remaining attached to a plant as it grows and send a wireless signal to a remote monitoring location, said chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Ying Diao, who led the study with plant biology professor and department head Andrew Leakey.

  • Two researchers sit with an image of an atomic-level simulation of DNA, shown in red, packed into a viral capsid, shown in blue

    First atom-level structure of packaged viral genome reveals new properties, dynamics

    A computational model of the more than 26 million atoms in a DNA-packed viral capsid expands our understanding of virus structure and DNA dynamics, insights that could provide new research avenues and drug targets, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers report in the journal Nature.

  • Flooded farm field draining into stream

    Study: 'Legacy' phosphorus delays water quality improvements in Gulf of Mexico

    The same phosphorous that fertilizes the thriving agriculture of the Midwest is also responsible for a vast “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi Delta. Efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus that enters the Mississippi River system are underway, but research led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign suggests that remnants of the contaminant are left behind in riverbeds for years after introduction and pose an overlooked – and lingering – problem.  

  • Photo of Yong-Su Jin in the laboratory

    Microbial division of labor produces higher biofuel yields

    Scientists have found a way to boost ethanol production via yeast fermentation, a standard method for converting plant sugars into biofuels. Their approach, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, relies on careful timing and a tight division of labor among synthetic yeast strains to yield more ethanol per unit of plant sugars than previous approaches have achieved.

  • A NASA image containing visible and infrared data revealing the presence of dissolved organic matter – including potential antibiotic-resistant pathogens – in the waterways along coastal North Carolina after Hurricane Florence.

    Genetic sequencing uncovers unexpected source of pathogens in floodwaters

    Researchers report in the journal Geohealth that local rivers and streams were the source of the Salmonella enterica contamination along coastal North Carolina after Hurricane Florence in 2018 – not the previously suspected high number of pig farms in the region. 

  • Research led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign produced a new temperature dependent 3D-printed polymer composite that can react to its environment.

    Researchers engineer a material that can perform different tasks depending on temperature

    Researchers report that they have developed a new composite material designed to change behaviors depending on temperature in order to perform specific tasks. These materials are poised to be part of the next generation of autonomous robotics that will interact with the environment.

  • An optical micrograph showing the chiral liquid crystal phase of a polymer that researchers are exploring to produce highly efficient semiconductor materials.

    Researchers identify unexpected twist while developing new polymer-based semiconductors

    A new study led by chemists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign brings fresh insight into the development of semiconductor materials that can do things their traditional silicon counterparts cannot – harness the power of chirality, a non-superimposable mirror image.

  • Three engineering students seated around a table work on a team project in the classroom.

    Collaborative learning experiences crucial in preparing engineering students for the workforce

    An innovative pair of faculty members in education and engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are partnering to provide experiential learning projects that cultivate the collaborative skills engineering students need for educational and career success.

  • Rashid Bashir stands in an atrium wearing a suit and tie.

    Rashid Bashir elected to National Academy of Medicine

    Rashid Bashir, the dean of The Grainger College of Engineering and a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. A pioneer at the intersection of engineering and medicine, Bashir was elected “for seminal contributions and visionary leadership in micro and nanoscale biosensors and diagnostics, bioengineering early detection of infection and sepsis, and education in engineering-based medicine with helping to establish the world's first engineering-based medical school.”

  • Kaiyu Guan standing in an agriculutural field in Illinois

    Researchers propose a unified, scalable framework to measure agricultural greenhouse gas emissions

    Increased government investment in climate change mitigation is prompting agricultural sectors to find reliable methods for measuring their contribution to climate change. With that in mind, a team led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign proposed a supercomputing solution to help measure individual farm field-level greenhouse gas emissions. Although locally tested in the Midwest, the new approach can be scaled up to national and global levels and help the industry grasp the best practices for reducing emissions.

  • Professor Nishant Garg, standing, and graduate student Hossein Kabir, seated, in their laboratory

    Fast, automated, affordable test for cement durability

    Engineers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a new test that can predict the durability of cement in seconds to minutes – rather than the hours it takes using current methods. The test measures the behavior of water droplets on cement surfaces using computer vision on a device that costs less than $200. The researchers said the new study could help the cement industry move toward rapid and automated quality control of their materials.

  • A display screens that use flexible fins and liquid droplets that can be arranged in various orientations to create images like this simulation of the opening of a flower bloom.

    Displays controlled by flexible fins and liquid droplets more versatile, efficient than LED screens

    Flexible displays that can change color, convey information and even send veiled messages via infrared radiation are now possible, thanks to new research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Engineers inspired by the morphing skins of animals like chameleons and octopuses have developed capillary-controlled robotic flapping fins to create switchable optical and infrared light multipixel displays that are 1,000 times more energy efficient than light-emitting devices.

