more top stories »

University of Illinois

— Science

Scientists create "spray-on graphene"

Despite its many desirable qualities and potential applications, graphene still isn't as widely used as it could be for one main reason – it's difficult to apply to surfaces, particularly large ones. Attempting to do so often causes damage to the graphene, or otherwise results in a non-uniform, flawed coating. Now, however, scientists have devised a method of simply spraying the stuff on, that actually improves the graphene in the process. Read More
— Science

Regenerating plastic is better on the "hole"

Dropping your mobile phone can ruin your whole day as you look down at the spiderweb of cracks surrounding a small hole in the once-pristine plastic case. Now imagine watching as those cracks and that hole seal up by themselves, leaving behind a completely healed case. That may sound like science fiction, but it may not be for long with a team of researchers at the University of Illinois having developed a new system that doesn't just repair minor cracks in plastic, but regenerates to heal large holes. Read More
— Electronics

Four-junction, four-terminal stacked solar cell hits 43.9 percent efficiency

The ultimate goal of solar cell technology is to be able to generate electricity at costs lower than sources such as coal, natural gas and nuclear. Key to this is continuing improvements in conversion efficiency, and with the development of the first four-junction, four-terminal stacked solar cell produced using a micro transfer printing process, researchers have taken another step towards this goal by achieving efficiencies of up to 43.9 percent, with the possibility of exceeding 50 percent in the near future. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Smartphone sensor "fingerprints" could be used to track individual devices

Security-conscious smartphone users may decline apps' requests to "use your current location," but according to research conducted at the University of Illinois, doing so still doesn't mean that those users can't be tracked. This is because each phone's sensors – such as the accelerometer – have a unique "fingerprint." By identifying that fingerprint in sensor data sent from the phone, third parties could at the very least keep track of what the user is doing at what time. Read More
— Science

Vascular self-healing system allows composite materials to repair multiple times

We've seen numerous examples of self-healing polymers that allow materials to repair themselves after being damaged. One of the more common approaches involves the use of embedded microcapsules that release a healing agent when damaged. Researchers have expanded on this idea to develop a new technique that brings self-healing capabilities to fiber-reinforced composite materials, like those used in airplanes and automobiles. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Stretchy, health monitoring skin patch uses off-the-shelf components

A team of engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University is developing a stick-on patch that makes health monitoring more flexible and practical. Building on previous work, the latest design replaces custom-made components with off-the-shelf, chip-based electronics to deliver a soft, tattoo-like epidermal electronic system for wireless health monitoring. Read More
— Medical

Electronic membrane could provide high-res heart care

When it comes to monitoring the electrical activity of the heart, or delivering electrical stimulation to it (as in the case of pacemakers), most current technologies rely on electrodes that make contact with the organ in just a few locations. That doesn't necessarily provide a very detailed picture of what's going on, nor does it deliver stimulation all that evenly. Now, scientists have created a sensor-laden three-dimensional elastic membrane that can be pulled over the whole heart, to provide a large number of contact points. Read More
— Science

Cold-tolerant oil-producing sugarcane could be one sweet source of biofuel

Sugarcane grows like crazy, so if it could be used as a source of biofuel, well ... not only might it produce higher yields than other crops, but it could conceivably do so using less land. With that in mind, scientists from the University of Illinois are creating a strain of the plant that produces more oil, gets more energy from the sun, and can be grown in colder climates. Read More
— Science

Researchers convert plastic bags into a variety of petroleum products

Despite efforts to limit their use through implementation of charges or bans, billions of plastic bags continue to clog landfills, waterways and the world's oceans every year. Already a potential source for carbon fiber and carbon nanotubes, researchers have provided another reason not to throw the ubiquitous bags away by converting them into a range of petroleum products. Read More

Scientists create an inexpensive self-healing polymer

Stretchy, self-healing paints and other coatings recently took a step closer to common use, thanks to research being conducted at the University of Illinois. Scientists there have used "off-the-shelf" components to create a polymer that melds back together after being cut in half, without the addition of catalysts or other chemicals. Read More