Protege Undergraduate Research Archives

2019 Protege Research Symposium

Summer Protégé Engineering students showcase their work at a poster session.

Emeritus Professor James Boerio making opening remarks at the 2019 Protege Symposium.

2023 Undergraduate Research Topics

2023 Research Topics
Department Research Area Mentor  
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics Gas Dynamics and Propulsion Laboratory (Multiple Projects) Ephraim J. Gutmark  
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics
Fuzzy Logic-based Explainable AI Kelly Cohen  
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics
Aerospace Lab (Multiple Projects) Daniel Cuppoletti  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Developing Inexpensive and Portable Molecular Diagnostics Tools for DNA Analysis Aashish Priye  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Tissue-Engineered Biomaterials for Nervous System Injury Greg Harris  
Biomedical Engineering Injectable, Drug-coated Microparticles for Regenerating Bone Tissue John Martin  
Electrical & Computer Engineering Testing Software Features with Requirements Knowledge Nan Niu  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Metabolomic Analysis of Butanol Production Under Stress Maobing Tu  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Long-term dose-controllable drug delivery Yoonjee Park  
Mechanical & Materials Engineering Micro & Nano Lab (Multiple Projects) Murali Sundaram  
Mechanical & Materials Engineering Fly a Drone Like a Kite Manish Kumar  
Electrical & Computer Engineering
Microelectronics and Integrated-Systems with Neuro-centric Devices (MIND) Lab (Multiple Projects) Rashmi Jha  
Electrical & Computer Engineering MEMS and Autonomous Integrated Microsystems Laboratory Tao Li  
Electrical & Computer Engineering; Physics Superconducting Nanoelectronics with Perovskite Oxides Marc Cahay & Evgeny Mikheev  
Mechanical & Materials Engineering Design of Alloys for the Hydrogen Economy Eric Payton  
Biomedical Engineering Nebulized ECM Rescue Device (NERD) for Prehospital Use Greg Dion  
Biomedical Engineering Wearable Health Sensors (Multiple Projects) Orlando Hoilett  
Biomedical Engineering Effect of extracellular matrix composition on brain tumor resistance in a bioprinted glioblastoma model Riccardo Barrile  
Computer Science Data Science to Analyze Biomedical Images (Multiple Projects) Vikram Ravindra  

2022 Undergraduate Research Topics

2022 Research Topics
Department Research Area Mentor  
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics Gas Dynamics and Propulsion Laboratory (Multiple Projects) Ephraim J. Gutmark  
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics
Fuzzy Logic based Flight Control of a Drone Kelly Cohen  
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics
Aeroacoustics of Electrically Propelled Air Vehicles (Multiple Projects) Daniel Cuppoletti  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Non-Contact Heating via Magnetic Eddy Current Heat Dissipation Aashish Priye  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering
Tissue-Engineered Biomaterials for Nervous System Injury Greg Harris  
Biomedical Engineering Injectable, calcium-scavenging hydrogels to prevent premature bone fusion John Martin  
Biomedical Engineering Investigating the interactions of mechanical forces and hormones on ECM synthesis Stacey Schutte  
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Testing Software Features with Requirements Knowledge Nan Niu  
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Learning Wing Motions in a Flapping-Wing Air Vehicle John C. Gallagher  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Innovative ways for removing PFAS in the environment Maobing Tu  
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Long-term dose-controllable drug delivery Yoonjee Park  
Mechanical & Materials Engineering Micro & Nano Lab (Multiple Projects) Murali Sundaram  
Mechanical & Materials Engineering Telehealth Drones Manish Kumar  
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Microelectronics and Integrated-Systems with Neuro-centric Devices (MIND) Lab (Multiple Projects) Rashmi Jha  
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science MEMS and Autonomous Integrated Microsystems Laboratory (Multiple Projects) Tao Li  

