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  • Three people in lab coats, goggles, gloves, and face masks hold squares of fabric in a clear plastic trough and spray them.

    Making a Homemade COVID Mask? Study Explains Best Fabric Choices

    Health authorities believe COVID-19 spreads by the transmission of respiratory droplets, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends homemade cloth face coverings for use in public spaces. Starting today, Illinois joins many other states in requiring people to wear masks while out. However, initial uncertainty regarding the masks’ effectiveness in reducing exhaled droplets leaves some people unsure or skeptical of their usefulness during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Mechanical science and engineering professor Taher Saif spoke with News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian about a study that he and his graduate students, Onur Aydin and Bashar Emon, performed on the effectiveness of common household fabrics for use in homemade masks.

  • A map of the United States with different gradients of red in each state, displaying predicted cases.

    Abdelzaher Repurposing Social Networking Models to Predict COVID Spread Under Different Social Distancing Policies

    Since the COVID-19 epidemic began, there has been plenty of opportunity to observe how a vast array of truths, half-truths, and falsehoods can flare up and spread like wildfire across social media, swirl around, and just as quickly get buried and forgotten. It could serve as a fascinating case study for CSL and computer science professor Tarek Abdelzaher, who for years has studied how information propagates through social media.

  • [Image ID: A close up of the PathTracker, a blue plastic box with a black clip attached to the top. End ID]

    Bashir and Cunningham Develop Inexpensive, Portable Detector that Identifies Pathogens in Minutes

    Most viral test kits rely on labor- and time-intensive laboratory preparation and analysis techniques; for example, tests for the novel coronavirus can take days to detect the virus from nasal swabs. Led by Illinois ECE Professors Rashid Bashir, Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering, and Brian T Cunningham, Donald Biggar Willett Professor in Engineering, researchers have now demonstrated an inexpensive yet sensitive smartphone-based testing device for viral and bacterial pathogens that takes about 30 minutes to complete. The roughly $50 smartphone accessory could reduce the pressure on testing laboratories during a pandemic such as COVID-19.

  • [Image ID: a close up of a cicada's wing. End ID]

    Study Reveals Unique Physical, Chemical Properties of Cicada Wings

    Biological structures sometimes have unique features that engineers would like to copy. For example, many types of insect wings shed water, kill microbes, reflect light in unusual ways and are self-cleaning. While researchers have dissected the physical characteristics that likely contribute to such traits, a new study reveals that the chemical compounds that coat cicada wings also contribute to their ability to repel water and kill microbes.

  • [Image ID: Several banks of supercomputers in a white room, captured at a dramatic angle. End ID]

    Srikant Uses World's Most Advanced Supercomputers to Combat COVID-19

    Illinois ECE Professor Rayadurgam Srikant, Fredric G. and Elizabeth H. Nearing Endowed Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is working with the Digital Transformation Institute to find ways to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

  • The Grainger College of Engineering and Carle Health demonstrate working prototype of emergency ventilator for COVID-19 patients

    The Illinois RapidVent emergency ventilator was developed in less than a week, and preliminary tests show performance equivalent to commercial devices; additional tests ongoing.

  • [Image ID: a group of 15 people clusters and poses around a silver and white robot, that has a cyllindrical body and two arms. End ID]

    CSL Professor Creates Robotic Avatar for Hands-Free Medical Care

    In James Cameron’s blockbuster movie “Avatar,” humans explored a new planet without ever leaving their lounge chairs on Earth. CSL’s Kris Hauser and his team are creating a new type of avatar that could provide a similar ability to health care workers, who could treat patients remotely during a pandemic like the current COVID-19 crisis.

  • [Image ID: Shen Dillion smiles at the camera. He is wearing a white shirt and black jacket, and is seated next to a white microscope-like apparatus. End ID]

    Breaking the Temperature Barrier in Small-Scale Materials Testing

    Researchers have demonstrated a new method for testing microscopic aeronautical materials at ultra-high temperatures. By combining electron microscopy and laser heating, scientists can evaluate these materials much more quickly and inexpensively than with traditional testing.

