ICTAS: New Horizons Seminar

New Horizons Seminar Series

Spring 2017

Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells in Cancer Immune modulation
With: Dmitry Gabrilovich
March 16, 2017 from 3pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Advances in piezoelectric and power-ultrasonic technology at Leibniz Universitat Hannover.
With: Jens Twiefel
January 25, 2017 from 1 pm in 310 Kelly Hall

View Past Seminars (Click to Expand)

Fall 2016 (Click to Expand)

Engaging with DARPA
With: Stefanie Thompkins
October 19, 2016 from 1:15 p.m. in 145 Bioinformatics Phase 2

Magnetics + Mechanics + Nanoscale = Elecromagnetics Future
With: Greg Carman
October 6, 2016 from 9 a.m. in 310 Kelly Hall

Army Research Laboratory Overview and Open Campus
With: Philip Perconti
September 29, 2016 from 2 p.m. in 310 Kelly Hall

Soft, Stretchable, and Reconfigurable Materials for Electronics and Actuators
With: Michael Dickey
September 16, 2016 from 1:30 pm in 1060 Torgersen Hall

Spring 2016 (Click to Expand)

Nano solutions for imaging and treatment of cancer
With: Mark Kester
April 26, 2016 from 2:30pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Dr. Kester will discuss several new initiatives including “repurposing generics” through nanotechnology; delivery of bioactive lipids through nanotechnology; delivery of molecular-based therapies through nanotechnology and delivery of polypeptides and biologics through ORAL nanotechnology, the next revolution. 

The Evolving Disruption
With: Ishwar Puri
March 23, 2016 from 2 pm in 310 Kelly Hall

In the late 1700s, the first industrial revolution powered mechanical equipment with water and steam. The second such revolution in the late 1800s employed electricity for the purpose of mass production. The third industrial revolution in the 1970s was based on electronics, information technologies and automation. We are now largely presumed to be living with the emergent fourth industrial revolution that is fusing our physical, digital, and biological experiences with an unprecedented pace of change and disruption across national and trade boundaries. This is a conversation about how a research-intensive university can respond to the evolving disruption — for instance, by integrating an interdisciplinary education with major research investments in areas of predicted disruption. 

Army Research Laboratory Open Campus Initiative
With: Thomas Russell
March 18, 2016 from 1 pm in Cafe X

The Open Campus initiative of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is a collaborative endeavor, with the goal of building a science and technology ecosystem that will encourage groundbreaking advances in basic and applied research areas of relevance to the Army. Through the Open Campus framework, ARL scientists and engineers will work collaboratively and side-by-side with visiting scientists in ARL’s facilities, and as visiting researchers at collaborators’ institutions.

Physics of Ferroelectric and Multiferroic Domains, Faceting and Actuation
With: Ashok Kumar
March 17, 2016 from 3pm in 117A Randolph

The dynamics of ferroelectric and multiferroic nanodomains have been probed under the constant irradiation of energetic electron beams and conventional contact mode piezoforce microscopy. The oscillation, faceting, and movement of nano-ferroelectric domains, domain walls, and periodicity of freestanding Pb(Zr0.52Ti0.48)O3 (PZT) nanocrystals and nanorods, and room temperature multiferroic PZT-Pb(Zr0.5Ti0.5)O3 will be discussed. The behavior of multiferroic domains under E-fields and M-fields will be presented in the context of change in domains probed by weak energy PFM technology. The faceting of PZT nanocrystals from circular disk geometry to a sharply hexagonal shape has been observed by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). Triangular-shaped domains don’t show any oscillation or faceting. The behavior is analogous to that of spin structure and magnetic domain wall velocity oscillations in permalloy, involving overshoot and de-pinning from defects. A nondestructive E-beam with 300 kV energy was used to understand the actuation behavior of ferroelectric PZT/PVDF composite nanorods 1-5 microns in length and 50-200 nm in diameter under irradiation. It has been observed that nanorods move away almost 5 to 50 nm from the original position depending on the position and time of irradiation and probing/imaging. This mechanical deviation is reversible and robust in nature which indicates that it may be useful for future NEMS devices. Simulation and physical models of these nanostructures will be presented. 

How do you make a micro-robot?
With: Thomas Mallouk
February 23, 2016 from 2:00pm - 3:30pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Engines and motors are everywhere in the modern world, but it is a challenge to make them work if they are very small.  On the micron length scale, inertial forces are weak and conventional motor designs involving, e.g., pistons or flywheels cease to function.  Biological motors work by a different principle and use catalysis to convert chemical to mechanical energy on the nanometer length scale.  Together with Ayusman Sen and other colleagues at Penn State we have explored the concept of using catalysis to power synthetic nano- and micromotors.  Bi- and trimetallic microwires are catalytically self-propelled in fuel-containing solutions at speeds that are comparable to those of flagellar bacteria. Despite the difference in propulsion mechanisms, catalytic motors are subject to the same external forces as natural micromotors such as bacteria.  Therefore they follow the same scaling laws and exhibit similar emergent behavior (e.g., magnetotaxis, chemotaxis, schooling, and predator-prey behavior).  Recently we have found that asymmetric nanowires also undergo autonomous motion and a range of collective behavior in fluids when excited by low power ultrasound.  The acoustic propulsion mechanism may be particularly useful for diagnostic and biomedical applications because it is salt-tolerant and does not involve toxic chemical fuels.    

Innovation frameworks and functional electrodynamics in nano-, bio-, and meta-materials
With: Keith Roper
February 1, 2016 from 2:00pm - 4:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Rising complex challenges to our environment, health, security, and economy in a global market call for new strategies for research that synthesize foundational principles and proven best practices with nascent discoveries and innovative new approaches.  This presentation considers evolving university-government-industry partnerships to translate discovery to marketable innovations and examines the potential of emerging electrodynamic structures with unprecedented functionality in self-assembled biomimetic nanoscale metamaterials.    

Fall 2015 (Click to Expand)

Genomic mechanisms of gene regulation and chromatin organization
With: Franklin Pugh
December 10, 2015 from 3:00pm in Kelly Hall

The large number of genes across eukaryotic genomes begs the question as to whether they are all fundamentally regulated in the same manner.  Clearly, sequence-specific factors direct gene-specific regulation, but then do all downstream events proceed along a common path? To begin to address this question, we use ChIP-exo to map the precise contact points of proteins along genomic DNA. The near single-bp readout provides structural insights into how proteins are organized into complexes across genomes, and how they might position nucleosomes to regulate gene expression.  Multiple classes of complexes occupy nucleosome-free promoter regions:  an ensemble of sequence-specific factors and their coactivators, the core transcription machinery, chromatin remodelers and nucleosomes.  This talk will focus on identifying common principles that determined how factors and chromatin organize themselves at promoters across co-regulated genes, and in genes in general.

Single Cell Analyses of the Human Brain
With: Kun Zhang
November 16, 2015 from 3:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Individual cells in a population are often somewhat different from each other. Measurements made on bulk cell populations do not capture the inherent heterogeneity of the cell population, and important insights can be missed. This talk will cover some technical challenges in analyzing individual cells, and present our recent progress in acquiring genome and transcriptome information from single microbial and mammalian cells, with a special emphasis on human adult neurons.

Avian flight as an inspiration for drone design
With: David Lentink
October 27, 2015 from 2:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Many organisms fly in order to survive and reproduce. I am fascinated by the mechanics of flying birds, insects, and autorotating seeds. Their development as an individual and their evolution as a species are shaped by the physical interaction between organism and surrounding air. It is critical that the organism’s architecture is tuned for propelling itself and controlling its motion. Flying macroscopic animals and plants maximize performance by generating and manipulating vortices. These vortices are created close to the body as it is driven by the action of muscles or gravity, then are ‘shed’ to form a wake (a trackway left behind in the fluid). I study how the organism’s architecture is tuned to utilize the fluid dynamics of vortices. Here I link the aerodynamics of insect wings to that of bat, maple seed and bird wings. The methods used to study all these flows range from robot fly models to maple seeds flying in a vertical wind tunnel to freeze-dried swift wings tested in a low-turbulence wind tunnel. The study reveals that animals and plants have converged upon the same solution for generating high lift: a leading edge vortex that runs parallel to the leading edge of the wing, which it sucks upward. Why this vortex remains stably attached to flapping animal and spinning plant wings is elucidated and linked to kinematics and wing morphology. While wing morphology is quite rigid in insects and maple seeds, it is extremely fluid in birds. Here I show how such ‘wing morphing’ significantly expands the performance envelope of birds during both gliding and flapping flight. Finally I will show how these findings have inspired the design of new flapping and morphing micro air vehicles.

Spring 2015 (Click to Expand)

Engineering Synergy: Energy and Mass Transport in Hybrid Nanomaterials
With: Jeff Urban
May 5, 2015 from 2:00pm - 4:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

The interface between hard and soft condensed matter presents new and compelling research opportunities in the transport of energy and mass due to the dramatic contrasts in bond strength, chemical interactions, and transport modalities between these constituents. Often, however, when inorganic and organic materials are blended into composites, performance suffers and new failure modes appear. Here, I will discuss the design and understanding of transport properties in “hybrid” systems, which show the pivotal role that nanoscale interfaces can play in dictating macroscale transport properties.

