University research endeavors
The Texas Ignition Fund has awarded $275,000 to six UT Arlington research projects—the most projects and highest total funding of any UT System institution. The grants support the development of implantable sensors to battle gastroesophageal reflux disease, the creation of more efficient solar cells and the conversion of coal into crude oil. Other projects involve research on prosthetic skin, energy-efficient wireless sensors and an oxygenator that mimics human lungs. Established in 2007 by the UT System Board of Regents, the fund provides early-stage grants to the 15 system institutions to transform research discoveries into marketable intellectual property.
Protons zoom at nearly the speed of light around the 17-mile Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, and UT Arlington played a pivotal role in getting the tiny particles moving. Members of the High Energy Physics Group built components for the ATLAS detector at the LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. UT Arlington is also the lead institution for the Southwest Tier 2 computing facilities that will analyze data from the giant detector, and physics Professor Kaushik De is the U.S. computing operations coordinator for ATLAS. Other UT Arlington physicists working on the project are Professor Andrew White, Associate Professors Andrew Brandt and Jaehoon Yu, Assistant Professor Amir Farbin and 15 other researchers, including students.
Flashes of genius
Electrical engineering Professor Wei-Jen Lee will lead a national study to increase the understanding of arc flashes. An arc flash is an electric current that passes through the air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is insufficient to withstand the voltage. Every year, approximately 2,000 electrical workers suffer serious injuries from arc flashes. Funded by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the National Fire Protection Association, the multi-year project is expected to cost up to $7 million. Dr. Lee will collaborate with other electrical engineers to discover what kind of energy is being released, predict the hazards associated with arcing faults and accompanying arc blasts, and decide what protection is necessary.
Fishing for a solution
Biology Professor James Grover and colleagues from Baylor University and Texas A&M University have received a $498,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to study algae on Lake Waco and Lake Granbury. Since 1988 more than six million fish have died along the Brazos River due to high golden algae levels. Officials believe large golden algae blooms clog the fishes’ gills, causing them to suffocate. The researchers want to locate coves where conditions are optimal for golden algae growth and then conduct laboratory experiments on algae samples. Their work will provide pilot data for further studies manipulating nutrients in these hot spots to reduce the growth.
Electrical engineering researchers have won part of an Air Force Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative award to investigate various nanotechnologies. The highly competitive MURI awards provide long-term support for science and engineering research vital to national defense. Assistant Professor Weidong Zhou will collaborate with researchers at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois and the Air Force. Dr. Zhou’s research group will develop crystal-based nanophotonic devices on nanomembranes for silicon photonics and infrared-sensing applications.