Researchers in UNT’s Institute for Science and Engineering Simulation use modeling and simulation to determine what causes jet engine failure and to evaluate materials at the molecular level to design more robust airplane parts for the U.S. Air Force. The project is funded by about $8.5 million from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
Non-stick frying pans:
Witold Brostow, Regents Professor of materials science and engineering, is working to develop a new, stronger and safer non-stick surface for frying pans to replace the current technology that can potentially emit a suspected carcinogen. Brostow says as everyone who has ever created scrambled eggs knows, current frying pan coatings also have “hopeless scratch resistance.” New nanohybrids under development have high wear and scratch resistance as well as low friction.
Countless soldiers can tell stories of subsisting on MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat. Unfortunately, the environmental impact is substantial, with the rations producing 14,000 tons of packaging waste each year. Nandika D’Souza, associate professor of materials science and engineering, is working with the military to make MRE packaging more environmentally friendly. She is developing materials that will take less than a month to decompose instead of the four centuries traditional petroleum-based plastics require.
The toughest part of using any medication is remembering when to take it and how much to take. That’s why Zhibing Hu, Regents Professor of physics, is developing a gel with microscopic particles that do all the work for you. Using hydrogels — water-based, gelatin-like polymers that can be programmed to expand and contract in reaction to temperature — Hu has created a self-regulating delivery system for medicine. He is working to develop biodegradable hydrogel devices that can be implanted to medicate an illness. Once the device has completed its task, it can be broken down and absorbed by the body.
A new light:
Researchers are rethinking a 130-year-old standby of modern technology: the light bulb. UNT’s Mohammad Omary, professor of chemistry, with Nigel Shepherd, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and Bruce Gnade, UT-Dallas vice president for research, are pioneering innovative research in the field of organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, an emerging technology that will revolutionize lighting. OLEDs require far less energy to produce and operate than incandescent lights, which would lead to billions of dollars in savings and reductions in carbon emissions. Omary is working with U.S. and Japanese lighting and display companies on commercialization aspects of the UNT technology.
Researchers at UNT are studying how gold nanoparticles can be used to kill cancer cells from inside a tumor. The approach involves attaching the particles directly to the cancer cells, then beaming a certain light on them in the tumor. Their absorption of the near infrared light can generate sufficient heat to kill cancer cells. The Omary group invented a synthetic technique for toxin-free nanoparticles (patent pending) and works with Robby Petros, assistant professor of chemistry, and Pudur “Jag”Jagadeeswaran, professor of biological sciences, on biological attachment of these non-toxic particles to cancer cells and on model studies.
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