Environmental Nanoscience: nanomaterials as emerging pollutants and applications of nanomaterials for the environment
With: Jamie Lead
May 4, 2015 from 2:00pm - 4:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Nanoscience is the science of materials in the size range between 1 and 100 nm, potentially demonstrating properties which are unusual for differently sized materials. Given the scale of the production and their potential deleterious environmental effects, nanomaterials are an emerging contaminant of great importance. The environmental risk of these nanomaterials is poorly constrained due to a fundamental lack of understanding and information on a range of issues. However, nanomaterials are of great potential benefit to the environment as sensors, in remediation and elsewhere. This talk will discuss the research in both areas and discuss tension and approaches at this interface.

Canceled: 4/14 New Horizons Seminar
With: Dr. Wilson
April 14, 2015 from 1:00pm - 3:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Predicting Turbofan Fan-Stage Broadband Noise
With: Sheryl Grace
March 24, 2015 from 1:00pm - 3:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

On approach when a commercial aircraft’s engines are throttled down, the fan stage becomes the main engine noise source. The noise exists mainly due to the interaction of the fan rotor wake with the fan exit guide vanes (FEGVs). Both tonal and broadband noise is produced. We have developed a computational hybrid method that can be used during the design phase to predict the broadband interaction noise. A low-order cascade response solution forms the backbone of the RSI (rotor-stator interaction) method that will be discussed. Input to RSI consists of rotor wake properties currently taken from either experimental data or a Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) flow simulation. The basis for and outcomes of modeling choices made within the RSI framework will be presented. Comparison between measured and predicted noise levels indicates the method can provide the trend prediction necessary for design.

Watershed Storage and the Spatial Patterns of Streamflow Generation
With: Dr. Brian McGlynn
February 24, 2015 from 2:30pm - 3:30pm in 310 Kelly Hall

The storage and release of water to streamflow is a fundamental watershed process. De- spite this, our understanding of the relationships between watershed storage state and streamflow magnitude are poorly understood, especially the roles of antecedent conditions, water redistribution patterns, and resulting hydrologic connectivity between uplands and streams. This presentation focuses on these concepts with examples from a highly instru- mented and data-rich watershed located in Central Montana. 

Gold Nanocrystals: Applications in Biology and Environmental Impact
With: Dr. Catherine J. Murphy
February 12, 2015 from 12:30pm-2:00pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Gold nanoparticles are well known to absorb and scatter light as a function of particle size and shape. Gold nanorods, in particular, show strong plasmon resonances that are tunable with aspect ratio in the near-infrared. The strong elastic scattering of these nanomaterials makes them good candidates for bioimaging agents, and the heat they generate makes them good candidates for photothermal therapeutics. A world-renowned expert in gold nanoparticle synthesis, Dr. Cathy Murphy will highlight both the biological applications and implications of these nanomaterials, will emphasize the importance of initial surface chemistry for their properties, and will present results of their interactions with living cells, organisms, and model ecosystems. 

Fall 2014 (Click to Expand)

Unlocking the Benefits of Nuclear Science and Technology
With: Dr. Alan Icenhour
November 20, 2014 from 1-2 pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Dr. Alan Icenhour, became the Associate Laboratory Director (ALD) for the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate (NSED) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in February 2014. NSED operates state-of-the-art nuclear facilities and conducts technology development and application programs that impact a large range of fields from basic science to reactor development to national security. As ALD, Dr. Icenhour leads three research divisions (Fusion and Materials for Nuclear Systems, Nuclear Security and Isotope Technology, and Reactor and Nuclear Systems), one operating division (Nonreactor Nuclear Facilities), and the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors, the U.S. Department of Energy’s first energy innovation hub. NSED mission areas include research and development (R&D) for both fission and fusion technologies; advanced modeling and simulation; stable and radioactive isotope R&D and production; research, development, and deployment of technologies to address nuclear security challenges globally; and safe and efficient operation of ORNL’s nuclear facilities. Since July 2008, he has served as director of three ORNL divisions: the Global Nuclear Security Technology Division, the Fuel Cycle and Isotopes Division, and most recently, the Nuclear Security and Isotope Technology Division.

Institutional Change Towards Sustainable Intensification of African Agriculture
With: Dr. Paul Struik
November 11, 2014 from 2-4 pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Paul C. Struik is head of the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis and professor of crop physiology at Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands. He obtained his PhD with distinction in 1983 from Wageningen University. Since 1986 he has been a full-time professor responsible for teaching and research in crop and grassland science. He has carried out research on forage crops, potato physiology, seed production technology, crop ecology, and the use of nonfood crops. He currently is involved in research projects on social and agronomic aspects of biodiversity in Africa, QTL-based modelling of crop growth and quality, micronutrient husbandry, modelling of basic processes in photosystems of C3 and C4 plants under stress, 3D modelling, and chain management of agricultural produce in Africa. He is (co-)/ author of more than 400 scientific papers, 15 books, and more than 160 papers in proceedings/books of abstracts. He has supervised over 85 PhD candidates and currently supervises about 30 PhD students.

Smart Materials Based on Cellulose Nanocrystals
With: Dr. Johan Foster
October 22, 2014 from 2-4 pm in 310 Kelly Hall

Dr. Johan Foster focuses on advanced functional and supramolecular bio(nano)materials: design, synthesis, and engineering of bioinspired, biosourced functional polymers, supramolecular materials, and nanocomposites; stimuli-responsive materials; and biomedical materials; and has combined covalent and noncovalent interactions to create structured smart materials. Dr. Foster is a new Associate Professor in Virginia Tech’s Materials Science and Engineering Department and a new member of Virginia Tech’s Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute. He previously led a group of 8-12 researchers (Ph.D. students and post-docs) at the Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI) in Switzerland, who focused on cellulosic nanocrystals, smart materials, nanocomposites, synthesis, functionalization, and biomedical implants. He came to Virginia Tech after doing a post-doctoral fellowship with Bert Meijer at Technical University Eindhoven, in The Netherlands, and a Ph.D. at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

Future Fuels: Developing Tomorrow's Energy
With: Dr. Rodica A. Baranescu
October 3, 2014 from 11:15am -12:05pm in 310 Kelly Hall

The world as we know it today is heading towards an unsustainable energy future. The present carbon based energy system is insecure, inefficient and certainly unsustainable. Bold change is required in direction of policies, in redirecting and increasing support in search of new energy responding to the escalating increase in energy demand worldwide. One significant characteristic of fuels and energy is that all the issues have become global and the interest in evolving the technologies crosses borders and continents. An important evidence of global thinking in energy and fuels is the Worldwide Fuel Charter (WWFC). This unique document was issued for the first time in 1998 by four global automotive organizations from USA, Europe and Japan, plus 15 other national automotive organizations. The Charter aims to promote understanding of the fuel quality needs world-wide, to satisfy specific needs in accordance with technological development of vehicles. 

Assessment of Critical Community Functions after Disasters
With: Dr. Judith Mitrani-Reiser
September 26, 2014 from 2:30-4 pm in 310 Kelly Hall

In recent years, many disasters have occurred which resulted in damage to critical community healthcare functions. The 2011 Christchurch and 2010 Bío-Bío earthquakes, Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and tornadoes in Joplin, MO and Moore, OK all resulted in severe damage to local hospitals, putting great strain on the healthcare systems of these regions. The continued functionality of critical infrastructure, such as healthcare facilities, is necessary following a major event. Healthcare delivery facilities are essential in disasters: they provide emergency medical care related to the event and regular health services required to maintain the health of the community they serve. To provide adequate services to patients, healthcare facilities rely on a wide range of internal and external functions, each of which are part of a complex network of interacting systems. The loss of a single function can severely disrupt the ability to provide care during the critical first hours.

To improve the resilience of facilities like these, decision-makers first need a way to quantify their performance due to extreme loading from natural hazards, both predictively and retrospectively. Dr. Judith Mitrani-Reiser’s presentation will show a risk analysis framework for quantifying and predicting the loss, recovery, and resilience of healthcare facilities. The theoretical framework accounts for loss of service due to building and utility damage, as well as impacts to key personnel and resources/supplies needed to provide clinical and nonclinical services. Dr. Mitrani-Reiser’s presentation will also show a standardized methodology to collect and analyze field data of critical building systems to better correlate physical damage with loss of functionality of healthcare facilities.