  • [Image ID: Jamila Hedhli, wearing a white lab coat, looks through a microscope. The image on the microscope is displayed on a screen that is mostly out of frame. Behind Jamila, Wawrzyniec Dobrucki looks on. End ID]

    Study Maps Landmarks of Peripheral Artery Disease to Guide Treatment Development

    Novel biomedical advances that show promise in the lab often fall short in clinical trials. For researchers studying peripheral artery disease, this is made more difficult by a lack of standardized metrics for what recovery looks like. A new study from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers identifies major landmarks of PAD recovery, creating signposts for researchers seeking to understand the disease and develop treatments.

  • Joe Bradley, Clinical Assistant Professor

    Joe Bradley and Team Awarded Nearly $3.5 Million to Develop Pathway for Underrepresented Students in NSF STEM Innovation Program

    Joe Bradley, clinical assistant professor in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a member of a team who received almost $3.5 million to research and evaluate ways to develop infrastructure that improves diversity and inclusion in STEM entrepreneurship.

  • [Image ID: Verdant stands next to a brightly colored sattelite model with transparent solar panels extending off either side. End ID]

    New Patented Invention Stabilizes, Rotates Satellites

    Many satellites are in space to take photos. But a vibrating satellite, like a camera in shaky hands, can’t get a sharp image. Pointing it at a precise location to take a photo or perform another task, is another important function that requires accuracy. Vedant, an aerospace engineering doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was working on a way to eliminate vibrations on a satellite when he discovered his invention could also rotate the satellite.

  • Postdoctoral researcher Gang Wang loads a sample into the system used to perform the nanotube crosslinking operation while Joseph Lyding looks on.

    Improving The Electrical and Mechanical Properties of Carbon-Nanotube-Based Fibers

    The Lyding Group recently developed a technique that can be used to build carbon-nanotube-based fibers by creating chemical crosslinks. The technique improves the electrical and mechanical properties of these materials.

  • $20 Million Award will Fund Resilience Research Center for Five More Years

    The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has renewed a cooperative agreement that funds the Center for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning. Originally established with a $20 million award in 2015, the center will receive an additional $20 million in support over the next five years. Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) professor Paolo Gardoni (above) will continue to serve as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) campus principal investigator.

  • [Image ID: a rendered image of a silver cylinder labeled "Ground Electrode". Inside there are two orange and one white ring, labeled "High-Voltage Electrode." The electrodes are attached to a black box and some tubes. End ID]

    Improving Aerodynamics During Entire Flight, not just Takeoff and Landing

    Currently in use on the wings of airplanes are little fins near the leading edge or just upstream of control surfaces to help control the aircraft during takeoff or landing. But these vortex generator vanes and other similar solutions are fixed in place across the entire flight, creating a cruise penalty from the drag. A promising new idea for a device was tested at the University of Illinois that uses an electric spark that can be turned on and off when needed to generate rotating air across the wing for better lift.

  • Tong Wins NSF-Amazon award to Improve AI Fairness

    Computer science professor Hanghang Tong and a team of researchers recently received an three year award for over $1 million from the National Science Foundation and Amazon. The award is a part of their joint Fairness in Artificial Intelligence program. The initiative supports computational research focused on fairness in AI to ultimately create trustworthy systems that can help tackle society’s biggest challenges.

  • [Image ID: three side-by-side images of the same pink-tinged cell tissue, which are amorphous blobs with other blobs of different shades inside. The image on the left has the least distinct detail, and what look like white scratches distorting some of the color of the image. The one in the center is a lighter pink with more distinct purple details. The one on the left is deeply saturated purple, with pink, blue, black, and green details that show up very distinctly. End ID]

    Hybrid Microscope Could Bring Digital Biopsy to the Clinic

    By adding infrared capability to the ubiquitous, standard optical microscope, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hope to bring cancer diagnosis into the digital era.

  • Varshney Featured in "The Age of A.I.," a Youtube Originals Series

    Illinois ECE Assistant Professor Lav R Varshney is featured in a new YouTube Originals series “The Age of A.I.”  Varshney shares his expertise as the episode explores using artificial intelligence to build a better human.  Hosted by Robert Downey Jr., the episode investigates augmenting human abilities with A.I. and our reliance on A.I. to make decisions for us.

