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News Releases from 2020


Diamonds, Pencils Inspire Scientists to Create Multipurpose Protein Tool

Researchers created protein crystals that generate surprising electrical charge that could be useful for various new materials applications. Full Story


Nanoengineering and chemical engineering at UC San Diego in the spotlight

A creative group of faculty, students and staff within the University of California San Diego are taking innovative approaches to develop breakthroughs in nanomedicine, flexible electronics, and energy storage. Together, this group makes up the Department of NanoEngineering and the Chemical Engineering Program at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. A virtual issue of the journal ACS Nano highlights the wide ranging research, educational and workforce-development contributions of this extraordinary group.  Full Story


Engineer Earns Presidential Award for Improving Underrepresented Student Access to STEM Experiences

Olivia Graeve, a UC San Diego professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the White House. The award was created in 1995 to honor extraordinary individuals whose efforts have helped provide underrepresented groups with access to opportunities in STEM. Full Story


$18M Boost to Materials Science Research at UC San Diego

The National Science Foundation has awarded University of California San Diego researchers a six-year $18 million grant to fund a new Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).These research centers are transformative for the schools that earn them, putting their materials science research efforts into the global spotlight. In addition to research and facilities funding, MRSEC centers provide sustained research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students, and resources to focus on diversifying the pool of students studying materials science.The UC San Diego labs funded by this new MRSEC will focus on two important, emerging approaches to build new materials aimed at improving human lives. Full Story


UC San Diego NanoEngineers to lead MRSEC research thrust on Predictive Assembly

In some ways, the field of materials science is where the pharmaceutical sciences were twenty years ago. A team of University of California San Diego researchers is working to change that. The team makes up the "predictive assembly" research thrust of the new $18M Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Today, computational and predictive tools are used in the pharmaceutical industry in order to design "small molecule" drugs with particular properties and behaviors. The challenge is that the design-before-you-synthesize approach hasn't worked for the larger-scale materials that are critical for many applications beyond small-molecule drugs. That's the work that will be done by the team led by nanoengineering professors Andrea Tao and Tod Pascal from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Full Story


UC San Diego NanoEngineers to lead MRSEC research thrust on Living Materials

University of California San Diego researchers are using the tools of the biotechnology revolution—in particular, genetic engineering and synthetic biology—to build new classes of materials with novel kinds of abilities. Materials that can repair themselves are just one example of the applications of the "living materials" research thrust that is a key component of the new $18M Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The team's big idea is to incorporate living organisms, either from plants or microbes, into their new materials. Living organisms have evolved over billions of years to perform complex functions and to sense the environment around them. Synthetic materials still lag far behind what biological systems can accomplish. The UC San Diego researchers are asking: why not use biology to program materials? Full Story


Marrying molecular farming and advanced manufacturing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine

UC San Diego nanoengineers received a Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant from the National Science Foundation to develop—using a plant virus—a stable, easy to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine patch that can be shipped around the world and painlessly self-administered by patients. Full Story


3D printed corals provide more fertile ground for algae growth

Researchers have 3D printed coral-inspired structures that are capable of growing dense populations of microscopic algae. The work could lead to the development of compact, more efficient bioreactors for producing algae-based biofuels, as well as new techniques to repair and restore coral reefs. Full Story


UC San Diego battery pioneer Shirley Meng earns Faraday Medal from Royal Society of Chemistry

Congratulations to UC San Diego nanoengineering professor Shirley Meng, who has earned the 2020 Faraday Medal from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Meng is a leader in materials characterization and synthesis, including development of novel battery technologies that are driving a low-carbon, more sustainable future.    Full Story


Pathways toward realizing the promise of all-solid-state batteries

UC San Diego nanoengineers offer a research roadmap describing four challenges that need to be addressed in order to advance a promising class of batteries, all-solid-state batteries, to commercialization. The researchers describe their work to tackle these challenges over the past three years. Full Story


'Spillway' for electrons could keep lithium metal batteries from catching fire

UC San Diego nanoengineers developed a safety feature that prevents lithium metal batteries from rapidly overheating and catching fire in case of an internal short circuit. The clever tweak does not prevent battery failure, but rather provides advance warning of failure and makes it much safer. Full Story


Light-shrinking device enables detection of ultra-tiny substances

Engineers at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley have created light-based technology that can detect biological substances with a molecular mass more than two orders of magnitude smaller than previously possible. The research could lead to the development of ultra-sensitive devices that can quickly detect pathogens in human blood and considerably reduce the time needed for patients to get results from blood tests. Full Story