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Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on Sep 16, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- An international team of researchers has designed decoys that mimic female emerald ash borer beetles and successfully entice male emerald ash borers to land on them in an attempt to mate, only to be electrocuted and killed by high-voltage current.

"Our new decoy and electrocution process may be useful in managing what the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service claims to be the most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America," said Michael Domingue, postdoctoral fellow in entomology, Penn State.

According to the Forest Service, the emerald ash borer was introduced to the United States from China in 2002. Since then, it has spread throughout 24 states and two Canadian provinces, and killed tens of millions of otherwise healthy native ash trees.

"Early detection of the pest in traps such as ours can help in coordinating management strategies to slow its spread and minimize its impact," said Domingue.

The researchers -- including entomologists and engineers at Penn State, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Forest Research Institute in Matrafured, Hungary, and the USDA -- created the decoys using a bioreplication process with nanoscale fidelity.

"Specifically, we coated a dead female beetle with a vapor of nickel, and used the 'nickelized' shell to fabricate two matching molds in the shape of a resting beetle," said Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Charles Godfrey Binder professor of engineering science and mechanics, Penn State. "Pressing a structurally colored plastic sheet between the two molds while simultaneously applying heat, we cast numerous replicas or decoys. The finished bioreplicated decoys retained the surface texture of the beetle at the nanoscale. Additionally, we painted some decoys a metallic green."

The Penn State engineers also created decoys using a 3D-printing process. In this method, they molded plastic into the size and shape of emerald ash borers, but did not attempt to duplicate the surface texture of the insects.
Next, the entomology researchers pinned the bioreplicated and 3D-printed decoys, as well as dead female emerald ash borers, onto leaves in forests in Hungary to see which of them best attracted wild males. In the same forests, the team also placed traps configured with decoys bearing a 4,000-volt charge to electrocute and trap males as they landed on the decoy females.

The results will appear today (Sept. 15) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists found that both types of synthetic decoys, as well as the dead pinned females, elicited initial flights by males toward them. Males nearly always chose to land on the dead females and the more realistic bioreplicated decoys. However, while the males initially flew toward the simpler 3D-printed decoys, they did not land on them. Males would normally quickly leave the bioreplicated decoys after they touched them. Yet, that brief contact was enough for them to become instantly stunned and captured by the trap if the voltage was applied to the decoys.

According to Domingue, the light-scattering properties of the beetle’s shell -- which the team experimentally demonstrated using a white laser -- made the nano-bioreplicated decoys more lifelike and, therefore, more attractive to males than the non-textured 3D-printed decoy.

"We learned that not only do color and shape of a resting female beetle play a role in attracting males to a mate, but also the fine-scale texture of the visible surface is important," said Domingue. "Small bumps and spines on the outer surface of their wings and heads that aren't visible to the human eye scatter light in a distinctive pattern. Beetles appear to be able to recognize this feature of the decoys and are strongly attracted to it. This insight may at least partially explain how mate-seeking males can easily detect and approach green-colored females cryptically resting on green leaves. Ultimately, we have gained new insights into how to manipulate the behavior of emerald ash borers and similar pests in ways that can help to trap them and monitor where they might be doing damage."

According to Thomas C. Baker, distinguished professor of entomology, Penn State, the findings were possible only because of the multidisciplinary makeup of the team.

"I was able to find colleagues whose intellects, expertise, and enthusiasm matched the tasks at hand, thus enabling us to figure out how these destructive beetles find each other to mate and how we can exploit this behavior in order to help APHIS meet its goals of early detection and mitigation of invasive pests," he said.

The researchers said their next step will be to further improve the traps to maximize their potential as part of an early detection tool for emerald ash borers.

"Our laboratory has ongoing research with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service into remote-reporting, Internet-based technologies, and we will be working to couple this research with our ash-borer detection technique so that activity of the pest can be reported and assessed immediately by APHIS personnel, rather than waiting days or weeks until a trap might usually be checked," said Baker.

In addition, the team has been investigating the use of the decoys to attract other insect species, some of which are aggressive feeders on oak trees in central Europe and might threaten North American oaks in urban and forest landscapes much as the emerald ash borer destroyed ash trees.

"We have made progress in our research so far in Hungary these past few summers, and it looks like our decoys can be refined to attract and detect these other, new and potentially invasive pest species effectively," said Domingue.

Other authors on the paper include Drew Pulsifer, recent graduate student in engineering science and mechanics; Loyal Hall, graduate student in entomology; John Badding, professor of chemistry; Jesse Bischof, graduate student in chemistry; Raul Martin-Palma, adjunct professor of materials science and engineering; and Missy Hazen, research technologist, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences; all of Penn State; and Zoltan Imrei of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Gergely Janik of the Forest Research Institute in Matrafured, Hungary, Victor Mastro of the USDA.

The USDA and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences supported this research.

