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Category: Research

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Shuai Zhang recognized in NNCI image contest

December 28, 2020

MSE research assistant professor Shuai Zhang was recognized for his submission to the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) Image Contest 2020. This annual contest, called “Plenty of Beauty at the Bottom,” celebrates the beauty of the micro and nanoscale. Images featured were produced at one of the 16 NNCI sites during the past year. Zhang’s image, “Protein Chess [...]

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Break it up: Polymer derived from material in shrimp’s shells could deliver anti-cancer drugs to tumor sites

November 3, 2020

A University of Washington team led by Miqin Zhang, a MolES faculty member and professor of materials science and engineering, has developed a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system that can ferry a potent anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream safely. Their nanoparticle is derived from chitin, a natural and organic polymer that, among other things, makes up the outer shells of shrimp. [...]

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How to build a network of pharmaceutical biofactories

October 15, 2020

Advances in synthetic biology and biomaterials are opening up exciting prospects for the distributed manufacturing of drugs, food products, and other commodities. [...]

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All together now: Experiments with twisted 2D materials catch electrons behaving collectively

October 7, 2020

In a paper published Sept. 14 in the journal Nature Physics, a team led by the University of Washington reports that carefully constructed stacks of graphene — a 2D form of carbon — can exhibit highly correlated electron properties. The team also found evidence that this type of collective behavior likely relates to the emergence of exotic magnetic states. [...]

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The heat is on for building 3D artificial organ tissues

October 1, 2020

Bioengineering professor Kelly Stevens and colleagues created a new tool to control gene expression in 3D-printed genetically-engineering cells using heat. [...]

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UW receives NSF funds for investment in an interdisciplinary quantum future

September 1, 2020

The National Science Foundation has awarded $3 million to establish a NSF Research Traineeship at the University of Washington for graduate students in quantum information science and technology. The new traineeship — known as Accelerating Quantum-Enabled Technologies, or AQET — will make the UW one of just “a handful” of universities with a formal, interdisciplinary QIST curriculum. MolES faculty member Kai-Mei Fu will serve as the director of AQET. [...]

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MolES faculty receive NSF EAGER award to develop new SARS-CoV-2 antibody test

July 30, 2020

James Carothers, Dan Evans Career Development Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Jesse Zalatan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, have been awarded a National Science Foundation EAGER grant to develop a new type of SARS-Cov-2 antibody test. Carothers and Zalatan will receive $300,000 over a one-year period from funds made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. [...]

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Developing rapid COVID-19 tests for the home and clinic

June 23, 2020

At the onset of the #COVID-19 pandemic, MolES faculty member Paul Yager, a UW professor of bioengineering, knew a rapid and accurate test would be needed to screen patients for the new coronavirus. He immediately set to work adapting his point-of-care testing research to developing an at-home test for the new virus. Read more about how the Yager lab is developing easy, fast and accurate COVID-19 tests to be used at home and in the clinic. [...]

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Meeting the need for COVID-19 test kits: Pivoting from Seattle Flu Study and developing new rapid tests

June 23, 2020

MolES faculty member and bioengineering professor Barry Lutz, in partnership with Dr. Matthew Thompson, a UW professor of family medicine and global health, is pioneering at home test kits for the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about how the Lutz lab is developing new ways to rapidly test for COVID-19. [...]

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COVID-19 Research at MolES

June 3, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MolES faculty have pivoted their research to address the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. They are leveraging molecular engineering approaches and tools to develop improved diagnostics, targeted treatment strategies, and a better understanding of the virus. We highlight a few of these projects here. [...]

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Pacific oysters in the Salish Sea may not contain as many microplastics as previously thought

May 1, 2020

Using advanced instrumentation in the Molecular Analysis Facility, researchers in the lab of MolES faculty member and materials science & engineering professor Christine Luscombe have discovered that Salish Sea oysters may not contain as many microplastic contaminants as previously thought. [...]

