Archive for 'Research'

How waste wood works for forests

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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At first glance, they may look lush and green, but many of the nation’s forests also are chock-full of brush—often, invasive species and disease-transmitting biomass—just waiting for a spark. “One of the reasons wildfires are so catastrophic is that many forests are unhealthy and there’s a lot of excess biomass in the forest,” says Joseph [...]

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Centers work for state business and industry

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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The Wisconsin Idea was created as a way to keep the benefits of UW-Madison education from being an isolated island of knowledge and technological advances. In 2013, the Center for Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) and the UW E-Business Consortium (UWEBC)—two of the biggest bridges connecting university research and Wisconsin industries—are celebrating anniversaries. For the past [...]

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Laying the groundwork for safer air aid

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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It’s 1 a.m. and heavy fog cover has caused a terrible accident on the Interstate. A highly trained medical team climbs aboard the medevac chopper and a highly trained pilot flies the team to the scene. The problem, heading into a potentially life-threatening situation, is that these teams train in isolation and often have competing [...]

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Her response: Increase the ‘reward’ in high-risk scenarios

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Industrial and Systems Engineering Associate Professor Laura McLay’s research canvas is massive data—banks of millions of emergency 911 calls, commercial airline flights and ship cargo deliveries—which she uses to tease out the risk factors in these high-stakes endeavors. As a data challenge, it might seem like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack, but [...]

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Stiff, strong and stable composites

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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It was a sweltering day on Long Island, and young Rod Lakes and his family were stuck in the middle of a traffic jam. Up the road, there was a drawbridge. Its two halves had expanded due to the heat and, instead of closing properly, the pieces overlapped. Though at the time Lakes didn’t realize [...]

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From helix to donut

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Understanding how a Pegasus plasma forms Because the UW-Madison experiment Pegasus is among the world’s most compact tokamaks, the device plays a unique role in global efforts to develop fusion as a viable energy source. In particular, Pegasus—a very-low-aspect-ratio tokamak that has a small center hole and nearly spherical shape—serves as a testbed for plasma [...]

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In Wisconsin, cold-spray knowledge is a hot commodity

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Back in the mid-1980s, Fisher Barton founder Richard Wilkey (BSMetE ’59) was looking for coatings to extend the life of the lawnmower blades his Wisconsin-based company manufactured. For help, he looked to Frank Worzala, then a professor of metallurgical and mineral engineering, and Worzala’s master’s student Bill Lenling (BSMetE ‘84, MSMetE ‘86), who was seeking [...]

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Closing the loop on big data … one beer at a time

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Computers serve as powerful tools for categorizing, displaying and searching data, but they’re only the medium for big data. “We really need people to interact with the machines to make them work well,” says McFarland-Bascom Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Rob Nowak. Unlike machines, people work at a finite speed and at rising costs. [...]

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A control theorist crashes the market

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor B. Ross Barmish hopes his current National Science Foundation-funded research will build a bridge between control theorists and financial scholars. Barmish starts with notions that defy the predictive statistical approach by which financial scholars tend to swear. “Instead of using statistics and saying, ‘Well, something worked in the past,’ I [...]

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A ‘smart’ move for electronics

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Honking cars, flashing lights, clicking keyboards. We face a daily bombardment of noises, sights and smells that the thalamus—a relay center for sensory data flowing into the brain—sorts into useful information. That frees up our frontal lobe to ruminate on the important questions … like which coffee shop to visit. However, most electronic devices aren’t [...]

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For building owners, IPD is A-OK

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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In America,” says Tom Boldt, “we revel in low price.” It’s true, particularly in tough economic times. We’re a nation of cost- and value-conscious consumers seeking to get the biggest bang for our buck. However, in many situations, the lowest price doesn’t automatically guarantee a high-quality product or a high level of customer satisfaction. Take, [...]

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Innovation lifts limits of landfill liners

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Generally made from bentonite clay sandwiched between textile or membrane layers, geosynthetic clay liners are the “gold standard” for preventing industrial, hazardous and municipal solid wastes from seeping into the environment. Such liners are particularly effective barriers, because as the clay absorbs water, it swells and the pore spaces between its particles shrink. Yet, even [...]

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Quicker, quake-proof skyscrapers

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Peel back the outer layers of a skyscraper built in an area vulnerable to earthquakes and you’ll find a tangle of steel-reinforced concrete beams that span doors, windows and other openings in the structure’s many supporting walls. Those coupling beams play a critical role in helping a skyscraper withstand the effects of an earthquake. Yet, [...]

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It’s a collaboration with chemistry

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Dow Chemical invests in university talent and technology In an effort to strengthen disciplines that align with its strategic goals, Dow Chemical Company has invested $14.5 million over five years in research at UW-Madison. Part of a broader funding program Dow launched in 2011 at 11 universities, the initiative combines expertise in engineering and chemistry [...]

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Growing the suite of bio-based chemicals

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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When Steenbock and Michel Boudart Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering James Dumesic looks at a dried corn stalk, he sees the energy embedded within it. For years, Dumesic and his colleagues have made major contributions to the science and process of converting plant waste into transportation fuel. And while renewable fuels historically have been [...]