2021 Undergraduate Research Topics

2021 Research topics.
Department Research Area Mentor
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics Aeroacoustics of Electrically Propelled Air Verhicles (4 projects) Daniel Cuppoletti
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics
Gas Dynamics and Propulsion Laboratory (GDPL) (8 projects) Ephraim Gutmark
Biomedical Engineering
Engineering a Glioblastoma-on-Chip to Decipher the Contribution of Blood-Tumor-Barrier in Chemoresistance Riccardo Barrile
Biomedical Engineering Investigating the Mechanisms behind Elastin Synthesis Stacey Schutte
Biomedical Engineering Developing an Innervated Skin Model Stacey Schutte
Biomedical Engineering Injectable, cell-degradable scaffolds for bone tissue engineering John Martin
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Tissue-Engineered Biomaterials as a Solution to Peripheral Nervous System Injury Greg Harris
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Replicating DNA in micro-sized convection cells Aashish Priye
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Waste to Energy: Biofuels Production from Cellulosic Biomass Maobing Tu
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Simulation and Improvement of a Flapping-Wing Micro Air Vehicle John Gallagher
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Microelectronics and Integrated-Systems with Neuro-centric Devices (MIND) Lab (2 projects) Rashmi Jha
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Learning Environmental Assumptions via Natural Language Processing (NLP) Nan Niu
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Microfluidic Devices with High Resolution and Aspect Ratio for Neural Circuitry Modeling (2 projects)  Tao Li
Mechanical and Materials Engineering Micro and Nano Lab (4 projects)  Murali Sundaram

2020 Undergraduate Research Topics

2020 Undergraduate Research Topics
Department Research Area Mentor
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics Aeroacoustics of Electrically Propelled Air Verhicles Daniel Cuppoletti
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics Advanced High-Speed Imaging Techniques for Future Propulsion Applications Daniel Cuppoletti
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics Active Flow Control for Aircraft Maneuvering and Control Daniel Cuppoletti
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Real-time Aquatic Vertebrate Biosensor David Wendell
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Waste to Energy: Biofuels Production from Cellulosic Biomass Maobing Tu
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Obfuscation Framework for Computer Hardware Design Marty Emmert
Mechanical & Materials Engineering The Role of Microstructure on the Sensitization Response of 5XXX Series Aluminum Alloys Matt Steiner
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Engineering Biomaterials to Direct Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Greg Harris
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Pinball AI and Mechatronics Zach Fuchs
Mechanical & Materials Engineering
Onboard Sense-and-Avoid (SAA) for small Unmanned Aerial Systems Manish Kumar
Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics
Gas Dynamics and Propulsion Laboratory (GDPL) (8) Projects Ephraim Gutmark
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Assessing Quality Attributes of Deep Learning Applications Nan Niu
Biomedical Engineering Bioengineering a Blood-Brain-Barrier on-Chip to Investigate the Effect of Mechanical Shear Stress on Metastatic Invasion of the Brain Riccardo Barrile
Biomedical Engineering 3D Bio-Printing of a Human Blood-Brain-Barrier-on-Chip for Modelling of Stroke Riccardo Barrile
Mechanical and Material Engineering Non-traditional Method of Resin Reinforced Fiber Composite Machining Murali Sundaram
Mechanical and Material Engineering
Scaling up of Electrochemical Additive Manufacturing Murali Sundaram
Mechanical and Material Engineering Machining Non-Conductive Ceramics Using Pulse Electric Current Murali Sundaram
Mechanical and Material Engineering Wire EDM Murali Sundaram
Mechanical and Material Engineering Nanoscale Electrochemical Additive Manufacturing Murali Sundaram
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Microelectronics and Integrated-Systems with Neuro-centric Devices (MIND) Lab Rashmi Jha
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Controlling Drug Release  Yoonjee Park
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Micromachined Chemical Sensor for Harsh Environments & Wireless Magnetoelastic Sensors for Implantable Biomedical Applications Tao Li
Chemical & Environmental Engineering Replicating DNA in micro-sized convection cells Aashish Priye