Nanotechnology and Food Safety
With: Dr. George A. Burdock
September 9, 2014 from 2-4 pm in 310 Kelly Hall

"Pigs oink, dogs bark and regulators regulate" – an aphorism attributed to a former Commissioner of FDA, Dr. Frank Young, is likely very prescient when it comes to the subject of nanotechnology and the food supply. Although FDA has historically been a more "reactive" agency for fear of accusations of stifling technology, the agency is in the process of issuing guidelines for the use of nanotechnology despite the lack of evidence of any harm to consumers or even evidence of the use of nanotechnology being in the food supply. It is clear FDA sees an "opportunity" to regulate what is becoming a phenomenally game-changing, cross-cutting technology in any number of industries. In support of nanotechnology regulation for food, government agencies will cite ample precedent of previously unrealized threats including phocomelia (thalidomide), mesothelioma (asbestos workers), and even butter flavor in microwave popcorn manufacture ("popcorn lung" in workers) but will largely ignore the false alarms about genetically modified foods ("frankenfoods"), thimerosal in vaccines (autism), and cancer resulting from cell phones, aspartame, and saccharin.

Summer 2014 (Click to Expand)

Mimicking Submicron Features of Life in Micro+Nanotechnologies
With: Dr. Samir M. Iqbal, University of Texas at Arlington
July 23, 2014 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm in 310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech

The basic building blocks of flesh and bones depict submicron features. Cancer cells break apart from a primary tumor once there is a nutritional crisis in the tissue. These metastatic cells pass through layers of tissue and fat to get to the bloodstream. A new dimension to solid-state device fabrication at micro and nanometer scales is emerging that mimics what rogue cells do. The probing, detection, and characterization of biological entities is bound to unravel disease pathways at both molecular and cellular scales. This seminar will discuss work on the early detection of cancer at molecular and cellular scales. The integration of biomedical engineering, nanoscience, and nanotechnology with the living aspect differentiates focus in diverse areas like nanomanufacturing, molecular diagnostics, and chip-based recognition of cancer cells.

Spring 2014 (Click to Expand)

The age of integration: Biologically-inspired design as a strategy to combat the “silo” effect
With: Marc Weissburg, Georgia Tech
May 13, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in 310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech

The Center for Biologically Inspired Design at GA Tech is a response to global challenges in education and sustainable technology development. Our  goal is to facilitate, develop infrastructure for, and promote interdisciplinary research and education. This represents an effort to train scientists for increasingly complex problems in sustainability and develop novel and benign solutions for these problems.  The Center for Biologically Inspired Design is led by Biology and comprised of faculty from a variety of engineering and science disciplines, as well as architecture and industrial design.  These faculty rely on interdisciplinary approaches to solve today’s complex problems. A key activity is studying biological systems for principles that have high potential to function as a template for addressing human challenges, such as the development of urban infrastructure systems or enabling the solar power industry.  In addition,  we focus on developing the pedagogy for interdisciplinary collaboration using theories derived from cognitive and learning sciences, and science education. Here, bio inspired design serves as a template for creative and interdisciplinary interactions, requiring biologists, engineers, and designers to learn how to communicate across disciplines and transfer ideas from different domains in a fruitful effort.  I will describe some of the challenges and successes that we have experienced in developing this educational and research effort. 

Towards Ubiquitous Cost-competitive Solar Power
With: Ranga Pitchumani, Advanced Materials and Technologies Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech
May 2, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in 310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech

There is more solar energy reaching the earth in one hour than the combined worldwide human consumption of energy in one year. Tapping into this enormous potential requires reducing the cost of solar collection and storage and increasing the efficiency of solar energy conversion to electricity. To this end, the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative calls for an aggressive reduction in the overall systems costs by 75% to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy, without subsidies, by the end of the decade. In just 3 years into the decade-long initiative, we are over the halfway mark in the cost reductions needed towards achieving grid parity of solar-generated electricity. In fact, 2013 was a record year for solar with the U.S. surpassing the 10 GW milestone.  While the initial cost reductions are impressive, much work remains in addressing the challenges toward fully realizing the SunShot goal. The talk will highlight the technical challenges, and the transformative and holistic approaches being pursued to address the goals of cost reduction and greater adoption of solar energy technologies. The talk will also discuss the importance of energy storage as more renewable sources join our nation’s power generation fleet. 

Engineered living flagellum
With: Taher Saif
April 18, 2014 from 3:00 - 4:00 pm in 310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech

For the last few decades, engineering has produced marvelous machines and devices. With increasing understanding of living cells, there are possibilities of developing biological machines where engineering precision meets the variability of life. Can order emerge from such variability and chaos? If so, then one can envision machines with unprecedented capabilities, as they would carry the footprints of the evolutionary journey of life. Here, we demonstrate an elementary biological machine. A large family of micro-organisms such as bacteria and spermatozoa wag or twist hair-like flagella to swim. At this small scale, locomotion is challenged by large viscous drag and negligible inertial forces. The organisms must generate time irreversible deformation of their flagella to produce thrust. Mimicking this strategy, we developed a self-propelled, microscale flagellar biohybrid swimmer by combining a unique fabrication and cell culture technique with a slender body hydrodynamics model [1]. Our swimmer consists of a PDMS filament shaped like a spermatozoa with a short, rigid head and long, slender tail on which cardiomyocytes are selectively cultured. The cardiomyocytes contract and bend the filament. The bending wave travels towards the tail end of the filament generating a fluid drag, which acts as a thrust to propel the swimmer forward against its longitudinal drag. The swimmer demonstrates the feasibility of an autonomous synthetic biohybrid swimmer at small scale that can be incorporated into more complex designs.

[1] Nature Communications, Jan 17, 2014, DOI:10.1038/ncomms4081

Future Needs and Opportunities in Nanotechnology for Aerospace Applications – A NASA Perspective
With: Michael A. Meador, Manager, Nanotechnology Project, Game Changing Development Program
April 10, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in 310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech

Weight, performance and durability are critical drivers for any aerospace system.  Reduced vehicle and system weight can enable reduced fuel consumption and emissions (aircraft), reduced launch costs and complexity (spacecraft) and increased payload capacity.  Performance improvements can enhance vehicle and mission capability.  System and vehicle durability are important since they impact mission safety and effectiveness.  Nanotechnology has the potential to help address each of these concerns by enabling such developments as lightweight, multifunctional materials; low-power and low-volume sensors with high selectivity and sensitivity; radiation-hard, fault-tolerant electronics; and higher output energy generation and storage devices.  NASA has developed a 20-plus-year plan for the development of nanostructured materials and devices and their insertion into NASA missions.  This presentation will provide a perspective on future needs identified in the roadmap and a few examples of current research activities focused on meeting those needs.

Using Sunlight to turn Water and Carbon Dioxide into Fuel
With: Nathan Lewis, Director, Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, U.S. DOE Energy Innovation Hub
March 25, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in 310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech

In the DOE Energy Innovation Hub, the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, we are developing a non-biological, artificial photosynthetic system that will generate fuels directly from sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide.  This talk will include a discussion of a feasible and functional prototype and blueprint for an artificial photosynthetic system that is composed of only inexpensive, earth-abundant materials, as well as results, recently achieved at Caltech, which demonstrate technical progress towards the development of the artificial photosynthetic prototype.  

Lipid-Calcium-Phosphate (LCP) Nanoparticles for Drug and Gene Delivery
With: Leaf Huang, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor, Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
March 21, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Seminar Room

Small nanoparticles (30-50 nm) containing an amorphous precipitate of calcium phosphate with a wrapping lipid bilayer have been developed to deliver impermeable drugs and genes to intracellular targets. Plasmid DNA, siRNA, peptide antigen and small chemo drugs have been delivered with LCP to tumor and liver. Dr. Leaf Huang will discuss both mechanism and application of the nanoparticles.

Measurement and reference frames in hydrology, ecology, and environmental law
With: Martin Doyle, Duke University
January 28, 2014 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in 310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech

Natural scientists must combine temporal and spatial information to develop an understanding of the biophysical dynamics that shape the distribution of natural resources, organisms, communities, and chemicals.  Recent developments in sensor technology are transforming temporal and spatial resolution of data collection.  These developments will likely alter how data are collected, and potentially alter our most conceptualizations of how natural systems work.

This seminar will explore the evolution of reference frames in hydro-ecology (hydraulics, fish movement, biogeochemistry), and how different measurement techniques have caused the re-conceptualization of reference frames.  The seminar will then expand into environmental law, with the notion that U.S. environmental law is just as sensitive to frames of reference as fluid mechanics, cartography, and any other discipline that studies natural phenomena, and that the assumed reference frame predetermines how we conceive of environmental problems and solutions far more than we realize. The emergence of novel measurement technologies will not only change hydro-ecology, but has the potential to invert accepted applications of environmental law.

