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Contact printing with shape-memory polymers: Less expensive, more efficient

University researchers are developing a contact printing process, using shape-memory polymers, that would be less expensive and more energy efficient than other nanofabrication processes now in use. They believe the process could not only advance the nation's nanomanufacturing capabilities but, closer to home, contribute to Rochester's role as a national hub for next-generation integrated photonics.

Mitchell Anthamatten, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, along with co-PIs Alexander Shestopalov, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and John Lambropoulos, Chair and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, have received a $1.5 million NSF grant to further develop the process, then team up with an industrial partner to demonstrate its capability to produce high resolution organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays. Beyond that, the researchers envision potential applications in a range of photonics, sensors and other devices.

Rochester was recently named the headquarters of a $625 million federal-, state- and industry-funded initiative to advance the nation's manufacturing capability of integrated photonics. "The timing of this award is perfect," Anthamatten stated. "A large group of optical applications could emerge, and this kind of nanomanufacturing could contribute to the AIM Photonics Initiative."

Key to the NSF-funded project are the unique capabilities of shape-memory polymers. As their name suggests, their shape or texture can be manipulated by a change in temperature or other variable.

How would this work in contact printing?

"Imagine a rubber stamp", Shestopalov explained, "made of a shape-memory polymer with features down to mere microns that could be used to transfer layers of organic or inorganic thin-film materials."

The stamping device is pressed down onto a desired thin-film material (an ink) which adheres to the stamp's pattern where contact is made. The stamping device, carrying the ink, is transferred to a target surface where it is heated. The higher temperature causes the shape-memory polymer on the face of the stamping device to become curved, disrupting the adhesion between the stamp and the ink, and the ink is released onto the manufactured device, retaining the desired pattern.

"Basically it's a transfer process," Shestopalov explained.

The process has some key advantages over photolithography and masked shadow deposition, which are two of the most prevalent nanofabrication processes now used. Photolithography uses light to create high-resolution patterns but is relatively expensive and cannot be used with organic films. Shadow mask deposition evaporates material through small holes, but that causes diffusion, which decreases resolution.

"We want to have a method that allows us to print different materials with higher resolution than shadow mask deposition and lower cost than photolithography," Shestopalov explained. Moreover, the contact printing approach would not be limited to flat surfaces, because the stamping devices are flexible. "So large photonic patterns that absorb certain wavelengths in the infrared region can be created with this technique," he said.

The opportunity to collaborate between Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering resulted from the interaction of the three faculty via the Materials Science Program, Lambropoulos noted. "This is another benefit of having such a multidisciplinary program, such as MSC, in the College."

The team will integrate their research into university courses for undergraduates, including a team-taught course on nanomanufacturing that will "enhance manufacturing skills of students entering the workforce." .

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University researchers part of U.S.-China collaboration on climate change

Carmala Garzione and John Tarduno, both professors of earth and environmental sciences, expect to learn more about the role of CO2 in climate change through a study of reverse global warming — by researching the first ice sheets formed in the Northern Hemisphere. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $4.24 million to Garzione and Tarduno to launch the joint U.S.-China research project.

Garzione and her colleagues will test their theory that iron-rich dust from Asian deserts fertilized the North Pacific Ocean, stimulating the growth of algae that reduced atmospheric CO2 and caused the planet to begin cooling three million years ago.

"The depletion of atmospheric CO2, in turn, would have led to a cooler climate that may have made conditions even more arid," said Garzione." And that would have resulted in a cycle of increased dust, more iron deposits in the ocean, the further loss of CO2, and continued cooling."

A key question, according to Garzione, is whether there was a "tectonic trigger" — such as the growth of mountain ranges on the northern margin of Tibet — that caused isolated basins to become arid between these ranges, as well as an increase in the amount of airborne dust.

Tarduno will evaluate the algal growth that's associated with the deposition of the dust from the Asian deserts. "A central test of our hypothesis involves timing," he said. "Specifically, is there a correlation between the release of dust from the deserts and the buildup of sediments in the ocean?"

The NSF grant will fund summer schools, workshops, and research exchanges between U.S. and Chinese students that will give them access to shared research facilities in both countries, as well as field localities in China.