  • [Image ID: four people stand casually in a workshop, behind a large cyllindrical device which they are showing off. Out of this cyllinder emerge tubes and wires, and the outside is covered in a white substance. End ID]

    New Understanding of Condensation Could Lead to Better Power Plant Condenser, De-icing Materials

    For decades, it’s been understood that water repellency is needed for surfaces to shed condensation buildup – like the droplets of water that form in power plant condensers to reduce pressure. New research shows that the necessity of water repellency is unclear and that the slipperiness between the droplets and solid surface appears to be more critical to the clearing of condensation. This development has implications for the costs associated with power generation and technologies like de-icing surfaces for power lines and aircraft.

  • Noyan Sevuktekin

    Illinois ECE Student Leads Research Team to Explore Parallells Between Human Brain and Machine

    The University of Illinois has been a champion of supercomputing since 1985, when the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) became part of the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) – at a time when the internet, and modern-era computers, had just entered the early stages of development. Illinois continued to advance the computational game when the first widely used web browser, Mosaic, was built. However, there is one computer even these researchers can’t seem to beat: the human brain. For this reason, Illinois ECE student Noyan Cem Sevuktekin is looking to learn from it, instead.

  • Computational Redistricting: Drawing the Maps

    The 2020 decennial census count will begin on April 1, with results announced by the end of the year.  A critical outcome of the count is the number of congressional seats allocated to each state.  Once announced, state legislatures set in motion a process to create district maps for their states, with all the associated challenges.  This process will impact every voter in the United States, since who represents them in Congress will be determined by this mapping process.

  • [Image ID: a man in a button-up shirt stands in a blue-lit classroom, facing the camera. There is a rounded visor over his eyes, and he holds the handles of two controllers with rounded heads. He's in a position as though he is hammering something. In front of him is a yellow computer screen with a lantern, presumably the VR program, on it.]

    Team Creates Game-Based Virtual Archaeology Field School

    Before they can get started at their field site – a giant cave studded with stalactites, stalagmites and human artifacts – 15 undergraduate students must figure out how to use their virtual hands and tools. They also must learn to teleport.

  • Illinois ECE Professor Raluca Ilie

    Ilie Wins NSF Career Award for Geospace Research

    Illinois ECE Professor Raluca Ilie was recently awarded the NSF CAREER award to develop an improved understanding of the Earth-space environment or geospace. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the NSF's most prestigious awards to support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models and lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

  • Iyer Helps Develop Tools to Aid in Alzheimer's Diagnosis and Prognosis

    A team of researchers, led by Illinois ECE Professor Ravishankar K Iyer, George and Ann Fisher Distinguished Professor of Engineering, is working to create tools that could help improve the diagnosis of the illness and produce more accurate prognoses.

  • Banerjee Receives NSF CAREER Award for Work Emulating a Biological Spine in Robots

    Illinois ECE Assistant Professor Arijit Banerjee recently won the NSF CAREER award for his work with bio-inspired design methods for distributed electromechanical actuators to emulate a biological spine. This prestigious award supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

  • Assistant Professor Kyle Smith. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

    Smith's Theory of Pore-Scale Transport to Enable Improved Flow Batteries

    Redox flow batteries are an emerging technology for electrochemical energy storage that could help enhance the use of power produced by renewable energy resources. These power resources are inherently irregular in their supply, which doesn’t typically align with demand on the power grid. In principle, redox flow batteries can be designed to have an energy-storage capacity that is independent of its power rating. However, in practice, the ease with which redox-active molecules are transported to electrode surfaces plays an important role in determining their efficiency, the power that is produced or charged and, in some instances, their length of life.

  • [Image ID: a boxy white robot sits between two rows of green cornstalks. The robot has thick black tires and a round sensor on the front. End ID]

    Chowdhary Tackles Agricultural Challenges with Autonomous Robot

    Illinois ECE affiliate faculty member and director of the Field Robotics Engineering and Sciences Hub Girish Chowdhary was recently featured on a OneZero article, highlighting his work with his startup EarthSense. EarthSense sells an autonomous agriculture robot that Chowdhary developed to phenotype plants for breeders.