Source: Penn State News
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on Aug 27, 2014
By A'ndrea Elyse Messer
August 25, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Precise, gentle and efficient cell separation from a device the size of a cell phone may be possible thanks to tilt-angle standing surface acoustic waves, according to a team of engineers.

"For biological testing we often need to do cell separation before analysis," said Tony Jun Huang, professor of engineering science and mechanics. "But if the separation process affects the integrity of the cells, damages them in any way, the diagnosis often won't work well."

Tilted-angle standing surface acoustic waves can separate cells using very small amounts of energy. Unlike conventional separation methods that centrifuge for 10 minutes at 3000 revolutions per minute, the surface acoustic waves can separate cells in a much gentler way. The power intensity and frequency used in this study are similar to that used in ultrasonic imaging, which has proven to be extremely safe, even for fetuses. Also, each cell experiences the acoustic wave for only a fraction of a second, rather than 10 minutes.

"The tilted-angle standing surface acoustic waves method has the least disturbance or disruption to the living cells being separated compared to other available methods so far," said Ming Dao, principal research scientist, materials science and engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It adds to the portfolio of latest technology developments for separating such things as rare circulating tumor cells in the blood."

Previous work by Huang showed that acoustic tweezers work by setting up a standing surface acoustic wave. If two sound sources are placed opposite each other and each emits the same wavelength of sound, there will be a location where the opposing sounds cancel each other. Because sound waves have pressure, they can push very small objects, so a cell or nanoparticle will move with the sound wave until it reaches the location where there is no longer movement.

If the sound sources are at right angles to each other, an evenly spaced set of rows and columns form in a checkerboard pattern. In this case, the team from Penn State, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University used simulation programs to determine the angle the sound sources should be tilted at to produce the best separation. They report their results today (Aug. 25) online in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

By tilting the sound source so that it is not perpendicular, the researchers created better separation distance and could more efficiently sort cells.

The acoustic tweezers are made by manufacturing an interdigital transducer, which creates the sound, onto the piezoelectric chip surface. Standard photolithography creates microchannels in which the liquid containing the cells flow.

The researchers created the separator, which can run continuously. The device separated 9.9-micrometer particles from 7.3-micrometer particles so efficiently that 97 percent of the 7.3-micrometer particles went to the correct location. The device can also separate cancer cells from white blood cells with high efficiency and purity. It is simple and inexpensive to fabricate and does not need strict alignment to achieve this separation.

"The method we describe in this paper is a step forward in the detection and isolation of circulating tumor cells in the body," said Subra Suresh, one of the study's authors and president of Carnegie Mellon University. "It has the potential to offer a safe and effective new tool for cancer researchers, clinicians and patients."

The researchers see devices like this one separating cancer cells from other cells, bacteria from blood, white blood cells from red blood cells and malaria parasites from blood, to name a few uses.

Other Penn State researchers on this project were Xiaoyun Ding, graduate student and co-lead author; Sz-Chin Steven Lin, graduate student; Peng li, post doctoral fellow and Yuchao Chen, graduate student, engineering science and mechanics; and Sixing Li, graduate student, cell and developmental biology.

Other researchers were Zhangli Peng, former postdoctoral fellow, materials science and engineering, and Michela Geri, graduate student, mechanical engineering, both at MIT.

The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation funded this work.
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on May 29, 2014
Research teams at the Penn State College of Medicine and University Park campus have received grants from Penn State's Clinical and Translational Science Institute's (CTSI) recent Novel Methodologies in Health Research Program. Nine research projects received more than $400,000 from CTSI.

ESM professor Francesco Costanzo and his research team are developing a model for clot removal in the treatment of acute stroke. Clot removal following acute stroke is successful only in approximately 80 percent of cases with a good clinical outcome in only 50 percent of patients. Barriers to fast, effective cerebral thrombectomy arise due to the mechanical properties of clots and their adhesion to arterial walls. A promising new approach to clot removal from a cerebral artery has been proposed by the group working with Scott Simon, a neurosurgeon at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, in which the clot is attacked via an alternating pressure mediated through blood or saline until the thrombus, a fibrin polymer, fatigues, fractures, and dissipates.

Taking this new technique to clinical practice is challenging and cannot be done by simple “trial and error.” It is in these difficult cases that computer modeling can offer a way forward that cannot otherwise be found by intuition or trial-and-error. Simon (Co-PI) has joined forces with Costanzo (PI) and ESM professor Sulin Zhang (Co-PI), for the development of a computational model of the clot-artery system under cyclic loading as applied by a catheter. This award is a fantastic opportunity to bring together research in engineering and medicine to concretely advance technology in the operating room.
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on May 16, 2014
Metamaterials research having potential applications in high-speed data transmission, medical imaging and other kinds of imaging and remote sensing is the focus of a U.S. Department of Defense project funded for five years at $7.5 million.