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For Platypus Technologies, liquid crystals fit the bill

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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In 1999, researchers in New York City identified the first case of West Nile virus, which over the next five years spread across the country. Infected mosquitoes transmit the virus into reptiles, amphibians, and some mammals—including humans—and into more than 100 species of birds, which “host” the virus. At the time, identifying the disease in [...]

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Technology helps humans and horses

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Biomedical Engineering Professor Ray Vanderby always thought there was more information in an ultrasound signal than people were using. Vanderby and his students specialize in tissue healing and regeneration in musculo-skeletal tissues—and they can use all the information about damaged tissue they can get. That’s where ultrasound can be an added benefit. “If we’re only [...]

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Fighting disease by re-creating it

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Like many good lab discoveries, this one came about by accident. While trying to engineer healthy heart valves, Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Kristyn Masters was discouraged that cells her student was culturing were forming nasty-looking nodules. These nodules can be present in disease and made the sample cells impossible to use for their intended purpose. [...]

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Light reflects risk of cancer

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Seated at the intersection of an academic department and two research institutes, Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Jeremy Rogers finds himself in what he calls a perfect opportunity. A co-investigator in the UW-Madison Laboratory for Optical and Computational Instrumentation (LOCI) and a member of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, Rogers welcomes the highs that come from [...]

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Materials innovator Padma Gopalan: Bringing nature’s complexity to polymer synthesis

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Associate professor, materials science and engineering Director, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center Padma Gopalan’s research focuses on designing, synthesizing and characterizing new types of polymers with the ability to self-assemble into a wide range of useful nanostructures. Yet one of her favorite nanostructures comes not from the lab but from nature, on the wings of [...]

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Q&A with materials innovator Dane Morgan

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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  Associate professor, materials science and engineering and engineering physics Co-Director, Wisconsin Materials Institute Talk about your research. What, simply, do you study? I use computational modeling to understand and predict materials properties for a wide range of applications. By solving the fundamental quantum mechanical equations that describe atomic interactions, I can predict how atoms [...]

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Q&A with materials innovator Luke Mawst

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Professor, electrical and computer engineering Co-founder, Alfalight / Co-founder, Intraband Talk about your research. What, simply, do you study? The main thrust of my research is really looking at new semiconductor compounds and the application of these compounds into optoelectronic devices. Most people are familiar with the most common semiconductor material, silicon. But there’s a [...]

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On becoming an engine of materials research innovation

Posted on 27. Sep, 2013 by .

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Materials play such a foundational role in advancing civilization that they are essentially the shorthand of human history, as defined by the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. While those three distinct eras span millions of years, the modern materials challenge will be defined by accelerating the pace of innovation. The White House Materials [...]

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Applying aquatic chemistry to solve our water quality problems

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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Guest columnist Christina Remucal is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. She joined the college in August 2012. Water is one of life’s necessities. Growing up in the high desert of northern New Mexico gave me a deep appreciation for the preciousness of water. My family has its own groundwater well and, thankfully, [...]

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It ain’t easy being green: Freshmen researchers tackle tough project

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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The 14 freshmen had almost no background in engineering—nor had they  conducted any research. Yet by the end of their first semester at UW-Madison, they had completed a seemingly daunting project: Coat a small diesel engine with a platinum catalyst, add extra hydrogen to the combustion process, and determine if those changes reduced vehicle emissions. [...]

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Virtual internship, real engineering

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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Applying the role-playing and problem-solving conventions often employed in video games, a computer simulation called Nephrotex enables engineering undergrads to assume the role of biomedical engineering interns working at a fictional company, giving them an early peek at what it’s like to apply math and science skills to a real-world problem. “It’s about learning to [...]

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With 400th PhD grad, UW-Madison celebrates half a century of fusion energy

Posted on 02. May, 2013 by .

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In the 1930s and ‘40s, many researchers studied ways to use fusion, the reaction in which atomic nuclei collide, fuse and release energy, to develop atomic weapons. Later, researchers would begin to focus on beneficial applications of fusion, including developing plants that would produce electrical energy for society. Noted physicist Don Kerst was among those [...]

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Our global footprint

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by .

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Bob Lorenz walks eagerly to a favorite spot—a wall of photos of faculty, staff and students associated with Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC)—in the Mechanical Engineering Building. Among those photos are the faces of international students and visiting scholars, and Lorenz traces invisible lines between himself, former students who have returned as [...]

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Advanced manufacturing research conference in Madison, June 10-14, 2013

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by .

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The largest manufacturing research gathering in the Americas will take place June 10-14, 2013, at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison. The event will draw nearly 500 international academic and industrial leaders to two conferences: the 41st North American Manufacturing Research Conference, sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the 2013 [...]

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In static friction, chemistry is key to stronger bonds

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by .

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Inspired by phenomena common to both earthquakes and atomic force microscopy, UW-Madison materials engineers have learned that chemical reactions between two silicon dioxide surfaces cause the bonds at that interface to “age,” or strengthen gradually over time. In researchers’ understanding of static friction, it’s an advance with staying power. “What happens is that when you [...]

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