Recent Research Archives

Other Archived Research Topics

Mark G. Turner
Professor, Aerospace Engineering Dept

An airfoil, compressor, fan and turbine design code has been developed at UC and made open source. Using analysis methods and optimization approaches, improved designs have been developed. A new airfoil developed this way for a wind turbine is shown in Fig. 1. Fig. 2 shows the fan geometry for a new electric propulsion application. This project will be to work with the geometry generator integrated with the optimization system to produce optimized blades for specified applications. In addition, the geometry generator has been integrated with an open source CAD package ESP developed at MIT and Syracuse University. It allows coupling with a lot of analysis software. The application of this tool will be developed further.

Mark G. Turner Professor
Aerospace Engineering Dept

The most common decelerator is a parachute. It is used for returning space capsules, mars missions, plane safety devices, paratroopers, and humanitarian air drops. The maple seed is nature’s perfect decelerator. See the figure below showing streamlines in the relative frame from a simulation of the maple seed using CFD by a UC MS student. A provisional patent has been issued for the ideas and further development is required. Funding for marketing of this device and some further prototype parts are available based on past protégé students’ presentations to the UC Commercialization office. It turns out that many aspects of a maple seed help improve its role to descend slowly. The protégé project will be:

  • To test new concepts for uncontrolled designs and compare to models 
  • To further develop a controlled decelerator
  • To integrate with concepts such as package delivery and rocket return

Greg M. Harris, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering

Peripheral nerve injuries impact 1.4 million Americans each year with over 20 million people living with the effects of traumatic nerve injuries. In severe peripheral nerve injuries, nerve pathways, connections, and the extracellular matrix that lead to sensory or motor targets are disrupted. If the injury gap is over approximately 2 centimeters, functional recovery is extremely limited. This deeply impacts subsequent quality of life due to the loss of connections between the central nervous system and the body’s extremities. One primary reason for poor functional recoveries is that neurons do not have the proper guidance and signaling from the damaged extracellular matrix to allow targeted growth across the injured tissue. This project will address the urgent need to engineer bioactive materials to guide nerve regeneration to promote functional recoveries in traumatic nerve injuries. This will be accomplished by engineering polymers to possess the proper physical and chemical signals in order to direct cell and extracellular matrix alignment and growth. We will micropattern polymers to give alignment and combine the micropatterned polymers with a natural, extracellular matrix to facilitate regeneration and guidance of nerve. It is hypothesized that a bioactive, aligned polymer will functionally bridge the injury gap and guide neurons along scaffolds to restore function to the injured tissue. 

Professor Maobing Tu
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Developing alternative biofuels from renewable biomass has great potential to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil while improving national energy security and addressing the environmental issues. The Renewable Fuel Standard mandates 36 billion gallons of biofuels should be produced annually by 2022, with 16 billion gallons coming from lignocellulosic biomass. Although ethanol has been the main candidate of transportation biofuels, butanol has several advantages over ethanol including low vapor pressure and tolerance to water contamination. Butanol is one of the promising advanced biofuels being pursued by the DOE, NSF and USDA for the next generation of alternative fuels. However, one of the major bottlenecks impeding production of viable biofuels from renewable biomass is the lack of cost-effective processes for converting biomass into biofuels including butanol. 

Biomass pretreatment is needed to break down the recalcitrant structure of the plant cell wall for subsequent enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation. However, the pretreatment processes generate inhibitors from the degradation of cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin and extractives, many of which significantly reduce the microbial growth and fermentation productivity during the fermentation process. Detoxification or conditioning methods are required to reduce the toxicity of hydrolysates for biofuels fermentation, but they increase the total production cost significantly. Progress has been made in the identification of hydrolysates inhibitors. However, the compounds identified to date cannot account for the inhibition level in real biomass hydrolysates and the most potent inhibitors remain elusive. Therefore, there is a critical need to better understand the chemistry of biomass-derived inhibitors with new approaches in the bioconversion processes. The protégé students will work on biomass pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis and butanol fermentation. 