Penn State is part of this six-member Multi-University Research Initiative by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The project is led by Mark Cappelli, professor of mechanical engineering, Stanford University. Also collaborating with Stanford are the University of Texas at Austin, Tufts University, UCLA and the University of Washington.

Penn State researchers will focus on the fundamental science necessary to develop plasma photonic crystals and plasma-embedded metamaterials that operate in the terahertz range. Terahertz is the region of the electromagnetic spectrum that lies between far infrared and microwave, and is a nonionizing frequency invisible to the human eye. This regime is already being used in airport surveillance and astronomy.

The researchers will generate the plasmas inside holes in the metamaterial arrays using radio frequency excitation with the entire device encapsulated in an inert gas. Using micro-lens arrays, focused lasers will generate very dense, highly ionized plasma arrays. Unlike the metal structures of typical metamaterials, researchers can control a plasma’s dielectric properties by varying the plasma density. Plasmas afford the possibility of controlling metamaterials at high bandwidth. This will enable such applications as antennas with beam steering, filter devices, multiplexers, phase shifters and electro-optical modulators.

Researchers at Penn State will be the primary team charged to develop a new class of low-loss dielectric resonators and multilayer low temperature co-fired ceramics to replace the usual metallic split-ring resonators found in traditional metamaterial structures. Metamaterials are artificial structures with sub-wavelength features that can interact with electromagnetic waves in a manner unlike that of natural materials. Long-term goals of metamaterials research include invisibility cloaking devices and perfect lenses to capture short-range light waves for fine detail light microscopy.

The principal investigators at Penn State are Clive Randall, professor of materials science and engineering, and Michael Lanagan, professor of engineering science and mechanics. The Penn State team members are pioneers in the development of dielectric materials and leaders in the long-running Center for Dielectric Studies, an industry supported research center that recently was renewed with technical new opportunities with North Carolina State University as the NSF I/UCRC Center for Dielectrics and Piezoelectrics.

Source: Penn State News
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on Mar 19, 2014
Registration is now open for the 18th Annual Corrosion Short Course at Penn State.

The course will cover the fundamentals of corrosion and various electrochemical techniques. Lectures and laboratories will be used to illustrate how electrochemical techniques are applied, when they should be used, and how the various techniques can be integrated to solve complex problems. The course will be useful for people entering the corrosion field and for professionals looking for a refresher course.

Click here for more information.
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on Jan 14, 2014
Amr Elnashai, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering, will host a welcome reception for engineering faculty and staff from 4 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 24, at the Hintz Family Alumni Center on the University Park campus of Penn State.
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on Oct 23, 2013
Penn State announced today that Amr Salah Elnashai will serve as the new dean in the College of Engineering.

Elnashai, currently the head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, succeeds David N. Wormley, who announced his retirement earlier this year after more than two decades as dean. Elnashai will begin Jan. 13 at Penn State. The University Board of Trustees will vote on his appointment at the November meeting.

“Penn State engineering is a premier college of national and international acclaim, and it is a huge honor for me to work with the faculty and staff to further its march of excellence,” Elnashai said. “Leaving the University of Illinois is not easy; joining the Penn State family is an event that my family and I very much look forward to.”

At Illinois, Elnashai is also the Bill and Elaine Hall Endowed Professor and director of hybrid simulation at the National Science Foundation’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulations (NEES) laboratory, where research is conducted on infrastructure design and construction to minimize damage from earthquakes or tsunamis.
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: emg5174 on Jul 24, 2013
Led by engineering science and mechanics professor Michael Lanagan, a team at Penn State’s Materials Research Institute is developing a new use for glass that could make future hybrid-electric and plug-in electric vehicles more affordable and reliable.

The team has collaborated with Nippon Electric Glass and State-College based Strategic Polymer Sciences on developing thin and flexible glass customized to store energy at high temperatures and for high power applications, such as electric vehicle power electronics.

Postdoctoral researcher Mohan Manoharan and colleagues reported their findings in a recent paper, titled “Flexible Glass for High Temperature Energy Storage Capacitors,” featured in the journal Energy Technology.

This news short has been adapted from a Penn State News article. Read the full story here.
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: sls60 on Oct 15, 2012
Postdoctoral opening is available in the Mechanical Properties and Mechanics Group, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

For more information, access the link:
Category: Engineering News
Posted by: jml43 on Jul 3, 2012
The National Research Council of the National Academies sponsors a number of awards for graduate, postdoctoral and senior researchers at participating federal laboratories and affiliated institutions. These awards include generous stipends ranging from $42,000 - $75,000 per year for recent Ph.D. recipients, and higher for additional experience. Graduate entry level stipends begin at $30,000. These awards provide the opportunity for recipients to do independent research in some of the best-equipped and staffed laboratories in the U.S. Research opportunities are open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and for some of the laboratories, foreign nationals. More detailed information and an online application can be found at this website.

Detailed program information, including online applications, instructions on how to apply and a list of participating laboratories, is available on the NRC Research Associateship Programs Website (see link above).

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