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Researchers identify rules for effectively regulating gene expression in bacteria

April 16, 2020

Jason Fontana, a molecular engineering Ph.D. student in the labs of chemical engineering professor James Carothers and chemistry professor Jesse Zalatan, has identified features of bacterial genes that impose strict requirements on CRISPR-Cas transcriptional activation tools. This work defines new strategies to effectively regulate gene expression in bacteria, bringing researchers closer to their goal of using bacteria to produce valuable biosynthetic products. Read this Q&A with Jesse Zalatan featured on the Science in Seattle blog. [...]

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New system outcompetes traditional biofactories with on-demand, remote chemical production | The Daily

February 27, 2020

A team was led by Dr. Alshakim Nelson, an assistant professor of chemistry at the UW, and Dr. Hal Alper, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Texas, developed a new method that combines the bioactivity of microbes and a 3D-printed, synthetic hydrogel — a water-based gel structure — to create desired chemical compounds. The products can vary from pharmaceuticals to nutraceuticals, alluding to the vast potential for this new finding. [...]

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Team uses golden ‘lollipop’ to observe elusive interference effect at the nanoscale | UW News

November 7, 2019

A team led by MolES faculty member David Masiello and scientists from the University of Notre Dame used recent advances in electron microscopy to observe Fano interferences — a form of quantum-mechanical interference by electrons — directly in a pair of metallic nanoparticles. [...]

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Light-based ‘tractor beam’ assembles materials at the nanoscale | UW News

November 4, 2019

A team led by MolES faculty member Peter Pauzauskie, a professor of materials science and engineering, has developed a method that could make reproducible manufacturing at the nanoscale possible. The team adapted a light-based technology employed widely in biology — known as optical traps or optical tweezers — to operate in a water-free liquid environment of carbon-rich organic solvents, thereby enabling new potential applications. [...]

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New technique lets researchers map strain in next-gen solar cells | UW News

October 31, 2019

A team led by David Ginger, professor of chemistry and MolES faculty member, has developed a way to map strain in lead halide perovskite solar cells. Their approach shows that misorientation between microscopic perovskite crystals is the primary contributor to the buildup of strain within the solar cell, which creates small-scale defects in the grain structure, interrupts the transport of electrons within the solar cell, and ultimately leads to heat loss through a process known as non-radiative recombination. [...]

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New metasurface design can control optical fields in three dimensions | UW News

October 4, 2019

A team led by MolES faculty member Arka Majumdar, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and physics, has designed and tested a 3D-printed metamaterial that can manipulate light with nanoscale precision. As they report in a paper published October 4 in the journal Science Advances, their designed optical element focuses light to discrete points in a 3D helical pattern. [...]

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Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute
Research team receives NSF award to develop ‘smart’ synthetic cell systems

September 24, 2019

An interdisciplinary research team led by MolES faculty member James Carothers, Dan Evans Career Development Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, received a new $1 million research grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate whether cells can learn. [...]

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Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute
Scientists can now control thermal profiles at the nanoscale | UW News

August 9, 2019

In a paper published online July 30 by the journal ACS Nano, David Masiello, MolES faculty member and professor of chemistry, and colleagues from Rice University and Temple University, report a new breakthrough on controlling the thermal profiles of materials at the nanoscale. The team of researchers designed and tested an experimental system that uses a near-infrared laser to actively heat two gold nanorod antennae — metal rods designed and built at the nanoscale — to different temperatures. The nanorods are so close together that they are both electromagnetically and thermally coupled. Yet the team measured temperature differences between the rods as high as 20 degrees Celsius. By simply changing the wavelength of the laser, they could also change which nanorod was cooler and which was warmer, even though the rods were made of the same material. [...]

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Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute
First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure could lead to longer-lasting devices | UW News

July 17, 2019

For the first time, scientists have visualized the electronic structure in a microelectronic device, opening up opportunities for finely tuned, high-performance electronic devices. UW physicists David Cobden and Xaiodong Xu, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Warwick, developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in operating microelectronic devices made of atomically thin — so-called 2D — materials. Their findings, published last week in the journal Nature could lead to new, finely tuned, high performance electronic devices. [...]

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