  • Scientists Develop Gentle, Microscopic Hands to Study Tiny, Soft Materials

    Handling very soft, delicate items without damaging them is hard enough with human hands, let alone doing it at the microscopic scale with laboratory instruments. Three new studies show how scientists have honed a technique for handling tiny, soft particles using precisely controlled fluid flows that act as gentle microscopic hands. The technique allows researchers to test the physical limits of these soft particles and the things made from them – ranging from biological tissues to fabric softeners.

  • Browser Boss

    As a senior engineering director overseeing Google Chrome, Parisa Tabriz—aka the “Security Princess”—helps keep your computer safe against assaults by bedroom hackers, hostile nation states and everything in between.

  • iBioFAB: Reimagining our Approach to Synthetic Biology

    Across the University of Illinois campus — and at countless other research universities and institutes — biologists toil away at their lab benches, working on tedious tasks such as DNA assembly and microbe engineering.

  • Karin Jensen, a white woman with brown hair and a white labcoat, stands in front of a bank of computers. She is smiling at the camera.

    Jensen Receives CAREER Award to Address Undergrad Mental Health

    Bioengineering professor Karin Jensen received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her proposal “Supporting Undergraduate Mental Health by Building a Culture of Wellness in Engineering.” 

  • Harry H. Hilton, an elderly white man with a bald head and glasses, smiles at the camera. He is in front of a whiteboard with writing on it.

    Visualizing Multiple Dimensions for Big-Picture Analysis of Wing Stresses and Performance

    Bending, buckling, twisting, and plunging are just a few of the ways vehicles perform when in flight. Rather than analyzing these and more variables individually, aerospace engineers used a system-of-systems approach to mathematically model the stresses for a big-picture understanding of what’s happening to a portion of a vehicle (a spar) in flight—then used a unique protocol to visualize all of the variables together.

  • Study on Surface Damage to Vehicles Traveling at Hypersonic Speeds

    Vehicles moving at hypersonic speeds are bombarded with ice crystals and dust particles in the surrounding atmosphere, making the surface material vulnerable to damage such as erosion and sputtering with each tiny collision. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied this interaction one molecule at a time to understand the processes, then scaled up the data to make it compatible with simulations that require a larger scale. 

  • Three airplanes sit in the desert, with many more grounded planes in the distance behind them.

    ARI awarded REMADE grant to recycle aerospace scrap

    Ever wonder what happens to aircrafts at the end of their useful life? They are sent to aircraft graveyards. The Arizona desert is home to several aircraft graveyards. Planes that are no longer in operation are parked there.  The Applied Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is hoping to give these planes a new lease on life by recycling the aluminum alloys (principally the high-end AA7075) that are used to build these planes. 

  • Through NSF Grant, Researchers Creating Advanced Autopilot to Mimic the "Sully Factor"

    Through a National Science Foundation grant, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology are working on an advanced autopilot, which will autonomously evaluate unforeseen circumstances, take the best course of action, and land the plane safely.

  • Image is a graphic of a chromatophore, which appears as a brown textured orb with circular patterns of blue, green, and teal on it. It is floating in a blue background that looks like water, and two similar orbs are out of focus behind it.

    Simulation Reveals how Bacterial Organelle Converts Sunlight to Chemical Energy

    Scientists have simulated every atom of a light-harvesting structure in a photosynthetic bacterium that generates energy for the organism. The simulated organelle behaves just like its counterpart in nature, the researchers report. The work is a major step toward understanding how some biological structures convert sunlight into chemical energy, a biological innovation that is essential to life.

  • Professor Wen-mei Hwu Extends GPU Principles in General Parallel Computing Applications

    The computations of modern hardware are so complex that it requires multiple processors to parallelize the task that is being performed. According to an article from Built In, Nvidia approached ECE ILLINOIS Professor Wen-mei Hwu, AMD Jerry Sanders Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to help extend their designs with GPUs into general parallel computing applications.