Fall 2013 (Click to Expand)

From Environmental Science to Next Generation Manufacturing Materials: How Important is Nano?
With: Martin Keller, Associate Laboratory Director, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
November 19, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

The development of a sustainable energy portfolio to mitigate climate change is one of the great challenges we are facing today.  The United States has set goals to develop a bio-based industry for fuel, power, and other products.  At the same time, we are seeing an increasing investment in renewable energies, like wind and solar.  The development of new technologies leading to a clean energy economy will be critical to long-term economic competitiveness and the ability to win the future.  This investment has to be coupled with next generation manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing.  
These goals have engendered a growing interest in the production of biomass and its conversion to fuels and materials.  Novel deconstruction methods focusing on enzymatic catalysis of biomass allowing targeted access to cheap sugars derived from cellulose and hemicellulose and will permit the exploration of other plant cell wall components such as lignin. Lignin, among other applications, is evaluated as precursor for carbon fiber production. Traditional carbon fiber, derived from fossil fuel precursors is currently used in many high-end applications such as light-weighing of high-end sports cars to increase performance.  The production of carbon fiber at lower cost will allow the use in conventional vehicles leading to substantial weight saving.  Weight reduction has a direct impact on fuel economy and is a targeted goal to achieve future fuel standards.  Lignin carbon fiber researchers at ORNL developed a novel process for lignin carbon fiber spinning which reduces the carbon fiber cost significantly, opening the door for use in conventional vehicles.  Combined with the use of alternative fuel sources and electrification, this can break petroleum’s vise grip on transportation.
This presentation will give an overview of various research areas within ORNL focusing on the integration of technologies towards a sustainable community in the future. 

Single Virus Bioimaging in Pursuit of Pre-symptomatic Disease Diagnosis
With: Bennett Goldberg, Boston University Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology
October 22, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

For the entire history of mankind, the treatment of disease has been limited by the simple fact that diagnosis follows the appearance of symptoms. While we do administer prophylactics in cases of known exposure and high risk, and recommend regular check-ups to identify onset of illness based on genomic analysis and epidemiologically determined environmental risk factors, the question still remains - how would medicine change if pre-symptomatic diagnosis were commonplace? From the simplest perspective, drugs work better when applied earlier in infection and could in cases be replaced by immune system adjuvants. More interesting would be the capability of pre-symptomatic determination of an unknown infection state, for example during the 2003 SARS coronavirus or 2009 Influenza outbreaks, or after a biothreat. 

To address the challenge, we have developed a platform capable of detecting single nanoparticles and viruses with high throughput, no amplification and at low cost. Interferometric, multi-color imaging on simple substrates provides the ability to rapidly scan and identify size, shape, orientation and material properties of single nanoparticles and viruses. To detect and size pathogens, our Interferometric Reflectance Imaging Sensor (IRIS) shines light from multi-color LED sources sequentially on viruses and nanoparticles bound to the sensor surface, which consists of a silicon dioxide layer atop of a silicon substrate. Interference of light reflected from the sensor surface is modified by the presence of particles producing a distinct signal that reveals the size of the particle. In our approach the dielectric layered structure acts as an optical antenna optimizing the elastic scattering characteristics of nanoparticles for sensitive detection and analysis. We have successfully detected 35 nm and 50 nm radius particles and H1N1 viruses (illustrated in the conceptual picture, right) with accurate size discrimination.  Au nanoparticle tagging allows us to detect attogram (sub-picomolar) quantities of biomarkers on a platform capable of high-throughput screening. Our current limit of detection is < 100aM for protein in serum and < 500aM in whole blood. From the perspective of disease diagnosis and treatment, we have recently achieved sensitivity of less than 104 pfu/ml of an Ebola virus analog in serum, and explored multiplexed detection of Ebola, Marburg and Lasa pseudotypes at pre-symptomatic concentration in blood.

Designing metallic glasses with tailored radiation response using reduced order mesoscale models
With: Michael J. Demkowicz, MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering
October 17, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

Computational materials science brings a physics-based materials design capability within reach. However, materials design for radiation response is challenging because it deals with inherently collective mechanisms operating at multiple time and length scales. I will present a design strategy built on reduced order mesoscale models, which afford simplified descriptions of the essential physics of complex, collective materials phenomena. As an illustration, I will explain how metallic glasses may be altered to achieve tailored radiation response.

Anomalous Dynamics and Post-chaotic Self-organization of Impulsively Loaded Plates, Shells, Rods and Beams
With: Dr. Nicholas Nechitailo, Naval Surface Warfare Center
October 9, 2013 from 2:45 - 3:45 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

Two phenomena have been discovered by the author: 1 the anomalous motion of impulsively loaded nonlinear structures and 2 the post-chaotic self-organization with final states formed according to their natural modes. Under pulse loads of certain durations and amplitudes, various elastic-plastic structures exhibited unusual chaotic motion and reverse buckling with final deflections in the direction opposite to the loads, and in some cases with unexpected loss of axial symmetry. Impulsively stretched rods buckled and obtained final shapes similar to the classical shapes of statically compressed slender rods. There is a region of extremely high sensitivity to small perturbations in the load parameters, material properties, energy dissipation, the computational mesh, single- or double-precision calculations and integration scheme (explicit, implicit or their combinations). In this region, several reliable numerical models based on commonly used differential equations of motion predicted conflicting deformation patterns. These two phenomena may have implications in various non-mechanical systems (such as economics, finance, politics, biology, etc.) modeled by similar equations and analyzed by using similar numerical methods. 

Presented in partnership with the Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

Wind Plant Aerodynamics- A Spectral Analysis for Energy Entrainment
With: Luciano Castillo,Executive Director/President, National Wind Resource Center, Texas Tech University
October 8, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

During the first portion of this seminar, extensive PIV data collected from a scaled down 3 blade, 3 x 5 turbine array is shown. In order to understand how large-scales motions play a role in providing mean kinetic energy (MKE) to the array, low dimensional tools based on a proper orthogonal decomposition (POD) are used to analyze the spatially developing velocity field inside the scaled array. From this analysis, modal decomposition of the Reynolds stresses and fluxes of the MKE are constructed. Thus, from these modal expansions it is established that low order modes have large contributions to Reynolds shear stress regardless of analysis domain.  In addition, it will be shown that mean kinetic energy transport resulting from Reynolds shear stress typically serves to bring energy into the array while transport terms associated with Reynolds wall-normal stress typically removes energy from the array. Furthermore, it will be shown that the sum of the first 13 modes for the mean fluxes contributes 75% of the total Reynolds shear stress in the domain.

The concept of coherent transfers of energy is employed here as means to uncover the scales responsible for the entrainment of mean kinetic energy into the array. The major contributions to the MKE entrainment are achieved by large-scale motions associated with sums of the Reynolds shear stress, (idiosyncratic) modes. Thus, the sum of the first 9 modes yield 54% of the total energy entrainment, with scales given by L ~ 13D associated with this sum.  From these results, it is clear that scales of the order of the total wind farm size are those, which are critical in determining how much power can be extracted from the atmospheric boundary layer. In addition, during this seminar it will be shown that dispersive stresses are also important in the energy entrainment and dissipation in wind arrays with complex topography and where proximity between turbines exists.

Dr. Castillo’s presentation is co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Center for Renewable Energy and Aerodynamic Testing (CREATe). Established in the fall of 2012, CREATe brings together faculty interested in wind energy who possess expertise in related technical areas. CREATe is designed to be interdisciplinary and is coordinated with Virginia Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

Kinetochore Microtubule Attachments and Accurate Chromosome Segregation
With: Dileep Varma, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil
September 20, 2013 from 3:30 - 5:00 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

Mitosis is critical for the faithful segregation of genetic material among the two daughter cells. During mitosis, a eukaryotic cell assembles a bipolar spindle from dynamic microtubules. Chromosome segregation is accomplished by the concerted function of the mitotic spindle and kinetochores, mega-protein assemblies formed at centromeres of chromosomes. Kinetochores attach end-on to spindle microtubules and generate forces that orient and move sister chromosome pairs to the spindle equator at metaphase and segregate them to opposite spindle poles in anaphase. Kinetochores are also the sites of an efficient intracellular signaling mechanism called the spindle assembly checkpoint that has a major role in preventing inaccurate chromosome segregation. Unequal segregation of the chromosomes can have catastrophic consequences (chromosomal instability) leading to tumorigenesis and birth defects. Despite the progress we have made to characterize many of the molecules and mechanisms involved in mitosis, we are still lacking a completely mechanistic understanding of how kinetochores attach properly to spindle MTs and how they serve to move and segregate the chromosomes accurately. My research is focused towards understanding how kinetochores accomplish these key functions during mitosis.

Advancing Convergence and Innovation in Cancer Research: National Cancer Institute Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI)
With: Jerry S.H. Lee, Ph.D. Deputy Director, Office of the Director, Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives
September 13, 2013 from 4:00 - 5:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI) is a component of the NCI’s Office of the Director focused on emerging advanced technologies that have the potential of uniquely impacting the full spectrum of cancer basic and clinical research.  The Center is tasked with planning, developing, executing, and implementing rapid strategic scientific and technology initiatives  that keep the Institute ahead of the scientific curve with respect to potential new exciting areas and discoveries.  This may involve direct development and application of advanced technologies, synergy of large scale and individual initiated research, and/or using available federal mechanisms to forge novel partnerships that emphasize innovation, trans-disciplinary teams and convergence of scientific disciplines.  With an emphasis on complementing the scientific efforts of other NCI divisions, CSSI’s efforts seek to enable the translation of discoveries into new interventions, both domestically and in the international arena, to detect, prevent and treat cancer more effectively.  This presentation will highlight various programs and their associated accomplishments within CSSI’s broad scientific portfolio of programs (Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium, Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers, Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies, and Provocative Questions) and describe future directions and opportunities.

