06/03/10 — Waste heat: It's when heat produced in a combustive process goes unused, dissipating into the air or water. Automobiles, industrial facilities and power plants all produce waste heat, and a lot of it. A holy grail awaits anyone who can improve the current fossil fuel system. One estimate places the worldwide waste heat recovery market at one trillion dollars, with the potential to offset as much as 500 million metric tons of carbon per year. What's the magic solution? Some Berkeley engineers believe the answer lies not in a sophisticated device, but in materials: specifically, finding a new material with spectacular thermoelectric properties that can efficiently and economically convert heat into electricity.
04/07/10 — Clean and green technologies are on the rise in Silicon Valley. Electric car startups like Tesla Motors and solar cell and biofuel innovators are snapping up commercial space, while established companies like Applied Materials are growing their clean energy divisions. “Over the past six years, clean tech's portion of venture [capital] investments has grown from merely 3 percent to more than 25 percent,” reported the San Jose Mercury News in January. The newspaper went on to pronounce clean and green technologies the next great wave of innovation in Silicon Valley. It's no surprise to five Berkeley Engineering alumni who work in the up-and-coming sector.
Tim Sands, Berkeley Engineering alum and former faculty member, appointed executive vice president and provost at Purdue
02/11/10 Purdue University — The Purdue University board of trustees has ratified the appointment of Timothy D. Sands as the university's next executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. A native of California, Sands earned a bachelor's degree with highest honors in engineering physics and a master's degree and doctorate in materials science from UC Berkeley, where he was also a professor of material science and engineering prior to coming to Purdue.
02/03/10 — Berkeley Engineering alumna Michelle Khine, now an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UC Irvine, has discovered an inventive scientific approach to fabricating cheap microfluidic devices using Shrinky Dinks. When her method of printing microfluidic patterns on Shrinky Dink sheets -- using a laser-jet printer, then heating them in a toaster oven to create patterns of channels and microwells -- was featured and published online in Lab Chip, it had more downloads in one month than any other paper previously posted by the UK's Royal Society of Chemistry.
10/08/09 — After 32 years at other universities, Matthew Tirrell joined Berkeley in July, and from his new Stanley Hall office, he ruminates on the job he's just taken, that of Department of Bioengineering chair. "A chair's creativity is needed when faculty members want help getting their ideas enacted -- that's enabling. And sometimes a chair gets a good idea of his or her own and has a chance to lead. Managing is fine, but I like enabling and leading best. I'd like to help this department define what it could be."
08/03/09 — Daryl Chrzan, a noted researcher in the field of computational materials science, is a diehard skateboarder. Besides carving the bowls at local skate parks, Chrzan loves to think about the science behind the sport. The Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering considers such questions as the physics involved in stunts, the evolution of the skateboard wheel, the limits of a skateboard's strength and even the g-forces experienced in spectacular spills. For the past two years, Chrzan has posed-and tried to answer-those puzzles in a one-unit freshman seminar called Physics and Materials Science of Skateboarding. His hands-on class puts a new spin on a popular, if educationally unsung pastime.
01/01/09 — Light interacts with glass, water and other transparent materials in long-understood ways that define the capabilities of traditional optical devices. But Professor Xiang Zhang's lab is engineering materials with fundamentally new optical properties that could enable far more powerful microscopes and microchips, denser optical storage, and even -- disclaimers in place -- the very beginnings of an invisibility shield that camouflages objects by bending light around them.
08/02/08 — High axial myopia, or extreme nearsightedness, is one of the world's leading causes of blindness. The condition stems from weakness in the sclera, the eyeball's white outer wall, which causes it to deform even under normal pressure within the eyeball. James Su, a graduate student researcher co-advised by MSE and Bioengineering Professor Kevin Healy and School of Optometry Professor Christine Wildsoet, is developing a promising new treatment for the condition, based on a synthetic biomaterial known as hydrogel.