  • Researcher Viktor Gruev standing in front of the ocean wearing an orange and blue U. of I. wetsuit and holding a specialized camera.

    What is the state of underwater geolocation technology?

    The loss of OceanGate's Titan submersible this week has triggered questions about how underwater craft navigate and how these vehicles can improve their geolocation abilities. Electrical and computer engineering professor Viktor Gruev spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about the current state of the science behind underwater geolocation, and some advances his team is working on now.

  • Hokusai’s woodblock print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” showing an artistic rendering of a deep blue tsunami wave

    Mechanical engineers lend fresh insight into battery-based desalination technology

    To achieve more effective saltwater desalination, mechanical engineers focused on fluid movement rather than new materials in a new study. By adding microchannels to the inside of battery-like electrodes made of Prussian blue – an intense blue pigment often used in art that also has special chemical properties – researchers increased the extent of seawater desalination five times over their non-channeled counterparts to reach salinity levels below the freshwater threshold.

  • A hand holds two vials of solution, one pink and one blue.

    Imaging agents light up two cancer biomarkers at once to give more complete picture of tumor

    Cancer surgeons may soon have a more complete view of tumors during surgery thanks to new imaging agents that can illuminate multiple biomarkers at once, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers report. The fluorescent nanoparticles, wrapped in the membranes of red blood cells, target tumors better than current clinically approved dyes and can emit two distinct signals in response to just one beam of surgical light, a feature that could help doctors distinguish tumor borders and identify metastatic cancers.

  • Undergraduate student Lily Kettler, left, professor Joaquin Viera and graduate student Kedar Phadke photographed inside an astronomical observatory

    Webb Space Telescope detects universe’s most distant complex organic molecules

    Researchers have detected complex organic molecules in a galaxy more than 12 billion light-years away from Earth – the most distant galaxy in which these molecules are now known to exist. Thanks to the capabilities of the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope and careful analyses from the research team, a new study lends critical insight into the complex chemical interactions that occur in the first galaxies in the early universe. 

  • An artist's rendering of an implant with the smart coating

    Smart surgical implant coatings provide early failure warning while preventing infection

    Newly developed “smart” coatings for surgical orthopedic implants can monitor strain on the devices to provide early warning of implant failures while killing infection-causing bacteria, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers report. The coatings integrate flexible sensors with a nanostructured antibacterial surface inspired by the wings of dragonflies and cicadas.

  • Photo of the INVITE leadership team members

    U of I to lead National Artificial Intelligence Research Institute focused on STEM learning

    Scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will lead a National Artificial Intelligence Research Institute focused on developing learning technologies that will accelerate youths' STEM learning and broaden diversity in related occupations.

  • Image shows a large industral 3D printer depositing ink composite on to a surface

    New metric allows researchers to better understand soft material behavior

    The mechanics behind the collapse of soft materials structure have befuddled researchers for decades. In a new study, researchers uncover a metric that finally correlates microscopic-level processes with what is seen at the macroscopic level. 

  • photos of Tamer Basar, David Cahill and Vidya Madhavan

    Three Illinois scientists elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Three University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign scientists have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


  • Portrait of the Illinois team

    Researchers reveal real-time glimpse into growth habits of nanoparticles

    For the first time, researchers have observed the process of nanoparticles self-assembling and crystalizing into solid materials. In new videos produced by the team, particles can be seen raining down, tumbling along stairsteps and sliding around before finally snapping into place to form a crystal’s signature stacked layers.

  • Illinois researchers professor Diwakar Shukla, left, professor Xiao Su, Anaira Román Santiago and Song Yin standing in Su's laboratory at the RAL building at U. of I.

    Advanced electrode to help remediation of stubborn new 'forever chemicals'

    As new environmental regulations are rolling out to mitigate the industry-retired long-chain chemicals known as PFAS in drinking water, there are concerns regarding a new breed of “forever chemicals” called short-chain PFAS. Research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is helping shift the focus to include mitigation of the chemicals – which researchers say are just as persistent as, more mobile and harder to remove from the environment than their long-chain counterparts.

  • The graphic shows an orange and blue fractal image illustrating mathmatical order and chaos

    Theory sorts order from chaos in complex quantum systems

    It’s not easy to make sense of quantum-scale motion, but a new mathematical theory could help, providing insight into the various computing, electrochemical and biological systems. Chenghao Zhang, a physics graduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and chemistry professor Martin Gruebele performed a computational analysis of the new mathematical theory developed by Rice University theorist Peter Wolynes and theoretical chemist David Logan at Oxford University. The theory gives a simple prediction for the threshold at which large quantum systems switch from orderly motion like a clock to random, erratic motion like asteroids moving around in the early solar system.

