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  • Aarya Mehta gets hoisted up as he throws his arms out to the eclipse as members of the Illini Astronomical Society celebrate witnessing the historic total solar eclipse

    The Great American Eclipse and all of its magic

    Crowds of people bustle about at the Martinsville Agricultural Fairgrounds on a Monday afternoon with their eyes on the sky. The air ripples with excitement as we eagerly await our chance to witness the moon consuming the sun — a total solar eclipse!

  • Graduate student Yingqi Jia, left, and professor Shelly Zhang in their lab

    Researchers introduce programmable materials to help heal broken bones

    Natural materials like bone, bird feathers and wood have an intelligent approach to physical stress distribution, despite their irregular architectures. However, the relationship between stress modulation and their structures has remained elusive. A new study that integrates machine learning, optimization, 3D printing and stress experiments allowed engineers to gain insight into these natural wonders by developing a material that replicates the functionalities of human bone for orthopedic femur restoration.

  • Portrait of researchers in a laboratory. They are sitting in front of two computer monitors displaying data and visualizations of their experiments.

    By listening, scientists learn how a protein folds

    By converting their data into sounds, scientists discovered how hydrogen bonds contribute to the lightning-fast gyrations that transform a string of amino acids into a functional, folded protein. Their report, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers an unprecedented view of the sequence of hydrogen-bonding events that occur when a protein morphs from an unfolded to a folded state.

  • A collage of the portraits of the five honorees.

    Five Illinois faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Five University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty members have been elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest honorary societies in the United States. Nancy M. AmatoRashid BashirAlison BellCharles Gammie and Paul Selvin are among the 250 inductees for 2024.

  • a gif showing molecules in motion

    Electron videography captures moving dance between proteins and lipids

    In a first demonstration of “electron videography,” researchers have captured a microscopic moving picture of the delicate dance between proteins and lipids found in cell membranes. The technique can be used to study dynamics of other biomolecules, breaking free of constraints that have limited microscopy to still images of fixed molecules, say University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers and collaborators at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

  • Portraits of all seven professors named new fellows of the AAAS

    Seven Illinois professors elected AAAS Fellows

    Seven University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors have been elected 2023 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are among the 502 scientists, engineers and innovators recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements by the world’s largest general scientific society. 

    The new U. of I. fellows are computer science professor Sarita Adveevolution, ecology and behavior professor Rebecca Fullercivil and environmental engineering professor Praveen Kumarchemistry professor Christy Landescommunication professor Marshall Scott Poolenatural resources and environmental sciences professor Cory Suski; and crop sciences and NRES professor Martin Williams, an ecologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.  

  • 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. 

  • Carl Bernacchi stands in front of a large image of a solar eclipse.

    What can researchers learn about ecosystems and the environment during the total solar eclipse?

    Scientists across the U.S. and Mexico are engaging in a one-day data-gathering operation to record how the 2024 total solar eclipse affects various aspects of life on Earth. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, crop sciences and plant biology professor Carl Bernacchi and his colleagues will focus on atmospheric and ecosystem-scale responses to the eclipse. Bernacchi describes what is planned and how it fits into the bigger research effort.

  • Professor Leslie Looney

    Expert advises eclipse watchers to get the best vantage point – are you ready?

    Leslie Looney is an astronomy professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and director of the Laboratory for Astronomical Imaging. He spoke with News Bureau physical sciences and media editor Lois Yoksoulian about the significance of solar eclipses and what to expect on April 8.

  • 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.  

  • 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. 

  • Atul Jain

    Why are global carbon emissions starting to increase again?

    On Dec. 5, the Global Carbon Project published the Global Carbon Budget 2023, giving world leaders access to data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, emissions and trends. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign atmospheric scientist Atul Jain is among the many scientists worldwide who contributed data to the report. Jain talked about the current state of the carbon budget and this year’s findings with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian.

  • Photo of Stephen Long holding a soybean leaf in the sun.

    In TED Talk, Long describes three photosynthetic changes that boost crop yields

    In a newly released TED Talk, Stephen Long, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor of plant biology and crop sciences, described his and his colleagues’ efforts to boost photosynthesis in crop plants. He described three interventions, each of which increased crop yields by 20% or more.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Headshot of Naomi Oreskes

    Science historian Naomi Oreskes to talk about how free market ideology blocks climate action

    Naomi Oreskes, a leader in examining efforts to undermine the scientific truth on the causes of global warming, will give a Center for Advanced Study MillerComm lecture on how free market ideology is preventing action on climate change.

  • A YouTube icon on a device screen

    Study: YouTube did not actively direct users toward anti-vaccine content during COVID-19

    New research led by data science experts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and United Nations Global Pulse found that there is no strong evidence that YouTube promoted anti-vaccine sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, performed an algorithmic audit to examine if YouTube’s recommendation system acted as a “rabbit hole,” leading users searching for vaccine-related videos to anti-vaccine content


  • Portrait of professor Deanna Hence, seated, with a computer image of a hurricane in the background

    What prompted tropical cyclone Hilary’s unusual path?

