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TcSUH In The News

A Wearable Device So Thin and Soft You Won’t Even Notice It

August 02, 2019
A Wearable Device So Thin and Soft You Won’t Even Notice It
Cunjiang Yu

Wearable human-machine interfaces – devices that can collect and store important health information about the wearer, among other uses – have benefited from advances in electronics, materials and mechanical designs. But current models still can be bulky and uncomfortable, and they can’t always handle multiple functions at one time. Researchers reported Friday, Aug. 2, the discovery of a multifunctional ultra-thin wearable electronic device that is imperceptible to the wearer. The device allows the wearer to move naturally and is less noticeable than wearing a Band-Aid, said Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston and lead author for the paper, published as the cover story in Science Advances. “Everything is very thin, just a few microns thick,” said Yu, who also is a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. “You will not be able to feel it.”

For more information, read the original news release.


Apollo 17 Lunar Soil Sample Still Surprises After 50 Years: University of Houston Student Discovers Unexpected Mineral

July 27, 2019
Apollo 17 Lunar Soil Sample Still Surprises After 50 Years: University of Houston Student Discovers Unexpected Mineral
Dr. Jim Meen

Apollo 17 Lunar Soil Sample Still Surprises After 50 Years: University of Houston Student Discovers Unexpected Mineral

For more information, read the original news release.


High thermoelectric cooling performance of n-type Mg3Bi2-based materials

July 18, 2019
High thermoelectric cooling performance of n-type Mg3Bi2-based materials
Prof. Zhifeng Ren, Dr. Jun Mao and colleagues

Thermoelectric materials have a large Peltier effect, making them attractive materials for solid-state cooling applications. Bi2Te3-based alloys have remained as the state-of-the-art room temperature materials for many decades. However, cost partially limited wider use of thermoelectric cooling devices because of the large amounts of expensive tellurium. We report n-type Mg3Bi2-based materials with a peak ZT of ~0.9 at 350 K, which is comparable to the commercial Bi2Te3-xSex, but much cheaper. A cooling device made of our material and p-type Bi0.5Sb1.5Te3 has produced a large temperature difference of ~91 K at the hot-side temperature of 350 K. The n-type Mg3Bi2-based materials are promising for thermoelectric cooling applications.

For more information, read the original news release.


Researchers Report New Understanding of Thermoelectric Materials

June 21, 2019
Researchers Report New Understanding of Thermoelectric Materials
Dr. Zhifeng Ren and postdocs

The promise of thermoelectric materials as a source of clean energy has driven the search for materials that can efficiently produce substantial amounts of power from waste heat. Researchers reported a major step forward Friday, publishing in Science Advances the discovery of a new explanation for asymmetrical thermoelectric performance, the phenomenon that occurs when a material that is highly efficient in a form which carries a positive charge is far less efficient in the form which carries a negative charge, or vice versa. Zhifeng Ren, M. D. Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at the University of Houston, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH and corresponding author on the paper, said they have developed a model to explain the previously unaddressed disparity in performance between the two types of formulations. They then applied the model to predict promising new materials to generate power using waste heat from power plants and other sources.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Engineer’s Battery Research Gets New Charge With Additional DOE Funding

May 22, 2019
UH Engineer’s Battery Research Gets New Charge With Additional DOE Funding
Yan Yao

Yan Yao’s “Battery500” Award Selected for Phase II. A quest for better batteries has led the U.S. Department of Energy to invest an additional $800,000 in Yan Yao’s research project titled “High-Energy Solid-State Lithium Batteries with Organic Cathode Materials.” Yao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, was one of 15 principal investigators whose seedling projects – focused on cutting-edge battery research – were funded through the DOE’s Battery500 Consortium. Each seedling awardee received $400,000 in 2017. After an 18-month initial phase, the 10 most promising projects were selected to move into the second round of research time – another two years – and received additional funding. This brings the total funding for the project to $1.2 million.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Engineering Doctoral Student Publishes In Nano Energy

May 15, 2019
UH Engineering Doctoral Student Publishes In Nano Energy
Jie Chen

Wearable electronics – from smartwatches to fitness trackers – are not just trendy and fashionable accessories, but an integral part of many people’s lives. People use these devices to log the number of steps taken, monitor heart rates and sleep patterns, count calories and more. The demand for wearable devices has spurred advances, such as more compact designs and more complex activity tracking (broken down into different sports), which require more efficient power storage. Traditional batteries can’t meet customer’s expectations of smaller devices and longer run times between chargings. As a result, researchers are working to identify or create alternate power supplies. Jie Chen, a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, recently tackled the issue in an article published in the prestigious Nano Energy journal.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Students and Alumni Earn Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

April 30, 2019
UH Students and Alumni Earn Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
Audrey Wang

Six current and former University of Houston students have earned highly coveted National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate research fellowships. The fellowships recognize outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees. Addendum: Audrey Wang, one of the six awardees, graduated in May with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. Her research focused on using high performance computing to investigate structure-function relationships in solid-state electrolytes for applications in solid-state batteries. Wang declined the NSF award and joined the automation company ABB which operates in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation technology. Wang was an undergraduate student in the department of electrical and computer engineering whose advisor was Yan Yao. She won Third Prize in the recent 56th TcSUH Annual Student Research Symposium for her presentation on An Ab Initio Investigation of Structure-Function Relationships in Solid-State Electrolytes.

For more information, read the original news release.


Researchers Report High Performance Solid-State Sodium-Ion Battery

April 19, 2019
Researchers Report High Performance Solid-State Sodium-Ion Battery
Yan Yao

Solid-state sodium-ion batteries are far safer than conventional lithium-ion batteries, which pose a risk of fire and explosions, but their performance has been too weak to offset the safety advantages. Researchers Friday reported developing an organic cathode that dramatically improves both stability and energy density. Yan Yao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston and corresponding author of the paper, said the organic cathode – known as PTO, for pyrene-4,5,9,10-tetraone – offers unique advantages over previous inorganic cathodes. But he said the underlying principles are equally significant. “We found for the first time that the resistive interface that forms between the cathode and the electrolyte can be reversed,” Yao said. “That can contribute to stability and longer cycle life.” Yao also is a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. His research group focuses on green and sustainable organic materials for energy generation and storage.

For more information, read the original news release.