  • Illinois CS VR Course Helps ECE Illinois Offer a New Interactive Learning Experience

    ECE ILLINOIS Professor Raluca Ilie is transforming the way her students learn by using virtual reality to help them better understand complex electrical engineering concepts. With the help of students in Illinois Computer Science, she’s running a new virtual reality laboratory that is offering new, interactive, and immersive learning experiences at ECE ILLINOIS, and could open the door to new learning opportunities for students across many disciplines.

  • Graphene: The more you bend it, the softer it gets

    New research by engineers at the University of Illinois combines atomic-scale experimentation with computer modeling to determine how much energy it takes to bend multilayer graphene – a question that has eluded scientists since graphene was first isolated. The findings are reported in the journal Nature Materials.

  • Illinois Researchers to Develop Smartphone Diagnostics Kit for Infectious Diseases

    Infectious diseases such as Zika and Dengue remain a top contributor to death and disability across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are developing a lab-on-a-smartphone system that will enable healthcare professionals to detect disease at the point of care. 

  • ECE Illinois Researcers Receive $2.4 M to Develop New Ways to Diagnose Liver Cancer

    A new grant from the National Cancer Institute is bringing ECE ILLINOIS researchers closer to discovering new methods to diagnose liver cancer.  The team’s innovative techniques will help diagnose without the need for contrast agents.

  • Human Reflexes Keet Two-Legged Robot Upright

    Imagine being trapped inside a collapsed building after a disaster, wondering if anybody will be brave enough to rescue you. Suddenly, a door bursts open, and standing in the shadows is a robot. But this is not just any robot; this one has quick, humanlike reflexes and is guided by a person from a remote location who feels the same physical forces the robot is experiencing.

  • Crystallization Clarified, Researchers Report

    Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University have made it possible to observe and simulate the self-assembly of crystalline materials at a much higher resolution than before.

  • Wang Shares Smart Home Privacy, Inclusive Privacy at NSF Meeting

    Associate Professor Yang Wang will share his work at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) Principal Investigators' Meeting, which will be held on October 28-29 in Washington, D.C. He will share his research from two SaTC-funded projects.

  • New Microscopic Technique Helps Visualize Opaque Structures

    Opaque structures and bulk tissues such as whole animals are difficult to visualize because they scatter light strongly, creating poor contrast images. A new technique developed at the Beckman Institute is one step closer to overcoming those hurdles.

  • CSL Researchers Develop Platform for Scalable Testing of Autonomous Vehicle Safety

    In the race to manufacture autonomous vehicles (AVs), safety is crucial yet sometimes overlooked as exemplified by recent headline-making accidents. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve the safety of autonomous technology through both software and hardware advances.

  • Lee Boosts Solar Efficiency By Combining Materials In New Ways

    To the average person, solar energy may still seem like the technology of the future, but the most common solar panels are reaching the limits of what they can do. Striving for improvements in efficiency, ECE ILLINOIS Associate Professor Minjoo Lawrence Lee of Holonyak Micro & Nanotechnology Lab is advancing solar technology with an approach described in a new paper recently published in the journal Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.

  • Student-Run WaggleNet Grows in Recruits, Knowledge

    It was just two years ago when WaggleNet’s three-member team tested two sensors from their wireless monitoring system to collect data, in real time, at the Illinois Bee Research Facility in Urbana. The open-source, mesh networking system monitors bee health without the need to open hives and uses an ad-hoc network for communication.

  • Parameswaran Aims for Algorithms that would Add Perspective to the Voices from the Crowd

    Professor Aditya Parameswaran plans to use an award from the U.S. Army Research Office’s Young Investigator Program to develop techniques to refine crowd-sourced data by considering the personal perspectives that influence those answers.

  • ECE Illinois Researchers Contribute to NASA ICON Mission

    The Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission launched on Oct. 10 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and some of the data it collects will be the result of work done at ECE ILLINOIS and The Grainger College of Engineering.

  • Alleyne Honored with Control Engineering Practice

    ECE ILLINOIS affiliate Andrew G Alleyne, a MechSE professor, was named the 2018 recipient of the Control Engineering Practice Award from the American Automatic Control Council (AACC).