San Diego, CA, April 12, 2010 -- The annual Jacobs School Research Expo features research posters by 250 M.S. and Ph.D. engineering students, technical breakouts led by Jacobs School faculty, a plenary session, and a reception where guests can interact with faculty and students who share their research interests.
A sampling of graduate student engineering projects being presented at Jacobs School Research Expo 2010 is below. Learn more at: http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/re/
New Material: Strong and Tough
|Glowing yellow during fabrication, the new composite material will be both strong and tough.|
NanoEngineers have created a new class of materials that are both incredibly strong and tough — an attribute combination that has traditionally been difficult to find in the same material. The new structural materials, which could find their way into aerospace and biomedical applications, are lighter than steel and twice as strong. The materials withstand high stress without permanent deformation; and when they do deform, they bend before they break. The materials are relatively inexpensive because they are made from materials already used in titanium alloys. NanoEngineering Ph.D. Hesham Khalifa, working in NanoEngineering Department Chair, Professor Kenneth Vecchio’s research group, helped create the new one-step process for fabricating these “bulk metallic glass composite materials.” The materials were formulated on the computer, using modeling approaches to properly design nanoscale atomic clusters. A next step in the research is to begin customizing bulk metallic glass composites with tailored properties. One possibility: a metallic material with stiffness that begins to approach that of human bone and could be used in bone-implant technologies of the future.
Fighting Pediatric Heart Disease Via Computer Simulations
Kawasaki disease (KD) is a serious pediatric illness affecting the cardiovascular system. One of the most serious complications of KD, occurring in about 25 percent of untreated cases, is the formation of large aneurysms in the coronary arteries, which put patients at risk for myocardial infarction. KD is often misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed at all until it’s too late for treatment. Currently, there are very few guidelines to help clinicians decide a course of treatment for KD. Jacobs School students and faculty have developed computational simulations that are expected to aid pediatricians in treating this disease. In particular, the students, led by mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Dibyendu Sengupta, have developed patient specific computational simulations of blood flow in aneurysmal left and right coronary arteries of a KD patient as part of a larger study to gain an understanding about aneurysm hemodynamics in KD patients.
|Computational simulation expected to aid pediatric doctors in treating Kawasaki disease, a serious pediatric illness.|
Lightweight Composite Bridge for Military and Emergency Applications
Structural engineering grad student Katherine LaZansky with preliminary prototype of carbon fiber bridge for the U.S. military.
“After we test the bridge we will be able to tell how well the aluminum joints perform when integrated into a full-size structure,” said Katharine LaZansky, a structural engineering grad student who is leading the project. These types of composite bridges, which have been under development at UC San Diego for the past several years, are corrosion resistant and lighter and stronger than current metallic bridges, she said. “One of the advantages of this composite bridge is the U.S. military can potentially build it in the field,” LaZansky said. “You can fly an oven out that is 20 feet long and have aluminum molds and lay out carbon fiber fabrics. This can save time, space and money.” Structural engineering grad student Katherine LaZansky with preliminary prototype of carbon fiber bridge for the U.S. military.
Hard Core Gaming with Smartphones
Electrical engineers simulated game playing on mobile networks in order to develop and test their cloud-based approach to 3D gaming on smartphones.
Wireless Heart & Brain Sensors
An ECE graduate student developed new non-contact wireless health monitoring sensors.
“There are a lot of people working in this area, but being able to build everything on a single chip makes it much more robust and affordable,” Chi said. Beyond medical uses, the devices open up new engineering and science opportunities in mobile brain imaging of subjects freely moving in natural and virtual environments. Projects using this technology are currently underway in Calit2’s StarCAVE, a five-sided virtual reality room; and for the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Institute for Neural Computation.
Diagnostic Systems for Cars
Computer science Ph.D. students Massimiliano Menarini and Filippo Seracini are analyzing automotive diagnostics with an eye toward improving them. The modern car is a heterogeneous system made up of components from many different suppliers, and implementation of the diagnostic system is often treated as a byproduct of the software implementation. Menarini and Seracini are part of a team looking to remedy this situation. Their service-oriented software architecture approach, which offers solutions for integrating heterogeneous systems, is already being used in disaster response and environmental monitoring projects. One challenge: deploying just enough computer code to identify and report all failures to the driver — while still enabling repair centers to connect testing equipment to the vehicle and identify all details of the failure.
Treat Acne with Coconut Oil and Nano-Bombs
Ph.D. student Dissaya “Nu” Pornpattananangkul is developing a smart system of drug delivery. Watch a related video on the Jacobs School blog.
Solar Concentrator Design
The new solar concentrator design (right) collects sunlight with thousands of small lenses imprinted on a common sheet. All these lenses couple into a flat “waveguide” which funnels light to a single photovoltaic cell. Older system designs (left) require many photovoltaic cells which each need to be aligned and electrically connected.
A new solar concentrator designed by electrical engineering Ph.D. student Jason Karp cuts the number of required photovoltaic cells and could lead to less expensive and more environmentally friendly solar installations. Existing high-efficiency solar cells incorporate optics to focus the sun hundreds of times and can deliver twice the power of rigid solar panels. But these systems typically use arrays of individual lenses that focus directly onto independent photovoltaic cells which all need to be aligned and electrically connected. In contrast, the new solar concentrator collects sunlight with thousands of small lenses imprinted on a common sheet. All these lenses couple into a flat “waveguide” which funnels light to a single photovoltaic cell. The engineers from the Photonic Systems Integration Laboratory built a working prototype with just two primary optical components, thus reducing materials, alignment and assembly. This solar concentrator is compatible with high-volume, low-cost manufacturing.
Engineering students are using several cutting edge tools such as a total sky imager to determine the efficiency of solar power.
Under the direction of environmental engineering professor Jan Kleissl, the students are using advanced tools and instruments that have already been deployed around campus, including advanced wireless weather station networks; a ceilometer, which measures cloud height and density; and a total sky imager, which tracks cloud movement.
“The biggest problem now is that solar is a variable energy source,” said mechanical engineering grad student Anders Nottrott. “To operate the U.S energy grid efficiently, utilities have to predict demand, i.e. how much power people are going to consume. For supply, traditional power sources produce a consistent output so they can plan a few hours ahead. In the future, for regions like Southern California where photovoltaics are becoming an increasing part of the energy grid, we have to figure out how to mitigate the unpredictability of solar panels through forecasting.”
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