Dr. Lee
Chemical & Environmental Engineering

Project 1: Catalytic Elemental Mercury Oxidation

The U.S. EPA’s new final rule, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, requires coal- and oil-fired power plants to use maximum available control technology to strictly regulate the emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants by more than 90% effective in 2016. Among elemental, oxidized, and particulate-bound mercury species present in flue gas, elemental mercury vapor is most difficult to control because of its low concentrations, low reactivity, and low solubility in water. Elemental mercury vapor has a long residence time in the atmosphere, and thus contributes to global-scale deposition. Dr. Lee’s research group is studying detailed reaction mechanisms and kinetics responsible for the catalytic oxidation of elemental mercury vapor. He is also investigating the reaction and adsorption characteristics of elemental mercury vapor for a chemical adsorbent. A Protégé student will work with a PhD student on mechanistic and kinetic studies of elemental mercury over the catalysts.

Project 2: Energy-Efficient and Thermally Stable CO2 Adsorbent for Post-Combustion CO2 Capture

Post-combustion process in coal-fired power plants releases dilute carbon dioxide stream which is a major cause for increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. As an increase in human activities, the CO2 concentration in atmosphere has reached 404 ppm in February 2016 that is reported to exceed a safe upper limit (350 ppm). This creates an expeditious need for suitable carbon capture and separation technology from existing coal-fired power plants. The flue gas from post combustion process consists of 10-16%(v) CO2. Conventional post-combustion CO2 capture processes using physical or chemical solvents require high regeneration energy of 3-4 MJ per kg of CO2 captured, thereby increasing an operating cost of the absorption process. Dr. Lee’s lab is studying CO2 adsorption process requiring very low adsorption and desorption energy requirements. 

Project 3: Targeted and Controlled Gene and Drug Delivery for Cancer Therapeutics

The development of nano-scaled carriers as a drug delivery platform has made a tremendous difference in the fight against cancer. Significant progresses have been made in improving linker stability, biocompatibility, and biodegradability of a delivery system, targeting, and drug potency. Among many challenges, metastasis and multi-drug resistance phenomena still remain major challenges that limit the technological development of effective nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems. To address these technical challenges, Dr. Lee’s lab is developing a new class of smart gene and drug delivery systems with synergistic effect to target tumor and metastatic cancer cells. This novel nanoparticle-based delivery system has a few notable features of targeting to specific cells and sequential release of dual drugs for maximum efficacy. This new nanoparticle design can significantly reduce toxic side effects of conventional drugs used in chemotherapy by using ~100 times less amount of the conventional drugs.


Prof. Jingjie Wu
Chemical Engineering
(513) 556-2756
593 ERC

The electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into liquid fuels is a technology to recycle carbon while also storing intermittent renewable energy (e.g. wind and solar) into chemical energy (Figure 1). The advancement of this technology is currently limited by the lack of 1) efficient and stable catalysts, and 2) operative electrode architecture for solid-state electrochemical cell employment. The traditional metal catalysts require high overpotential (low energy efficiency) for the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction (eCO2RR) due to the “linear scaling relationship” between reaction intermediates adsorption energy. More importantly they are deficient in C-C coupling to produce ethanol (C2H5OH). Additionally, they face a serious durability issue. The current electrochemical cell for eCO2RR includes a buffer layer through which liquid neutral or alkaline electrolyte flows.1 The involvement of liquid electrolyte not only results in large Ohmic loss but also causes extra cost in modular assembly.