Fundamental Characterization and Modeling of Infiltrated SOFC Cathode
With: Xingbo Liu, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department, Benjamin Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University
September 10, 2013 from 3:30 - 5:00 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are promising candidates for future energy conversion systems because of their high energy conversion efficiency than those for conventional heat engine systems and other types of fuel cells. However, there are several major technical hurdles to overcome before SOFC’s wide applications, namely (1) impurity effects on anode, (2) developing interconnect coatings to mitigate Cr-poisoning related issues, and (3) developing highly efficient and stable cathode. Infiltration methods have been widely employed to improve the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) kinetics of SOFC cathode. The principal assumption in infiltration is that infiltrants having high oxygen absorption capabilities enhance oxygen flux into the cathode and thus improve the cathode performance. However, few systematic investigations exist on ORR mechanisms in infiltrated SOFC cathodes. In this talk, we report our studies on several issues fundamental related to infiltrated cathode: (1) Improving Data Accuracy of Electrical Conductivity Relaxation (ECR) Method; (2) Using ECR to Characterize Oxygen Interfacial Exchange Behavior; and (3) ORR Modeling in infiltrated Cathode. The preliminary results show that over-potential, as well as other materials’ intrinsic characters, have important effect on ORR behavior in infiltrated cathode.

Ion Mediated “Polymerization” of Nanoparticles: A Platform to Build Novel Devices and Their Application to Cell Biology
With: Ravi F. Saraf, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
August 16, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

An exciting feature of nanotechnology is that between 1 and 100 nm length scale the behavior of a system or material becomes size dependent opening unique possibilities. For example, at cryogenic temperatures, current through one or an array of ~10 nm nanoparticles is non-Ohmic due to local charging by a single electron. I will describe an array of 10 nm Au nanoparticles made by directed self-assembly to form a two dimensional (2D) network of one dimensional (1D) necklaces. The “polymerized nanoparticle” necklaces exhibit a robust single electron effect at room temperature. Furthermore, by modulating the electrical double layer around the necklace array, we have demonstrated the first single electron transistor operating in water. In this talk, I will describe the electrical, optical, and magnetic characteristics of these systems and their applications to biology, especially photosynthesis.

Summer 2013 (Click to Expand)

Research and Capabilities at the National Wind Technology Center
With: Fort Felker, Center Director, National Wind Technology Center
June 28, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), the nation’s premier wind energy technology research facility, fosters innovative wind energy technologies for land-based and offshore wind through its research and testing facilities and extends these capabilities to marine hydrokinetic water power. Dr. Fort Felker will present an overview of these exciting research areas in the context of increasing worldwide demand for wind power.

Winter 2013 (Click to Expand)

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research: Research Efforts in Plant Biology for Southern Virginia Economic Development
With: Dr. Barry Flinn, Director,Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research
April 16, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in Kelly Hall, 310

The Institute for Sustainable and Renewable Resources (ISRR) is a research center of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, VA. The ISRR’s mandate focuses on the use of plant biology to enhance economic and community development in Southern Virginia. To achieve this, the ISRR has targeted their efforts in several areas, using expertise in plant tissue culture, molecular biology, biochemistry, genomics, breeding and plant transformation. Research areas have focused on the development of high value horticultural and forestry crops, the development and propagation of bioenergy crops, and the identification of novel products/bio-renewables from plants. This presentation will provide an overview of the various projects taking place at the IALR, and how they are being used to create economic opportunities for the region.

Immersive Sciences as Building Blocks for the Training of Tomorrow
With: Peter Squire, program officer for Human Performance, Training, and Education (HPT&E) in the Office of Naval Research's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department
April 1, 2013 from 10:00 - 11:30 am in ICTAS 310

The Infantry is the soul of the Marine Corps and its training is very traditional focusing on field exercises. Budget, safety, and manpower factors continue to impact the ability to conduct live training exercise, so there is a growing interest in developing simulations for infantry that are akin to those used by aviators. However, the technical challenges faced by ground forces differ from those in other environments. I will describe a few of the technical challenges associated with training USMC ground forces, and provide an overview of the efforts that HPT&E is undertaking to address those technical challenges. I will specifically focus my talk on the use of immersive sciences to develop basic understanding and frameworks that can then be applied to more advanced research efforts.

Nanomaterials for Defense Applications
With: Chris Haines,Senior Materials Engineer at US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC)
March 26, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in ICTAS 310

The talk will focus on the use, both near-term and more futuristic, of nanomaterials for defense applications. Unlike commercial applications which seek to utilize nanotechnology to make products more marketable (longer hitting golf clubs/baseball bats, superior cosmetics, tougher automotive components, etc), the Department of Defense (DoD) is only concerned about providing the Warfighter with the most advanced technologies available. Therefore, DoD’s impetus for exploring nanotechnology is primarily for enhanced lethality or increased survivability. Nanophase and nanostructured materials will be discussed, with an emphasis on the differences between the two. I will highlight some interesting work in areas such as pyrotechnics, energetics, and armor. Topics to be discussed range from semi-mature technologies which are on the verge of insertion into end items to futuristic (pie-in-the-sky) technologies for future forces.

Assessing Risk for TiO2 Phototoxicity Under Natural Sunlight Conditions
With: Dr. Steve Diamond, Research Biologist, USEPA/Mid-Continent Ecology Division
March 19, 2013 from 10:00 - 11:30 am in ICTAS 310

Over the last several years we have been investigating the potential phototoxicity of photocatalytic forms of nano-scale titanium dioxide. Our concern regarding this material derives in part from the considerable focus given to development and application of these materials in surface coatings and the development of more powerful photocatalysts. To date, we have demonstrated that TiO2 toxicity in Daphnia magna is dramatically higher ( 4 orders of magnitude) under environmentally relevant levels of solar radiation compared to its toxicity under typical laboratory lighting. In Japanese medaka, these comparisons reveal a two order of magnitude increase in toxicity. We have also demonstrated that band gap estimates from physical-chemical measurements accurately predict the specific wavelengths of solar radiation that initiate the photo-chemical reactions that underly phototoxicity in these materials. We have used this proof to calculate a weighting function that predicts activity, estimated from production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and correlated this with whole-organism responses. This outcome provides the basis for rapidly assessing the hazard of various forms of TiO2 without the need for extensive animal testing. Other factors that can mitigate risk in natural environments include the presence of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and the extent of TiO2 agglomeration. Our preliminary results suggest that DOM acts most strongly as a ROS quencher or by otherwise altering TiO2 reactivity, rather than simply as a solar radiation filter. Also, over a narrow range (ca 200 to 800 nm diameters) agglomeration seems to have little effect of photoreactivity. These results will be described with reference to the US EPA focus on developing methods for assessing hazard and risk of manufactured nanomaterials.

New Reactor Concept for Sustainable Nuclear Power: Integral Inherently Safe Light Water Reactor (I2S-LWR)
With: Bojan Petrovic, Professor, Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology
February 26, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm in ICTAS 310

Securing energy supply is one of the grand challenges we are facing today and it is difficult to envision a plausible solution without nuclear power. Dr. Petrovic will provide an overview of the current nuclear power technology and discuss research directions aimed at developing new nuclear power plants. New plant designs are expected to offer improved characteristics with respect to safety, economics and waste management. Examples of representative nuclear plants and systems addressing these requirements will be presented.

Dr. Petrovic will then introduce a new reactor concept, Integral Inherently Safe Light Water Reactor (I2S-LWR). This concept aims to improve safety and economics of future nuclear plants, through significant innovations, at the same time remaining anchored to the proven Light Water Reactor (LWR) technology. I2S-LWR design concept employs reactor configuration with an integral primary circuit to implement inherent safety features, at the same time keeping the plant power at a GWe level. This requires innovations in the enabling technologies – safety approach and novel design of nuclear fuel and primary circuit components. I2S-LWR is being developed under a DOE Integrated Research Project (IRP) research grant, recently awarded to a multidisciplinary team of 11 national and international organizations, including the Virginia Tech Nuclear Engineering Program.

Improving Our Vision of Nanobiology
With: Deborah Kelly, Assistant Professor, VTC Research Institute Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, College of Science at Virginia Tech
January 29, 2013 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm in ICTAS 310

Understanding the properties of molecular machines is a common goal of biologists and engineers. Technical barriers in high-resolution imaging limit our knowledge of dynamic events at the nanoscale level. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) permits us to peer into the world of cells and molecules. However, functional machines must be fixed in order to enter the ultrahigh vacuum system of a TEM. This is typically accomplished by freezing specimens at high velocity in a thin film of vitreous ice. Although ice preserves the structural features of biological assemblies, it also arrests them, making it difficult to understand dynamic mechanisms. Recent advances in the development of materials such as graphene and silicon nitride provide new opportunities for TEM imaging in real-time. I will describe our efforts to exploit these new materials and to create environmental chambers for performing experiments in situ or "inside" the TEM column. In conjunction with new microfluidic-based specimen holders, we can now view biological machinery in a native liquid environment with nanometer resolution. This allows us to visualize dynamic mechanisms in a completely new way. We are applying this new technology to better understand viral and cellular processes for biomedical applications.