    Hilary was the first tropical storm to hit California in 84 years. Atmospheric sciences professor Deanna Hence spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about what made this storm unique and if the Southwest U.S. should expect more like it in the future. 

  • 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.

  • Image of the interior of the cave and the massive trench with people standing at different levels and looking into the trench. The cave is dark and you can see the grid of guidelines used to plot the location of items found in the dig. There are bright worklights overhead.

    Cave excavation pushes back the clock on early human migration to Laos

    Fifteen years of archaeological work in the Tam Pa Ling cave in northeastern Laos has yielded a reliable chronology of early human occupation of the site, scientists report in the journal Nature Communications. The team’s excavations through the layers of sediments and bones that gradually washed into the cave and were left untouched for tens of thousands of years reveals that humans lived in the area for at least 70,000 years – and likely even longer.

  • Portriat of researcher Lijun Liu

    Geologists challenge conventional view of Earth’s continental history, stability with new study

    The seemingly stable regions of the Earth’s continental plates – the so-called stable cratons – have suffered repetitive deformation below their crust since their formation in the remote past, according to new research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. This hypothesis defies decades of conventional plate tectonics theory and begs to answer why most cratons have remained structurally stable while their underbellies have experienced significant change.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • Photo of the team members at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

    First-year chemistry students learn data analytics in new lab curriculum

    A laboratory curriculum created by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Rice University exposes first-year chemistry students at a community college to advanced topics such as data analytics and physical chemistry.

  • 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.


  • A NASA illustration showing a supernova in the backround and a planet in the foreground

    New stellar danger to planets identified by NASA'S Chandra program

    An exploded star can pose more risks to nearby planets than previously thought, according to a new study from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other X-ray telescopes. This newly identified threat involves a phase of intense X-rays that can damage the atmospheres of planets up to 160 light-years away. 

  • This artist's concept shows the brilliant glare of two quasars residing in the cores of two galaxies that are in the chaotic process of merging. The gravitational tug-of-war between the two galaxies ignites a firestorm of star birth.

    Hubble unexpectedly finds double quasar in distant universe

    The early universe was a rambunctious place where galaxies often bumped into each other and even merged. Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and other space and ground-based observatories, astronomers made an unexpected and rare discovery: a pair of gravitationally bound quasars, both blazing away inside two merging galaxies. They existed when the universe was just 3 billion years old.

  • Photo of the research group

    AI predicts enzyme function better than leading tools

    A new artificial intelligence tool can predict the functions of enzymes based on their amino acid sequences, even when the enzymes are unstudied or poorly understood. The researchers said the AI tool, dubbed CLEAN, outperforms the leading state-of-the-art tools in accuracy, reliability and sensitivity. Better understanding of enzymes and their functions would be a boon for research in genomics, chemistry, industrial materials, medicine, pharmaceuticals and more.

  • 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.

  • A graphic showing the structure of the nickel-iron hydrogenase enzyme

    Mimicking biological enzymes may be key to hydrogen fuel production

    An ancient biological enzyme known as nickel-iron hydrogenase may play a key role in producing hydrogen for a renewables-based energy economy, researchers said. Careful study of the enzyme has led chemists from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to design a synthetic molecule that mimics the hydrogen gas-producing chemical reaction performed by the enzyme.

  • 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.

  • Professor Gregory Girolami with Margaret Bryan's book open in front of him and an image of Bryan and her daughters projected on a screen behind him

    Research uncovers details about the mysterious author of early astronomy textbooks

    New research by Gregory Girolami, the William and Janet Lycan Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois, uncovered previously unknown details about Margaret Bryan, the mysterious author of early astronomy and physics textbooks.

  • 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.

  • Mei Shen

    Chemistry professor named 2023 Sloan Research Fellow

    Chemistry professor Mei Shen is among 126 early-career researchers receiving the 2023 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. According to the foundation, the awards “honor extraordinary U.S. and Canadian researchers whose creativity, innovation and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of leaders.” Awardees receive a two-year $75,000 fellowship to advance their research.

  • Headshot of Abbas Aminmansour

    Why are so many tall and supertall buildings being built?

    Very tall buildings are attractive options in cities where land is at a premium, but they come with construction challenges, said University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign architecture professor Abbas Aminmansour.

  • 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.

  • Professor Ning Wang, front right, is joined by researchers, from left, Fazlur Rashid, Kshitij Amar and Parth Bhala.

    Probe can measure both cell stiffness and traction, researchers report

    Scientists have developed a tiny mechanical probe that can measure the inherent stiffness of cells and tissues as well as the internal forces the cells generate and exert on one another. Their new “magnetic microrobot” is the first such probe to be able to quantify both properties, the researchers report, and will aid in understanding cellular processes associated with development and disease.

  • 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.