  • Chemical and biomolecular biology professor Xiao Su in his lab

    Study demonstrates energy-efficient conversion of nitrate pollutants into ammonia

    The nitrate runoff problem, a source of carcinogens and a cause of suffocating algal blooms in U.S. waterways, may not be all gloom and doom. A new study led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign demonstrates an approach for the integrated capture and conversion of nitrate-contaminated waters into valuable ammonia within a single electrochemical cell.

  • CUMTD bus on U. of I. campus

    Researchers illuminate gaps in public transportation access, equity

    Public transit systems offering broad coverage of stops and routes may still underserve the communities that rely on them the most, according to a new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study. The study, by former civil and environmental engineering student Dale Robbennolt and Applied Research Institute senior research scientist Ann-Perry Witmer, applies contextual engineering to help determine lapses in equity in public bus transportation access using data from the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District as a case study.

  • A composite image of seven faculty portraits

    Seven Illinois faculty members elected to AAAS

    Seven professors at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been elected 2022 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows are chosen by their peers for outstanding contribution to the field.

  • Professor Tugce Baser

    Geothermal 'battery' repurposes abandoned oil and gas well in Illinois, researchers report

    Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have successfully demonstrated efficient geothermal heat storage while simultaneously repurposing an abandoned oil and gas well. A new study, led by civil and environmental engineering professor Tugce Baser, is the first field investigation of a geothermal energy storage system within the Illinois Basin – a geologic structure located deep within the subsurface.

  • Graphic of click beetle and coiled actuators

    Click beetle-inspired robots jump using elastic energy

    Researchers have made a significant leap forward in developing insect-sized jumping robots capable of performing tasks in the small spaces often found in mechanical, agricultural and search-and-rescue settings. A new study led by mechanical science and engineering professor Sameh Tawfick demonstrates a series of click beetle-sized robots small enough to fit into tight spaces, powerful enough to maneuver over obstacles and fast enough to match an insect’s rapid escape time.

  • A photograph of an eBiobot prototype, lit with blue microLEDs.

    Microelectronics give researchers a remote control for biological robots

    First, they walked. Then, they saw the light. Now, miniature biological robots have gained a new trick: remote control. The hybrid “eBiobots” are the first to combine soft materials, living muscle and microelectronics, said researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and collaborating institutions.

  • Schematic illustration of vapor harvesting structure

    Researchers propose new structures to harvest untapped source of fresh water

    An almost limitless supply of fresh water exists in the form of water vapor above Earth’s oceans, yet remains untapped, researchers said. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the first to suggest an investment in new infrastructure capable of harvesting oceanic water vapor as a solution to limited supplies of fresh water in various locations around the world.

  • Researchers

    Organizing nanoparticles into pinwheel shapes offers new twist on engineered materials

    Researchers have developed a new strategy to help build materials with unique optical, magnetic, electronic and catalytic properties. These pinwheel-shaped structures self-assemble from nanoparticles and exhibit a characteristic called chirality – one of nature’s strategies to build complexity into structures at all scales, from molecules to galaxies.  

  • Photo of the researchers on this year's list.

    Nine Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential

    Nine U. of I. researchers have been named to the 2022 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes research scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated exceptional influence – reflected through their publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the last decade. This year’s list includes 6,938 individuals from around the world whose papers rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in the Web of Science.

  • Postdoctoral research associate Wenxiang Chen using a transmission electron microscope .

    Previously unseen processes reveal path to better rechargeable battery performance

    To design better rechargeable ion batteries, engineers and chemists from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign collaborated to combine a powerful new electron microscopy technique and data mining to visually pinpoint areas of chemical and physical alteration within ion batteries.

  • Photo of Ann-Perry Witmer

    What is place-based adaptation to climate change?

    A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll states that roughly half of registered voters say climate change is either “very important” or “one of the most important issues” in their vote for Congress this year. However, many citizens struggle to understand their place in this global issue. Applied Research Institute senior research scientist Ann-Perry Witmer, also a lecturer in agricultural and biological engineering, spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about a more digestible approach to the climate crisis and encouraged readers to participate in a public panel discussion this week.

  • Artists rendering of cornaviruses. A virus in the foreground is wrapped in a DNA net that is giving off a glowing signal.