This project dedicates to achieve direct eCO2RR to produce C2H5OH in a solid-state electrolyzer by realizing the following objectives: 1) develop carbon materials based catalysts through nanoscale design of topological structure; 2) maximize the triple-phase interface boundary in the catalyst layer by percolating theory; 3) design and manufacture a continuous flow solid-state electrolyze prototype by 3D printing. The refined electrochemical system targets eCO2RR into C2H5OH with a Faradaic efficiency (FE) of 90%, energy efficiency of 50%, current density 600 mA/cm2 , and 1000 h stability. The students will be involved in a multidisciplinary team to learn: catalysis, nanomaterials, 3D printing, and mass transport simulation by COMSOl. 

Dr. Rashmi Jha, Associate Professor

Primary Research Areas:

  • Emerging Logic and Memory Devices beyond CMOS: Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) devices serve as the backbone of all processors and memory technologies. The continued scaling of CMOS devices, well known as Moore’s Law of Scaling, has instigated all major innovations in the areas of computing and data storage in the last few decades. The versatility of CMOS devices have also served as a launch pad for several new technologies ranging from smartphones, notebooks, tablets, and high performance computing, to MEMs technologies, and point of care devices. It is fascinating that CMOS devices today are as small as just 22 nm in gate length and semiconductor industry has roadmap for few mores generations of scaling the size of the transistor to around 5 nm by the year 2020. However, conventional scaling of Silicon based CMOS devices will approach fundamental limits and new technologies are needed to meet the computational demands of the future applications. My research group is focusing on emerging Logic and Memory devices that can address these bottlenecks. In particular, we are investigating transition metal oxide (TMO) based Resistive Random Access Memory (ReRAM) devices for high density data storage and in-memory computing architectures.
  • Neuromorphic Devices and Computing: Albert Einstein famously said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. A biological brain is an excellent computing machine. While today’s digital computers are extremely good at general purpose computing, they fail when it comes to solving a subjective computing problems. For example, a human brain can easily make decisions based on surrounding environmental conditions. A similar decision-making would be a daunting task for digital computers. Additionally, as CMOS devices are approaching their fundamental scaling limits, it becomes important to explore alternative ways of computing that are power efficient and scalable. To this end, people have traditionally explored Neural Networks. In fact, Deep Neural Networks (DNN) based machine learning is becoming increasingly important Developing brain inspired components such as neurons and synapses for cognitive computing. Image source: LinkedIn. Application of novel low-power data storage devices. Image source: Google IoT PoC Wearable electronics Smart phones Tablets Laptop Data storage Hardware Security ReRAM Devices Microelectronics and Integrated-Systems with Neuro-centric Devices (MIND) these days where cloud is getting inundated with massive amount of data generated by various sources. However, DNN still runs on digital computers that uses fundamentally different components and architecture than those found in a biological brain. Therefore, to address this challenge, our research group focuses on understanding the components and circuits in a biological brain and develops nanoelectronic neuromorphic devices and circuits that can match the energy-efficiency, scalability, and robustness of a biological brain for biomimetic learningbased computing and decision making. This research aligns closely with the recent grand challenge announcement from the White House in the areas of brain inspired computing.

For both projects, students will be involved in:

  1. Microfabrication of selector diodes in cleanroom.
  2. Testing of selector diodes on state of the art electrical testing equipment available in MIND lab at UC
  3. Data analysis and device modeling
  4. Working with Dr. Jha in a research of highly motivated graduate and undergraduate students.
  5. Exploration of Artificial Neural Network Circuits and interfacing with artificial synapses for Neuromorphic Architectures. 

Professor Nan Niu
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Software requirements traceability refers to “the ability to describe and follow the life of a requirement”. In modern software development such as agile and open-source projects, requirements are often represented in a lightweight way (e.g., modeled as user stories) and refined continuously. This research project aims to develop a new way of understanding the trace links by leveraging the rich repositories of issues, code commits, and their discussion from the project stakeholders. In particular, a heterogeneous graph of people, artifacts, and tasks will be developed, from which the traceability will be defined. The Protege student will join a team of graduate students in the Software Engineering Research Lab for the summer research, and the research results will be submitted for peer-reviewed publications.