Fall 2012 (Click to Expand)

The Sustainable Use of Water: A Framework for Global Analysis
With: Faye Duchin, Professor of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
December 11, 2012 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm in Conference room of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Virginia Tech

Economics is concerned with the allocation of scarce resources among competing demands for them for the consumption, production, and trade of goods and services. In responding to challenges surrounding resource use, contemporary economic analyses increasingly include the availability and use of land, subsoil materials, and my focus today, water. Over the past several years my colleagues and I have carried out a series of studies about global agriculture, examining the adequacy of the water supply to feed a more affluent population expected to reach 9-10 billion by 2050. I describe the distinctive features of our model of the global economy, namely the logic governing regional constraints on water availability, the trade in water-intensive goods, and the incorporation of alternative agricultural technologies, rainfed and irrigated. I discuss the main empirical results, a strong prominence for Africa and Latin America in future agricultural production and the role that the expansion of irrigation infrastructure could play to increase food production without deforestation. I plan next to investigate ways to reverse the mining of aquifers. From a modeling point of view, this requires distinguishing surface from ground water sources for irrigation (and other uses) and representing not only water flows but also stocks -- in particular the capacities and recharge rates of major aquifers. Another high priority for collaborative work is to develop a process-level characterization of infrastructure alternatives for water withdrawal, transfers, and delivery and for alternative technologies for irrigation, thermoelectric power cooling systems, and municipal provision of water and related services at meso-level of detail that can be incorporated into an input-output model of an economy.

Human Machine Functionality: Failure Analysis and Augmented Repair
With: Ted Conway, Program Director, National Science Foundation
November 29, 2012 from 10:30 - 11:45 a.m in ICTAS 310

From an engineering prospective, mechanical failure can often be defined as any change in the size, shape or material properties of a structure that renders the functionality of that structure/machine incapable of acceptable performance. This failure can be caused by external forces, corrosion or wear. Similarly, electrical failure can result from soft errors, failure in time and electromigration. From a human-machine perspective, failure has been defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (and more recently by ADA Amendments Act of 2008) as “… a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities….” These ‘impairments’ are generally caused by trauma, degenerative disease or aging and are analogous to the mechanical and electrical failure modes. By approaching the field of bioengineering from a failure analysis perspective, new research paradigms can be generated in the areas of human-machine functionality, preventative maintenance, and augmented repair methodologies. This presentation will explore this emerging field of bioengineering and identify current activities that are funded by the National Science Foundation-General & Age Related Disabilities Engineering Program. Future areas of research related to human-machine failure analyses will also be discussed.

ARPA-E: Energy Innovation for the 21st Century
With: Eric Toone,Principal Deputy Director Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)
November 26, 2012 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m in ICTAS 310

In 2007, Congress created the Advanced Research Project – Energy with the America COMPETES Act. First funded under the Recovery Act of 2009, the Agency exists to support high-risk high-reward transformational technologies across the entire energy landscape. Over the last three years, the Agency has awarded over $750M to some 250 performance teams to advance technologies from laser drilling to power electronics, from natural gas storage to transgenic plants. In this talk we briefly review the history of the Agency and consider the means by which it operates by reviewing the Agency’s activities in the transportation sector, including liquid fuels, vehicle electrification, and natural gas storage.

Challenges and Opportunities in Water Resources Research and Education
With: George M. Hornberger, Distinguished Professor, Vanderbilt University
November 26, 2012 from 4:00 - 5:00 pm in Alumni Hall Auditorium, The Inn at Virginia Tech
Reception to follow: 5:00 - 6:00 pm, Latham Ballroom

The recent NRC report “Challenges and Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences” noted that research and education in water resources will be different in the future than today primarily because humans have become such a dominant part of the water cycle. This observation leads to several conclusions. In addition to important work in the many disciplinary areas that are part of water resources science and engineering, there is a need for interdisciplinary research that takes advantage of cutting edge technologies to grapple with the complex water related challenges of today and tomorrow. To solve today’s complex water problems, scientists, engineers, and water managers need disciplinary depth and intellectual breadth to bridge disciplines and the ability to communicate science to policy makers effectively. Multi-way interactions among scientists, engineers, water managers, and decision makers (termed “translational hydrologic science” in the NRC report) are needed to connect science and decision making more closely in order to address increasingly urgent water policy issues. I will discuss research and education challenges associated with these issues, in part using Vanderbilt’s ongoing work in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to provide context. I will pay special attention to the role and necessity of integrated, interdisciplinary research.

Co-sponsored by the College of Natural Resources and Environment and Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

What is Human-Centered Computing?
With: Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Senior Research Scientist, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
November 15, 2012 from 9:00 - 10:00 am in 310 ICTAS

The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) is a not-for-profit Research Institute of the State University System of Florida. Researchers at IHMC pioneer technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities. In our collaboration with Virginia Tech, IHMC is sharing its technology and expertise in the areas of building simulation, monitoring, visualization, management of security and building control policies, and human-centered performance enhancement. Among our most-acclaimed deployable modular concepts was the Small Pressurized Rover with integrated Hab, developed with NASA and Ideo as part of an IHMC Blue Sky study and later featured as the culminating vehicle in the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade. A current highlight of our human-centered building technologies efforts is our joint proposal with Autodesk Research to build resilient monitoring and response technologies into the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building (PSB), designed for net-zero performance. As a hub of the city’s critical infrastructure, the PSB will garner significant attention as a flagship for state-of-the-art building design and operations. Unlike the typical situation where comfort and energy efficiency degrade over time, the opportunity is presented to create a building whose performance continually gets better. Even more important, given the vital role of the PSB as an emergency response center, is the key requirement for resilient building response to threats and disturbances. In this talk, I will give an overview of selected areas of human-centered computing research currently underway at IHMC.

Emerging Technologies in Nuclear Science & Engineering – Development of novel techniques/tools using particle transport theory methodologies
With: Alireza Haghighat, Prof. of Nuclear Engineering, Virginia Tech
October 25, 2012 from 10:30 - 11:30am in 310 ICTAS

Prof. Haghighat will introduce the Nuclear Science and Engineering Lab (NSEL), and discuss NSEL’s efforts in addressing critical problems in power, safeguards and non-proliferation, medicine, and policy. Specifically, he will discuss the emerging technologies being developed in power, security and safeguards, and medicine with the use of particle transport methodologies. He will briefly introduce the audience to the main approaches used for solving particle transport problems, and examine their strengths and weaknesses. Prof. Haghighat will introduce the Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), and briefly discuss his group’s involvement in this area. Prof. Haghighat will elaborate on the development of advanced hybrid particle transport methodologies for safeguards of spent fuel pools and active interrogation of cargo containers. Further, he will discuss novel techniques being developed for eventual use for image reconstruction in the Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). Through above discussions, Prof. Haghighat will demonstrate that the use of various techniques and methodologies (e.g., Sn transport methods, adjoint transport theory, Monte Carlo methods, specially the fission matrix method, and the response function approaches) in the same problem can result in hybrid tools that yield accurate results in real time. These tools will contribute to effective use of nuclear science and engineering in solving major problems facing the mankind.

The Scientist and the Sailor
With: James Colvard, Consultant to the U.S. Naval Forces
October 9, 2012 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in 310 ICTAS

This talk will trace the associations of science and the Navy, including the history of the in-house labs, the UARCS and the FFRDCs. I will discuss the unique capability of each of the different type institutions and why they are important to the Navy. I will also discuss the current organizational arrangement within the Navy that oversees these institutions.

Biomimetic wideband sonar—not emulation using DSP, rethinking analog computation
With: James Simmons, Dept. of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI
October 8, 2012 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in 310 ICTAS

Echolocating bats can detect, localize, and classify targets—all technologically-desirable capabilities inherent in the use of wideband sonar signals, while also flying rapidly through complex surroundings and avoiding collisions with obstacles. The novelty is their ability to suppress interference from surrounding clutter without losing the ability to follow the flow of objects moving past on the left and right. This is a critical capability because guidance of movement is another desirable function of sonar, and clutter actually constitutes the bulk of most sonar scenes. The conventional solution involves narrow sonar beaming and range-gating to prevent formation or reception of echoes from off to the sides or from the wrong target distances. Scanning of the surroundings with a narrow beam is only feasible of there is plenty of time, however. Echolocating bats fly at several meters per second—too fast for scanning to be effective. They have evolved a very different solution whose discovery involves in-depth experimental and computational analysis of the entire process of forming and displaying perceptual images, using biosonar as a model system for addressing basic questions in cognitive and systems neuroscience. Knowing that bats emit FM sounds suggests pulse compression, knowing that the bat’s inner ear segregates the FM sweeps into parallel frequency channels suggests a time-frequency version of matched filtering, and knowing that neuronal spiking occurs in the bat’s auditory system suggests a point-process instantaneous-frequency representation, but these do not add up to a technological advance because the system uses arithmetic that is entirely unfamiliar. The bat’s sonar receiver exploits a peculiarity of the auditory time-frequency representation: it transposes changes in signal amplitude at individual frequencies into changes in the timing of the neuronal spikes that register instantaneous frequency. (This effect is called amplitude-latency trading.) As a consequence, making estimates of echo parameters initially represented by amplitude values at different frequencies is converted into detecting timing disparities across frequencies. In the bat’s processing scheme, making comparisons of analog time across frequencies and across time is the basis for the entire sonar imaging process. This kind of arithmetic is not comparable to familiar analog computation which operates on numerical amplitude values, and it is not digital computation. The only part of the bat’s receiver that resembles the digital regime is the act of comparing analog times, which replaces cumbersome multiple-bit digital multiplication. Trying to design biomimetic sonar raises the prospect of a type of neuromorphic computer that excels at sensory imaging and motor control in real time.

