Research News Highlight

ME Chairman and Student Publish Paper on World's Thinnest Piezoelectric Material in Nature Communications

Pradeep Sharma and Matthew Zelisko

There are a handful of naturally occurring materials, known as piezoelectric materials, which generate electricity if you bend, stretch, or apply another mechanical force to them, and vice versa – if you apply a voltage across them, they’ll deform accordingly. These materials are currently the subject of intense research for their potential applications in energy harvesting, artificial muscles and sensors, among others.

Chemical Engineering Researcher Makes Device Fabrication Easier, Thanks to NSF Grant

Gila Stein

Have you ever wondered how the tiny components and devices inside of your cell phone are made?

The devices inside of your phone and computer – like the integrated circuits, microprocessors and memory chips – are made in a process called lithography (which, in Greek, translates quite literally to “writing on stones”).

UH Chemical Engineering Faculty Wins Department of Energy Early Career Award

Lars Grabow

Researchers across the world are looking into various sources of sustainable feedstock for energy and chemicals production with the hope that these cleaner sources will dramatically reduce our need for petroleum-based feedstock and lower our carbon footprint in the future.  One such renewable energy source is biomass derived from naturally-occurring raw materials such as wood and agricultural waste, which can be converted to biofuels and biochemicals.

Researchers Win $700k Grant to Develop Pipeline Safety System

Cullen College researchers are developing a low-cost system that can send out warnings when an excavator is digging to close to a pipeline.

Damage to natural gas pipelines is both dangerous and expensive to repair. Much of it is also entirely avoidable.

Excavators cause about 30 percent of pipeline damage incidents. In most of these events, the team working the excavator hadn’t bothered to find out if a natural gas pipeline is nearby before digging, even though there’s a national hotline set up to provide this information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Diagnosing Diseases With Smart Phones

LEFT: The system being developed by Cullen College Researchers diagnoses disease by blocking holes with pathogens and some other connected material, in this case silver particles, preventing light from shining through. RIGHT: A close-up of nanoholes blocked by these particles.

Smart phones are capable of giving us directions when we’re lost, sending photos and videos to our friends in mere seconds, and even helping us find the best burger joint in a three-mile radius. But thanks to UH Cullen College of Engineering researchers, smart phones may soon be boasting another very important function: diagnosing diseases in real time.

Researchers Exploring Treatment for Lupus-Based Kidney Disease

A healthy human kidney (above) and a kidney from a lupus nephritis patient (below), which shows the disease's classic "flea bitten" look.

Chandra Mohan has a theory about the development of lupus nephritis, the leading cause of lupus-related deaths. If he’s right, there may already be a treatment.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can attack practically any part of the body. In lupus nephritis, it causes severe kidney inflammation, leading to hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of hospitalizations per year in the United State alone.

Research Grant Targeting “Holy Grail” of Catalysis

Lars Grabow

Lars Grabow has been given a $750,000 grant to solve a multi-billion dollar problem.

Methane, the majority component of natural gas, is cheap and plentiful, thanks in large part to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Ideally, it could be converted into rarer and far more valuable chemicals like methanol, ethane or ethylene, all of which have dozens of uses, many involving the creation of plastics and polymers.

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