Professor Murali Sundaram
Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
631 Rhodes Hall
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0072
(513) 556-2791

Project Description:


While manufacturing processes improve, including the ever-popular emerging 3D printing process, a new issue arises – how do we deal with the material waste and pollution that results from the chemical processes to make products, the gases released in transportation, excess material not used in the process, or material from disposed products? Ventures such as Growduce have made new sustainable processes where food waste can be used to make products in your own home, eliminating the need for transportation or large manufacturing facilities. The food waste is placed into 3D printed plastic molds, where it dries out into a sterile and leathery material and can be used as an alternative to conventional plastic products, such as tableware or gloves. However, this process is still limited to using plastic for the template (manufactured using either 3D printing or a different process) for the food scraps to be molded in. This means that the previous issues of using non-biodegradable materials are still present. The goal of this project is two-fold: (1) to develop an extrusion-based 3D printing system that can directly print shapes out of biodegradable material without depending on an external mold or support system. This would require the students to design a way to store the biodegradable material and transport it to an extrusion system, as well as a timely way to solidify/dry the deposited material. (2) Then, to identify an item in daily life that could be made more sustainable by creating a biodegradable version, and use the system developed to print a functioning item that is biodegradable. The students will decide what parameters of the output part to evaluate and then test, re-design, and re-print as necessary. Some of the example parts under consideration are Gloves (Can they handle a task such as making a pizza or keeping your hands warm in the cold?) Shoes/Sandals – Can they withstand a walk from ERC circle to McMicken Commons? and Bags – What is the maximum weight it can withstand? For what amount of time until it breaks?

Learning opportunities for students

As this research is multidisciplinary in nature, it offers tremendous opportunity for undergraduate students to be exposed to interdisciplinary research. The project will also introduce students to the various aspects of academic research starting from literature review to report preparation. The simulation system development and experimentation involved will provide hands-on experience in research. Students will learn about 3D Printing, stepper motor control, use of biodegradable materials, and design of an extrusion system. The undergraduate student will also be encouraged to present the work at either a conference and/or prepare a paper for journal publication.

Professor Murali Sundaram Director 
Micro and Nano Manufacturing Laboratory
Mechanical and Materials Engineering
631 Rhodes Hall
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0072
(513) 556-2791 

Project Description

Material removal using high pressure water (water jet machining) is an emerging manufacturing method. Water jet machining has several applications in the biomedical and food processing industries due to its non-thermal nature, bio compatibility, and selective material removal. Hydro jet – a variant of water Jet machining is preferred during certain surgeries as the tumor may be selectively removed with minimal damage to surrounding blood vessels (ischemia) and veins. In food processing industry water jet cutting is preferred as it results in lower cross contamination when compared with traditional blade cutting. As part of the project the student will perform experiments using the custom built micro water jet system at the Micro and nano manufacturing lab. The student will also work with simulating the process to understand the machining characteristics of the process. Different work materials will be machined ranging from bio-materials to soft metals. Learning opportunities for students As this research is multidisciplinary in nature, it offers tremendous opportunity for undergraduate students to be exposed to interdisciplinary research. The project will also introduce students to the various aspects of academic research starting from literature review to report preparation. The experimentation involved will offer hands-on experience in research for the student. Students will learn about the theory behind the water jet machining process, and understand the workings of the water jet machine at the Micro and Nano Manufacturing Lab. Learn to use simulation software’s such as COMSOL, ANSYS and Matlab to interpret the findings of the theory. The undergraduate student will also be encouraged to present the work at either a conference and/or prepare a paper for journal publication.