Spatial spread of the 1918 influenza pandemic: from data retrieval to application
With: Rosalind Eggo, University of Texas at Austin
September 13, 2012 from 4:00 - 5:00 pm in 310 ICTAS

In the influenza pandemic of 1918, a novel pathogen spread through a (likely) immunologically naive population, with few effective interventions against its advance. For the first time in history accurate records of its progress were documented, thus providing material for a greater understanding of pandemic spread, but finding the appropriate data for epidemiological analysis is critical. I describe our study, where we collate a new US dataset of mortality records that covers more cities and a greater time period than those analyzed before. We use these data, (and similar records from England and Wales,) to fit a spatial model describing the links between cities. A gravity model assumes that the strength of interaction between two cities is proportional to their population sizes. We further develop the structure of gravity models to incorporate the density of surrounding towns, and and the extent of the epidemic in those towns. Using the best fitting model from our analysis we infer the most likely transmission tree for the 1918 pandemic and describe how the characteristics of spread change as the epidemic progresses. I frame our results in the context of recent pandemic spread.

Multi-Scale Biological Building Blocks and their Applications
With: Rajesh Naik, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
August 14, 2012 from 10:30 am in 310 ICTAS(video simulcast)

Increasing our knowledge about natural/biological materials and processes creates new opportunities in developing new classes of materials, processes and devices that perform similar functions to the biological system. While significant progress has been made, the potential future impact is only possible through the continued understanding of the underlying biological system and the utilization of these concepts to create complex materials, sensors and devices. Biological systems exemplify the utilization of highly specific recognition processes with a diverse set of building blocks for the synthesis and assembly of precisely defined (bio)materials. Consequently, these specialized biological processes and components are appealing for synthesis and as templates for creating hierarchically assembled structures and materials. In this talk I will highlight how biological building blocks, across multiple length scales, can be used create materials for electronics, sensing and structural applications. Additionally, I will also cover some recent work on the use of biopolymers for effective entrapment and stabilization of enzymes.

Spring/Summer 2012 (Click to Expand)

What is Human-Centered Computing?
With: Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Senior Research Scientist, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
June 15, 2012 from 3:00 - 4:00 pm in Cowgill Hall, Room 202, VT Campus

The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) is a not-for-profit Research Institute of the State University System of Florida. Researchers at IHMC pioneer technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities. In our collaboration with Virginia Tech, IHMC is sharing its technology and expertise in the areas of building simulation, monitoring, visualization, management of security and building control policies, and human-centered performance enhancement. Among our most-acclaimed deployable modular concepts was the Small Pressurized Rover with integrated Hab, developed with NASA and Ideo as part of an IHMC Blue Sky study and later featured as the culminating vehicle in the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade. A current highlight of our human-centered building technologies efforts is our joint proposal with Autodesk Research to build resilient monitoring and response technologies into the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building (PSB), designed for net-zero performance. As a hub of the city’s critical infrastructure, the PSB will garner significant attention as a flagship for state-of-the-art building design and operations. Unlike the typical situation where comfort and energy efficiency degrade over time, the opportunity is presented to create a building whose performance continually gets better. Even more important, given the vital role of the PSB as an emergency response center, is the key requirement for resilient building response to threats and disturbances. In this talk, I will give an overview of selected areas of human-centered computing research currently underway at IHMC.

Design and Fabrication of Cellulose-Based Nanomaterials
With: Tetsuo Kondo and Shingo Yokota, Department of Agriculture and Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences, Kyusho University
June 8, 2012 from 1:00 - 2:30 pm in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

Dr. Tetsuo Kondo is a professor in Kyushui University’s Department of Agriculture and its Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences. Dr. Kondo holds two Ph.D.s--one in wood chemistry from The University of Tokyo and one in polymer physical chemistry from Kyoto University. Dr. Kondo’s research interest is bioalchemy, including nanomaterial design, polymer physicochemistry, and carbohydrate polymer chemistry. He has contributed extensively to both polymer physical chemistry and polysaccharide chemistry through basic and applied research in which cellulose was his main subject. His research interest has extended to the supermolecular architecture of cellulose in native and artificial systems. He has employed wood cell wall cellulose to investigate beta-glucan association in native systems using physicochemical approaches such as microscopic FT-IR, and in situ atomic force microscopy. He also has developed his own techniques in using these analytical tools for polysaccharides polymer. Recently, he has established a new form of cellulose named Nematic Ordered Cellulose which exhibits noncrystalline yet ordered states. More recently, the above NOC template concept with nanobuilding blocks provided by ACC was extended to various nanopatterned templates including honeycomb-patterned cellulose films to establish a hierarchical organizing design for 3-D nano/micro architecture of biobased materials using his original "bioalchemy."


Dr. Shingo Yokota is an assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture and in the Graduate School of Bioresource and Bioenvironmental Sciences at Kyushu University. He earned his Ph.D. in 2007 in agriculture science at Kyushu University where he has been an assistant professor since 2010. Dr. Yokota’s research interests focus on surface modification of biobased nanomaterials. One topic of his research is the surface modification of cellulose nanofibers in an aqueous system. Using only a pair of water jets, Dr. Yokota has prepared cellulose nanofibers from wood cellulose by the aqueous counter collision (ACC) method that allows nanopulverization by selective cleavage of intermolecular interactions. The ACC-treated cellulose nanofibers were acetylated with acetic anhydride using sulfuric acid as a catalyst in an acetic acid system, while the cellulose I crystal structure remained almost unchanged. Moreover, the acetylated nanofibers were homogeneously dispersed in water, indicating that the surface was partially acetylated to prevent interaction between the nanofibers in an aqueous medium. His other target was “nematic ordered cellulose” (NOC) prepared by uniaxial stretching of water-swollen cellulose. The above surface modifications of nano-sized and structured objects derived from cellulose could possibly open a new phase in the functional design of cellulose-based materials.

21st Century Medical Diagnosis and Treatment: How the Convergence of Nanotech and Biotech is Changing the Way We View Disease
With: Tim Harper, serial entrepreneur and investor in emerging technologies
May 31, 2012 from 10:30 - 11:30 am in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

Medicine has historically progressed in large steps rather than small linear increments; from Paracelsus’ realisation that chemical remedies could cure illness, to the understanding of the pathologic basis of disease and the discovery of antibiotics. The convergence of life sciences and nanotechnologies has the potential to be the greatest leap forward yet, driven by the understanding of how nature works on the nanoscale, and underpinned by information technology which allows us to acquire and process large amounts of data. Technology is advancing on all fronts, from point of care diagnostics with the potential to be cheap enough to make mass screening and early detection of disease possible, through to highly targeted therapeutics with drugs being delivered and released only where needed. With innovation drying up in ‘big pharma’, opportunities abound for start ups in nanomedicine, but progress to market can be slow, with technical and regulatory hurdles favouring some applications over others. Finally, with early detection of disease turning many previously fatal conditions into chronic ones, can governments and health care providers use technology to lower healthcare costs, while dealing with the consequences of increasing lifespans?

VT Corporate Research Center
New River Valley Economic Development Alliance
Montgomery County Department of Economic Development

Changing Research Priorities In Nanoscale Science And Engineering
With: Mike Roco, Senior Advisor, National Science Foundation and National Nanotechnology Initiative
April 26, 2012 from 9:30 - 11:00 am in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

Twenty years is the estimated time scale to develop nanotechnology from basic interdisciplinary concepts in 2000 to create a general purpose technology with mass and sustainable use by 2020. The current research context is defined by the outcomes in the last ten years, what has worked and has not, and most importantly how we prepare now for the future (see “Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020”, NSF/WTEC report, Springer 2011, www.wtec.org/nano2). The research priorities in science and engineering are changing to better measure and simulate at the atomic level with femtosecond precision, understand simultaneous phenomena at the nanoscale, engineer nanosystems with increased complexity and dynamic behavior, better integrate with other fields of knowledge and technology, and create fundamentally new processes and products for industry, medicine, sustainability and quality of life.

