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Advanced Lithium-Sulfur Battery Technology

Profs. Cengiz and Mihrimah Ozkan from the University of California, Riverside have developed multiple improvements to lithium-sulfur battery technology to increase their viability in commercial applications. These methods include the suppression of the shuttle effect via a magnetron sputtered titanium dioxide thin film, silicon and carbon nanocomposite spheres to enhance electrochemical performance, and a methodology for conditioning Li-S cells. With improvements like these, Li-S batteries may succeed lithium-ion cells because of their theoretically longer battery life and larger storage capacity that is ideal for devices like electric vehicles and handheld electronics. Fig 1: Schematic of enhanced Li-S battery anode material.  

Silicon Nanocrystals for Photon Up/ Down-Conversion

Profs. Ming Lee Tang and Lorenzo Mangolini from the University of California, Riverside have developed a method for synthesizing chemically functionalized non-toxic silicon nanocrystals. This technology works by producing silicon NCs with non-thermal plasma synthesis which are then functionalized with triplet acceptors to produce photon upconversion systems. This technology stands out among other NC-based triplet-fusion upconversion systems because when incorporated into aqueous micelles, this system functions indefinitely under anaerobic conditions and for tens of minutes upon exposure to oxygen. Fig. 1 Schematic of the aqueous photon upconverting micelles.  

Sterilization of Face Masks and Respirators

Prof. Lorenzo Mangolini and his colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed an efficient and low-cost method to sterilize face masks and respirators with ozone. This novel design uses a flow through configuration where the ozone gas is directly flown through the fibers of the FPRs. The parts needed for construction of this system are widely available and small enough for the device to be easily portable. This approach can readily adapted for low-cost and simple sterilization of different FPRs to allow for them to be safely reused.  Fig 1: Picture of the dielectric barrier discharge reactor used in the mask sterilization experiments.

Real-Time Imaging in Low Light Conditions

Prof. Luat Vuong and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a method for imaging in low light and low signal-to-noise conditions. This technology works by using a dense neural network to reconstruct an object from intensity-only data and efficiently solves the inverse mapping problem without performing iterations with each image and without deep learning schemes. This network operates without learned stereotypes with low computational complexity, low reconstruction latency, decreased power consumption, and robust resistance to disturbances compared to current imaging technologies. Fig 1: Theoretical/simulation accuracy for multi-vortex arrays - 3,5,7 correspondingly using the dense single layer neural net, in comparison to convolutional NN and a single layer NN using conventional imaging. The SNR is provided for the conventional imaging scheme.  

A Novel Catalyst for Aqueous Chlorate Reduction with High Activity, Salt Resistance, and Stability

Prof. Jinyong Liu’s lab at UCR has developed a novel heterogeneous catalyst for aqueous ClO3− reduction. The catalyst contains earth-abundant molybdenum (Mo) and is 55-fold more active than palladium on carbon (Pd/C). Under 1 atm H2 and room temperature, the bimetallic catalyst (MoOx−Pd/C) enables rapid and complete reduction of ClO3− in a wide concentration range (e.g., 1 μM to 1 M) and exhibits strong resistance to concentrate salts such as chloride, sulfate, and bromide at 1 to 5 M. In a batch reactor setup, the catalyst was reused for twenty cycles of 0.18 M ClO3− reduction and no activity loss was observed. Fig. 1 shows the effect of concentrated salts on the reduction of 1 mM ClO3− by the MoOx-Pd/C catalyst at a loading of 0.2 g/L. The reactions were conducted at 25 oC and under 1 atm H2. Fig. 2 shows the reduction of 1 M ClO3− in DI water and the treatment of a synthetic chlor-alkali waste brine sample (0.17 M of ClO3− in 3.6 M of NaCl) by 0.5 g/L MoOx-Pd/C.   Fig. 3 shows the profiles of the reduction of 0.18M ClO3− spikes in a multiple-spike reaction series. The decrease of activity was only caused by the gradual build-up of concentrated Cl− (see details in the publication).  

Targeted Delivery of Pesticides and Fertilizers in Plants

Prof. Juan Pablo Giraldo and his colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a method for targeted nanoparticle delivery and tracking in plants. Engineered nanomaterial (ENM) platforms that bypass biological barriers in plants such as cell walls, membranes, and organelle envelopes for in vivo traceable and targeted delivery of chemicals to organelles (e.g. chloroplasts) and tissues using guiding peptide recognition motifs.  The use of these targeted platforms result in the reduction of pesticides and fertilizers. Fig 1: Confocal microscopy images of chloroplasts in leaf mesophyll cells (purple) containing targeted nanoparticles and their cargoes (green). Chemicals such as paraquat was precisely delivered to chloroplasts by nanoparticles conjugated with targeting peptides.

Device for Edema Reduction Following Spinal Cord Injury

Prof. Victor Rodgers and his colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a method for effectively treating excess swelling from fluid, or edema, following a spinal cord injury. Following severe contusion to the spinal cord, edema accumulates and compresses the tissue against the surrounding dura mater. It is believed that this compression results in restricted flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and ultimately collapses local vasculature, exacerbating ischemia and secondary injury. This technology includes a surgically mounted osmotic transport device (OTD) that rests on the dura and can osmotically remove excess fluid at the injury site to reduce secondary injury. Fig 1: | Effects of OTD treatment on % water content after severe SCI. Percent (%) water content calculated SCI only, SCI + hydrogel (HG), and SCI + OTD following treatment. The figure shows a statistical reduction in % water content in tissue following OTD treatment  

Low Cost and Simple Microfluidic Placer Method

Professor Brisk’s research group at the University of California, Riverside, has developed Directed Placement, a new method for the placement and routing of microelectronics and very large scale integration (mVLSI) devices. Most microfluidic devices have a naturally directed structure: fluid is injected into the device via designated input ports, flows through the devices for process, and exits the device via designated output ports. The use of lanes and a straightforward left-to-right placement scheme yields layouts that are easier for designers to understand and modify, even at large scales. This technology allows researchers to produce their own microfluidics devices through a simple and low cost directed placement method. Fig. 1 shows a microfluidic device layout designed and laid-out by the UCR software.