News Bureau

Research News Campus News About

blog navigation

News Bureau - Research

 

  • 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.

  • Researchers at a table with various models of new multimaterial devices.

    New approach to flexible robotics and metamaterials design mimics nature, encourages sustainability

    A new study challenges the conventional approach to designing soft robotics and a class of materials called metamaterials by utilizing the power of computer algorithms. Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Technical University of Denmark can now build multimaterial structures without dependence on human intuition or trial-and-error to produce highly efficient actuators and energy absorbers that mimic designs found in nature.

  • Photo of researchers Colleen Lewis and Paul Bruno

    Studies examine effects of California's push for computer science education

    Despite California’s push for computer science education, race and gender disparities persist among the high schools offering these courses, the students enrolled in them and the teachers.

  • Portrait of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers involved in this study

    Water filtration membranes morph like cells

    Morphogenesis is nature’s way of building diverse structures and functions out of a fixed set of components. While nature is rich with examples of morphogenesis – cell differentiation, embryonic development and cytoskeleton formation, for example – research into the phenomenon in synthetic materials is scant. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers are taking a step forward using electron tomography, fluid dynamics theories and machine learning to watch soft polymers as the polymers learn from nature.

  • Deborah Leckband

    'Molecular Velcro' enables tissues to sense, react to mechanical force

    The Velcro-like cellular proteins that hold cells and tissues together also perform critical functions when they experience increased tension. A new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study observed that when tugged upon in a controlled manner, these proteins – called cadherins – communicate with growth factors to influence in vitro tumor growth in human carcinoma cells.

  • Illinois researchers, from left, Sudheer Salana, Joseph Puthussery, Haoran Yu and professor Vishal Verma recently conducted a comprehensive assessment of the oxidative potential of air pollution in the Midwestern U.S.

    Rural air pollution may be as hazardous as urban, study finds

    New research shows that chemical reactivity, seasonality and distribution of airborne particulate matter are critical metrics when considering air pollution’s impact on human health. Current environmental regulations focus on the mass of pollutant particles, and researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are pushing to refocus regulatory efforts on more regional and health-relevant factors.

  • Photo of researcher.

    14 Illinois faculty members elected AAAS Fellows

    Fourteen University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty members have been elected 2021 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  • A microscope image of cells

    CRISPR-Cas13 targets proteins causing ALS, Huntington's disease in the mouse nervous system

    A new study by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers used a targeted CRISPR technique in the central nervous systems of mice to turn off production of mutant proteins that can cause ALS and Huntington’s disease. Rather than the popular DNA-editing CRISPR-Cas9 technique, the new approach uses CRISPR-Cas13, which can target mRNA – the messenger molecule that carries protein blueprints transcribed from DNA. The Illinois team developed Cas13 systems that could target and cut RNAs that code for the proteins that trigger ALS and Huntington’s disease, effectively silencing the genes without disturbing the cell’s DNA.

  • Sheldon H. Jacobson

    Models predict optimal airplane seating for reduced viral transmission

    As airline ticket sales have soared during the holiday season and the omicron variant causes surges of COVID-19 cases, a new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study may help passengers and airlines reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission by optimally seating passengers to minimize potential virus spread. Researchers used the most current data on aerosol spread on airplanes to calculate optimal seating assignments for common Boeing aircraft at different capacities. 

  • Book cover and portrait of author and researcher Rakesh Kumar

    How does society impact the benefits and challenges of technology?

    Technology is a big part of life. In India, for example, street vendors and rickshawallahs use cellphones, the internet and Aadhar cards – 12-digit identification numbers given to every citizen of India based on their biometric and demographic data. However, charismatic gurus and superstition still thrive in India. In the new book "Reluctant Technophiles: India’s Complicated Relationship with Technology,” University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign electrical and computer engineering professor Rakesh Kumar provides an account of India’s often contradictory relationship with technology. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with Kumar about these contradictions, and how India’s situation is both unique and universal.

  • Portrait of the researchers observing a laboratory experiment

    Bubbling up: Previously hidden environmental impact of bursting bubbles exposed in new study

    Bubbles are common in nature and can form when ocean waves break and when raindrops impact surfaces. When bubbles burst, they send tiny jets of water and other materials into the air. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign examines how the interplay between bubble surfaces and water that contains organic materials contributes to the transport of aerosolized organic materials – some of which are linked to the spread of disease or contamination – into the atmosphere.

  • Photo of Atul Jain

    Six Illinois scientists rank among world's most influential

    Six faculty members at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been named to the 2021 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list.

  • A portrait of researcher Xiao Su

    Sustainable electrochemical process could revolutionize lithium-ion battery recycling

    Spent lithium-ion batteries contain valuable metals that are difficult to separate from each other for recycling purposes. Used batteries present a sustainable source of these metals, especially cobalt and nickel, but the current methods used for their separation have environmental and efficiency drawbacks. A new technology uses electrochemistry to efficiently separate and recover the metals, making spent batteries a highly sustainable secondary source of cobalt and nickel – the reserves of which are currently dwindling.