Academia-based Translational Research and Industry Collaboration
With: Salim Shah, Chief Scientist, Office of Operations and Planning Georgetown University
April 25, 2012 from 10:00 - 11:30 am in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

A recent analysis by the Center for Medicines Research found that the failure rate for drugs in Phase II and III clinical trials has been rising and that the success rate for drugs in Phase II is dismally low. These failures are further accentuated by the finding that more than 50% of academia-published results are not reproducible and often fail in clinical drug development. Conversely, treatment for disease such as for neurological disorders and cancer has not changed for decades, and the demand for newer technologies, targets, and drugs is greater than ever. To solve these problems, academia-industry relationships have emerged as a “rescuer-in-chief,” and institutions like ICTAS and the newly formed center at the National Institutes of Health--the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)--are perfectly poised to make a difference and to shift the current paradigm to newer models where research and discovery become a joint effort between laboratory investigations and market demands. Dr. Shah’s seminar will provide a comparative analysis of the current practices of academia and of the differing roles that industry plays. In addition, the seminar will offer suggestions for recasting this relationship to reduce attrition rates in technology development. The seminar will also highlight the fundamental elements of an academia-industry relationship that are unique yet complement each other.

Co-sponsored by VTIP.

Biorefinery - A Sustainable Molecular Design Platform for Soft Materials
With: George John, Department of Chemistry, The City College of the City University of New York
April 20, 2012 from 1:00 - 2:30 pm in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

In future research, developing materials, fuels and energy devices from renewable resources would be fascinating yet demanding practice, which will have a direct impact on industrial applications, and economically viable alternatives. This talk presents a novel and emerging concept of generating new chemicals, intermediates and products in a ‘Biorefinery’. Our continuous efforts in this area led us to develop new glycolipids from industrial byproducts such as cashew-nut-shell-liquid, which upon self-assembly produced nanoarchitectures including lipid nanotubes, twisted/helical nanofibers, low-molecular-weight gels and liquid crystals. More recently, we have developed multiple systems based on biobased organic synthesis by chemical/ biocatalytic methods for functional applications. We used the ‘chiral pool’ of carbohydrates using the selectivity of enzyme catalysis yield amphiphilic products from biobased feedstock including amygdalin, trehalose and vitamin-C. Amygdalin amphiphiles showed unique gelation behaviour in a broad range of solvents such as non-polar hexanes to polar aqueous solutions. Importantly, an enzyme-triggered drug-delivery model for hydrophobic drugs was demonstrated by using these supramolecularly assembled hydrogels. Intriguingly, by combining biocatalysis, with principles of green and supramolecular chemistry, we developed building blocks-to-assembled materials. These results will lead to efficient molecular design of supramolecular architectures and soft materials from underutilized plant/crop-based renewable feedstock. Part of the Renewable Materials Frontiers in Bioscience Speaker Series

Polymer Membranes for Energy and Environmental Applications Involving Gas and Water Purification
With: enny Freeman, Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
April 19, 2012 from 3:00 - 4:30 pm in CTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

Polymer membranes will be critically important in addressing urgent global needs in the 21st century for reliable, sustainable, efficient access to clean energy and clean water. This presentation will focus on recent advances and applications of polymer membranes for gas separations and water purification, particularly on fundamental structure/property relations important in developing membranes with improved properties. For water purification, this presentation highlights results from a systematic study, carried out over several years in collaboration with Professor Jim McGrath at Virginia Tech, of desalination properties of a new family of highly chlorine tolerant, sulfonated polysulfones. The fundamentals of ion and water transport in these (and related) materials will be discussed. In gas separations, this presentation will discuss structural features important in the use of polymers as rate-controlling membranes for gas separations. First, materials having desirable combinations of high permeability and high selectivity based upon solubility selectivity (e.g., butane removal from natural gas, CO2 separation from H2 or N2) will be presented. Second, polymers can also be tailored to achieve high permeability and high selectivity based upon high diffusivity selectivity. In both cases, materials with high permeability and high selectivity may be prepared.

Interfacial Structure, Dynamics, and Transport in Polyelectrolyte Membrane Materials for Fuel Cells
With: Kirt Page, Polymers Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD
April 13, 2012 from 2:00 - 3:30 pm in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

Fuel cells based on polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) show promise as a means of energy conversion for a wide range of applications both in the transportation sector and for stationary power production due to their high charge density and low operating temperatures. Devices are assembled with multiple heterogeneous materials and failure, or performance losses, can largely occur at the interfaces between these materials. While the structure and transport of bulk PEMs for fuel cell applications have been studied extensively, there has been little effort focused on these materials at interfaces and under confinement as they exist within the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) of a working PEM fuel cell. Using a combination of neutron and x-ray reflectivity, grazing-incidence small-angle x-ray scattering (GISAXS), quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), as well as polarization-modulation infrared reflection-absorption spectroscopy (PM-IRRAS) we have studied the polymer-substrate interfacial structure, the swelling, and water transport behaviour as a function of humidity, surface chemistry, and initial film thickness (< 220 nm). We have found the interfacial structure to be highly dependent upon the substrate surface chemistry. Moreover, when the polyelectrolyte is confined to thin films there is suppression in both swelling and water diffusivity. Specifically, we observe that the relative humidity-dependent, equilibrium swelling ratio and volumetric water fraction is constant for films above 100 nm. A clear transition in the swelling response, absorbed water content, and the diffusivity (as determined from the time-dependent PM-IRRAS signal) is observed for films thinner than 60 nm. It is speculated that these confinement affects should have an impact on the proton conductivity and overall fuel cell performance. Our studies clearly show that the behaviour of the materials under confinement can be quite different than in the bulk. Current fuel cell modelling efforts rely on bulk property values, when considering the catalyst layers and interfaces, to predict structure, transport and fuel cell performance. With this new information, researchers will be able to more accurately model the performance of the MEA within a working fuel cell which could lead to improvements in MEA design and more efficient operating conditions.

New materials from polysaccharides – from the synthesis to applications
With: Thomas Heinze, Centre of Excellence for Polysaccharide Research, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Macromolecular Chemistry, University of Jena
March 23, 2012 from 9:00 - 10:30 am in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

Polysaccharides are fascinating polymers with structural diversity and functional versatility and they are the most important renewable resource. In contrast to the complete degradation to so-called biofuels and organic building blocks, the chemical modification of the intact polymer backbone is the most promising path to take full advantage of polysaccharides. Chemical modification reactions at the hydroxyl groups and at the C-atoms under different conditions (solvents, reagents) will be discussed. Regioselective modification, introduction of unconventional functions like dendrons, and alternative synthesis paths like Click chemistry allow designing the properties towards a broad variety of highly-engineered polymers based on polysaccharides. Thus, the results discussed open new avenues both to improve present application and to establish novel application fields for polysaccharides. Attention will be paid also to polysaccharide derivatives forming nanostructures. Part of the Renewable Materials Frontiers in Bioscience Speaker Series

Silicone Materials for Sustainable Energy: Emphasis on Photovoltaic Materials for Module Assembly and Installation
With: Ann Norris, Dow Corning Corporation
March 15, 2012 from 3:00 - 4:30 pm in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

The Photovoltaic (PV) industry has aggressive goals to decrease $/kWh and lower the overall cost of ownership; these goals are critical for the broad adoption of PV globally. Silicone polymers possess key material properties that make them excellent candidates for photovoltaic module encapsulants and other materials for module assembly and installation that will help achieve these goals. These properties include UV stability, high optical transparency, excellent corrosion resistance, low moisture retention, wide temperature use range, and excellent electrical properties. This work will show why silicones offer improvements, over organic polymer photovoltaic encapsulants, of (1) increased photovoltaic module efficiency due to higher transparency at short wavelengths, and (2) improved long-term reliability. Actual array data comparing silicones to EVA encapsulated modules will be compared and results from accelerated aging will be discussed.

Fish robotics: understanding the diversity of fishes using mechanical devices
With: George V. Lauder, Henry Bryant Bigelow Professor, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
February 28, 2012 from 10-11:30 am in ICTAS building on Stanger Street, Room 310

There are over 28,000 species of fishes, and a key feature of this remarkable evolutionary diversity is the variety of propulsive systems used by fishes for swimming in the aquatic environment. Fishes have numerous control surfaces which act to transfer momentum to the surrounding fluid. In this presentation I will discuss the results of recent experimental kinematic and hydrodynamic studies of fish locomotor function, and the implications for construction of robotic models of fishes. Recent high-resolution video analyses of fish fin movements during locomotion show that fins undergo much greater deformations than previously suspected and fish fins possess an clever active surface control mechanism. Fish body and fin motion results in the formation of vortex rings of various conformations, and quantification of vortex rings shed into the wake by freely-swimming fishes has proven to be useful for understanding the mechanisms of propulsion. Experimental analyses of propulsion in freely-swimming fishes have led to the development of a variety of self-propelling robotic models. Data from these devices will be presented and discussed in terms of the utility of using robotic models for understanding fish locomotor dynamics, and for studying the function of specialized fish surface structures like shark skin. Co-sponsored by the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech.

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(540) 231-2597