Abstract: This project is to build and test a larger size prototype of a tiny medical robotic actuator or millirobot that has great flexibility and functionality, thus opening up a range of capabilities that are currently unavailable in medical or engineering areas. These millirobots will be a new paradigm for medical applications because they are larger than nanoparticle vehicles, which are too small to perform medical procedures, and smaller than the da Vinci Robot, which has centimeter-sized tools and arms that are too large to access many sites. Long catheters are also available, but lack the combination of being small, steerable through tissue, and functional at their tips. Millirobots will move in tissues, and will be functional at the tip driven via hydraulic and electrical power. The robot will move through tissue minimally invasively. Unique Aspects: Medical and engineering teams worldwide have sought to design miniaturized devices that can be directed to specific remote and otherwise inaccessible sites and then perform a series of tasks. Just as laparoscopic and catheter-based interventions have revolutionized medicine, millirobots would lay the groundwork for another revolution in precision medicine. One application is for cancer diagnosis and therapy. Some tumors are considered unresectable (inoperable, cannot be removed completely through surgery) if they’re located for example in critical areas of the brain, where surgical removal would be too dangerous or cause too much damage to healthy brain tissue. The millirobot may be used in these cases, Fig-1. The location of the tumor is one reason it may be inoperable. A tumor may be intertwined with blood vessels and other vital structures in the body making safe removal impossible. The millirobot may provide greater precision in surgery in these cases. Work Location: This research will be performed in the CEAS Nanoworld Laboratory in Rhodes Hall. Mark Schulz will be the mentor. Other faculty members may help guide the project. One or two students may work on this project. The project will be in an engineering lab, there will not be any medical work. Please contact Mark for a more detailed description of the project.

Mark J. Schulz, Professor and Co-Director of Nanoworld Laboratories
Mechanical & Materials Engineering
498 Rhodes Hall
Cincinnati, OH 45221
(513) 556-4132

Dr. Vesselin Shanov Professor of Chemical Engineering Department of Chemical and Environmental
Office: 580 Engineering Research Center (ERC)

Graduate students will be also involved

Projects: 1. Energy Storage Devices Based on Three Dimensional (3D) Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes (CNT): Case Supercapacitors and Lithium–Ion Batteries 2. Electro-chemical Sensors Based on 3D Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes.

Project Summary Related to Project 1.

The big idea for this project is the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge to “Make Solar Energy More Economical.” The fast development of renewable and sustainable energy techniques such as solar cells and wind turbines requires efficient energy storage systems to offset the fluctuations in power availability caused by clouds or varying winds. The central challenge or objective of this project is to develop technology to produce a seamless 3D graphene called a Graphene Pellet (GP) and Carbon Nanotube (CNT) structure that are synthesized through chemical vapor deposition (CVD) using inexpensive nickel powder as catalyst template [1, 2]. GP is an important new platform for fabricating high performance supercapacitors, which is the first application of GP we intend to pursue. GP possesses well-controlled pore size (~2 nm), high electrical conductivity (148 S/cm) and good electromechanical properties. After electrochemical coating with manganese dioxide (MnO2), the GP/MnO2 electrode shows specific and volumetric capacitance up to 415 F g-1 and 235 F cm-3 , respectively, with capacitance retention of 90% after 5000 charge-discharge cycles. Moreover, when GP/MnO2 electrode is assembled with GP/polypyrrole electrode, the fabricated full cell prototype (supercapacitor) shows a superior electrochemical performance with a maximum energy density of 22.3 Wh/kg, maximum power density of 16.4 kW/kg, and very good cycle life that was able to power a light emitting diode (LED). These performance characteristics compare favorably to existing supercapacitors.

What work needs to be conducted to achieve the objectives? This research answers the guiding question: How do we fabricate multiple supercapacitors and batteries with reproducible properties? To answer this guiding question, following 6 tasks are proposed to be undertaken:

  • Purchase of commercially available housing of supercapacitors and batteries.
  • Synthesis of 3D graphene. 
  • Manufacturing of the positive electrodes of the supercapacitors and batteries. 
  • Manufacturing of the negative electrodes of the supercapacitors and batteries.
  • Assembling the supercapacitor and battery devices.
  • Electrochemical testing the supercapacitor and battery devices.