    DNA nets capture COVID-19 virus in low-cost rapid-testing platform

    Tiny nets woven from DNA strands can ensnare the spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19, lighting up the virus for a fast-yet-sensitive diagnostic test – and also impeding the virus from infecting cells, opening a new possible route to antiviral treatment, according to a new study led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

  • Researchers seated at table with instrument used to perform their new metal fatigue testing methodoloy

    Deformation fingerprints will help researchers identify, design better metallic materials

    Engineers can now capture and predict the strength of metallic materials subjected to cycling loading, or fatigue strength, in a matter of hours – not the months or years it takes using current methods.

  • Nick Holonyak Jr.

    Nick Holonyak Jr., pioneer of LED lighting, dies

    Nick Holonyak Jr., a renowned innovator of illumination, has died. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor was 93 years old.

    Holonyak (pronounced huh-LON-yak) is credited with the development of the first practical visible-spectrum LED, now commonly used in light bulbs, device displays and lasers worldwide. 

  • Eleftheria Kontou

    Can we evacuate from hurricanes in electric vehicles?

    As emergency coordinators across the U.S. prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, they are busy planning evacuation routes. Currently, these plans don’t anticipate the needs of people driving electric vehicles, which have shorter driving ranges than gas vehicles and require recharging at stations with charging ports. Civil and environmental engineering professor Eleftheria Kontou spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about this issue and her newly published study.

  • U. of I. researchers Marcelo Garcia, left, Mayandi Sivaguru, seated, and Bruce Fouke.

    Layered limestone deposits give unique insight to Roman aqueducts

    Mineral-rich waters originating from the Apennine Mountains of Italy flowed through ancient Rome’s Anio Novus aqueduct and left behind a detailed rock record of past hydraulic conditions, researchers said. Two studies characterizing layered limestone – called travertine – deposits within the Anio Novus are the first to document the occurrence of anti-gravity growth ripples and establish that these features lend clues to the history of ancient water conveyance and storage systems.

  • Graduate student Binxin Fu, left, and civil and environmental engineering professor Rosa Espinosa-Marzal

    Nanoscale observations simplify how scientists describe earthquake movement

    Using single calcite crystals with varying surface roughness allows engineers to simplify the complex physics that describes fault movement. In a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, researchers show how this simplification may lead to better earthquake prediction.

  • A masked student holds a saliva collection test tube

    SHIELD program a model for effective pandemic management, data show

    In the fall of 2020, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign welcomed students back for in-person instruction amid the powerful first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university successfully maintained operations throughout the semester – with zero COVID-19-related deaths or hospitalizations in the campus community – thanks to its “SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell” program. In a sweeping report, the team behind the campuswide collaboration details the innovations in modeling, saliva testing and results reporting that helped mitigate the spread of the virus, and shares the data collected and lessons learned through the process.

  • A photo of the Chicago skyline, looking north with Lake Michigan in the foreground

    Lake Michigan water-level rise affects inland waterways, study finds

    2020 marked Lake Michigan’s highest water level in 120 years, experts said, and climate variance makes future water levels challenging to predict. Coastal impacts are well-documented, but the effect of lake level rise on the area’s inland waterways is poorly understood. A University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study examined how Lake Michigan’s rising levels affect water quality, flood control and invasive species management within the Chicago-area waterway system that connects the lake to Illinois, Indiana and the Mississippi River basin.  

  • An image of the first direct visual evidence of Sagittarius A star, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy

    Illinois astronomers help capture first image of Milky Way's black hole

    A team of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers led by physics and astronomy professor Charles Gammie is part of a large international collaboration that unveiled the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. This result provides evidence that the object is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such giants, which researchers think reside at the center of most galaxies.

  • Portrait of Nancy Sotttos

    Engineering professor Nancy Sottos elected to National Academy of Sciences

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive. She is among 120 members and 30 international members elected this year to recognize their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

  • Portraits of professors Nancy Sottos, left, and Maria Todorova.

    Two Illinois faculty members elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos and history professor Maria Todorova have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest honor societies in the nation.  They are among 261 new members elected to the academy this year in recognition of their accomplishments and leadership in academia, the arts, industry, public policy and research.

  • Portrait of coauthor Rashid Bashir

    Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test discerns alpha variant from earlier strains

    A point-of-care COVID-19 test developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can now detect and differentiate the alpha variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from earlier strains in saliva samples.

  • Portrait of researcher Kelly Stephani

    Why is the use of hypersonic missiles in the Russia-Ukraine conflict significant?

    The U.S. recently confirmed that the Russian Ministry of Defence fired a hypersonic ballistic missile to destroy an underground arms depot in western Ukraine. This event marks Russia’s first use of the Kinzhal ballistic missile in this war and the first known use of a hypersonic missile in combat. Mechanical science and engineering professor Kelly Stephani spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about the significance of this technology.