Bridging the gap between such technologies is the research efforts of Murali M. Sundaram, PhD, Director of UC’s Micro and Nano Manufacturing Laboratory and School of Dynamic Systems assistant professor. Sundaram’s lab is engaged in an effort to find a nano-equivalent to common machining techniques like drilling or grinding. He, his students and fellow researchers are currently working on a vibration assisted nano-abrasive machining process to machine a wide range of materials with ultra-precision accuracy. So while the UC Micro and Nano Manufacturing Research Laboratory and Nanoworld are developing innovative methods at microscopic sizes, Sundaram works to move them into real-world applications.
Applying nano and other "small-space" technologies to everyday life is one of the many specialties of Andrew Steckl, PhD and School of Electronics and Computing Systems professor. The electrical engineering professor recently debuted his and UC doctoral student Duk Young Kim’s breakthrough of the low-cost, disposable e-reader. Steckl and Kim demonstrated that paper could be used as a flexible host material for an electrowetting device. Electrowetting (EW) involves applying an electric field to colored droplets within a display in order to reveal content such as type, photographs and video.
“Nothing looks better than paper for reading,” said Steckl. “We hope to have something that would actually look like paper but behave like a computer monitor in terms of its ability to store information. We would have something that is very cheap, very fast, full-color and at the end of the day or the end of the week, you could pitch it into the trash.”
Steckl’s business partner, close colleague and former student, Jason Heikenfeld, is also leading UC in the realm of nano and other "small-spaces." Heikenfeld, PhD, Director of the UC Novel Devices Laboratory and School of Electronics and Computing Systems associate professor, advances on Steckl and Kim’s e-reader research with his development of electrofluidic optics. He is combining liquids with light and UC’s electrofluidic display technology is the first to electrically enhance the appearance of pigments or colors to a level of visual brilliance equal to conventional printed materials.
UC co-sponsors a Nanotechnology Materials and Devices (NMD) Workshop each year which presents recent findings in nanotechnology from around the world. There is no registration fee and it educates students about nanotechnology. The workshop was held in Dayton this year. The Nanoworld web site contains information about UC nanotechnology research and conference information (www.min.uc.edu/nanoworldsmart/conferences). Other labs at CEAS also work in the area of nanotechnology, these nanoengineering labs are listed at (www.ceas.uc.edu/research.html).
Thomas Mantei, PhD and CEAS professor, and F. James Boerio, PhD and CEAS director of the School of Engineering Education, developed undergraduate courses which teach the fundamentals of nanoscale materials synthesis, processing, and basic design for different applications. There are also graduate courses in nanotechnology. Please visit http://onestop.uc.edu/ for a complete listing of courses.
Upon reflection of UC’s journey—not to mention its various “firsts”—into nanospace, Schulz adds, “Persistence and patience is what spurs innovation. Through nanotechnology, UC is trailblazing and road-mapping innovation, translating discoveries to industry, and training a next generation workforce that will be in high demand.“