What research facilities will be used to conduct the research? The Nanoworld Laboratory at University of Cincinnati ( will be used for the research projects. It is a College laboratory for material and device development, teaching, and demonstrations. Nanoworld is an internationally recognized laboratory for trailblazing and road mapping innovation, translating the discoveries to industry, and training a next generation workforce that will be in high-demand.

Four labs form the Nanoworld Labs at University of Cincinnati:

  • NANOWORLD, Main Lab 414A, 414B & 413 Rhodes Hall, Ph. 513-556-4652
  • Nanocomposite Materials and Characterization Labs, Rhodes 507 and Rhodes 506
  • Substrates and Nanomaterials Processing Laboratory, 581 Engineering Research Center (ERC) 
  • Pilot Microfactory for Nanomedicine Devices Lab, 587 ERC

Nanoworld may be the largest nanotube research laboratory in an academic setting with three commercial nanotube reactors to synthesize nanotube materials and transition the processes to industry. Nanotube reactors are in continuous operation along with post-processing and characterization equipment. Magnesium (Mg) single crystal manufacturing and coating systems are also used for developing biodegradable implants. University of Cincinnati Nanoworld supports research for undergraduate and graduate students from across the university. Prof. Vesselin Shanov of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (DCEE) and Prof. Mark Schulz of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (DMME) direct the Nanoworld lab. Faculty members from across the University and from the UC College of Medicine collaborate with Nanoworld. The main nanotechnology research in Nanoworld is in the field of synthesis, processing and characterization of carbon nanostructured materials, fibers, metal nanowires, nanocomposites, smart structures, electromagnetic devices, and sensors. Nanoworld is also developing innovations in medicine including Mg materials for biodegradable implants, microsensors and devices for interventional cardiology and cancer, and smart biodegradable implants. Nanoworld is also comprehensively involved in education and is frequently used to host middle school and high school students along with their science teachers. Nanoworld leads teaching two undergraduate nanotechnology courses at University of Cincinnati and one graduate course. These courses use state-of-the-art instrumentation in Nanoworld to perform lab modules. Also, students from other courses tour Nanoworld and learn about nanotechnology, biodegradable metals, biosensors, biomedical devices, and other advanced topics. Undergraduate through Ph.D. students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty members, and industry collaborators all work together in Nanoworld. Hundreds of people visit Nanoworld each year. The faculty members affiliated with Nanoworld bring a great deal of expertise and time to mentoring the students to assure the education and research experience is successful.



Prof. Manish Kumar

Unmanned Aerial Systems (s-UAS) have generated a lot of interest recently among the research community due to their potential to revolutionize some of the applications in civilian domain such as emergency management, law enforcement, infrastructure inspection, precision agriculture, package delivery, and imaging/surveillance. Given these numerous potential applications and the inexpensive nature of these s-UAS, it is anticipated that there will be an extremely large number of UAS flying in much crowded airspace once allowed by government regulation. This presents several challenges in safe operation of UAS in terms of management of their traffic so that a large number of UAS can be operated in a congested airspace such that the required separation is maintained between manned aircraft, UAS and other stationary ground obstacles. One of the aspects of safe operation of UAS is having the onboard Sense-and-Avoid capability that would allow the UAS to be able to detect other UAS (and other mobile or stationary obstacles) in the neighborhood and plan an escape route to avoid the collision. Detection is enabled by onboard sensors such as radar or vision/thermal camera, or via ADS-B that allows one UAS to communicate to the others in the neighborhood. Once detection has occurred, the UAS should obtain an escape route to avoid the collision. UAV MASTER Lab has built prototypes that has laser and vision sensors. This project will advance the capability by adding radar and ADS-B technology. This project will involve hands-on experience of working with different sensors, flight controllers and UAS platforms, and software development to process sensor data and plan escape routes.