"We expect the program to establish a new generation of scientists who will continue working together long after the grant runs its course," said Garzione.

The research team includes three Chinese institutions and six other U.S. universities (Brown, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of Colorado, and University of Texas at Austin). The Chinese researchers are seeking a companion award from their country's Ministry of Science and Technology.

CTSI grant helps PhD student study mechanisms underlying lupus

A diagnosis of lupus, which involves chronic inflammation and tissue damage, often means an elevated risk of early mortality and a lifetime of immunosuppressive therapy. Anna Bird, a doctoral student in the laboratory of Jennifer Anolik, Associate Professor of Medicine (Allergy/Immunology and Rheumatology), was recently awarded a CTSI Trainee Pilot Grant to study the immunologic mechanisms underlying the autoimmune disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Bird seeks a better understanding of the factors driving lupus pathogenesis to help researchers develop more specific, targeted therapeutic approaches, reports the CTSI Stories blog.

Specifically, she is defining the mechanisms underlying pathology observed in an under-characterized tissue in lupus: the bone marrow. Bone marrow in lupus often produces functionally abnormal or inadequate numbers of immune cells, and is a site where tissue necrosis and bone thinning are commonly observed. Evidence is accumulating that dysregulated cell production by the marrow contributes directly to lupus pathogenesis in peripheral tissues, as well as the high rate of infection that lupus patients experience.

The CTSI project focuses on the neutrophil as a likely contributor to pathology in lupus marrow. Neutrophils contribute to inflammation in peripheral tissues including the vasculature and kidneys, and have been identified as a source of dying cell material and type I interferon, as well as B lymphocyte proliferation factors that are known to be central in driving B lymphocyte reactivity against self-tissues in lupus. Neutrophils develop abnormally in lupus and may be acquiring premature effector function that is responsible for elevated cell death seen in lupus marrow.

"Ultimately, this project will both assess whether neutrophils contribute to pathology in the marrow, as well as identifying the mediators responsible for abnormal neutrophil development in lupus," said Bird. "This Pilot has provided a great opportunity for a translational investigation, incorporating a highly novel characterization of human bone marrow in lupus in combination with a murine model, which will allow me to tease apart the mechanisms underlying neutrophil defects in lupus."

Applications sought for University Research Awards

The Request for Proposal and simplified application are available to faculty for the 2016-17 University Research Awards. The deadline for submission is Feb. 1, 2016.

Originally called Provost's Multidisciplinary Awards, these are given to recipients who demonstrate their projects favor new research with a high probability of being leveraged by future external funding.

Environmental health center offers pilot projects

The Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) has funds to support a limited number of pilot projects that are relevant to the theme of the EHSC, namely "Environmental Agents as Modulators of Human Disease and Dysfunction." Applicants may request a maximum of $30,000 for one year and must hold a tenure-track position. The deadline for submitting initial applications is Oct. 19. Click here to learn more and access the RFA.

HSCCI seeks applications for short-term, early-phase work

The University's Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation is requesting applications to accelerate research in computational biology and health, and to take advantage of the high performance computational resources of the University. Funds are available to support laboratory staff for short-term, early phase work necessary to create computer code or models, and to get new biocomputational or health-related scientific projects underway. Applications are due Monday, Nov. 2. Click here to read the full RFA.

Workshop to discuss GIS and its applications

Researchers in a variety of fields — from the physical sciences to the humanities — are integrating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into their projects. Learn about GIS concepts, its history and applications, and how you can access GIS software and support at the University of Rochester during a workshop from 10-11 a.m., Oct. 7, in the Rush Rhees Training Room.

The workshop will consist of a brief overview, with time allowed for Q&A afterwards. This is not a hands-on workshop, but if this piques your interest, subsequent hands-on sessions will be arranged.

The workshop is open to all faculty, staff, and students interested in learning about GIS and its applications.

Questions? Contact Blair Tinker at

"Data Dictionary Generator" improves scholarly text encoding

New software aimed at improving documentation for scholarly text encoding may have a big impact on digital humanities projects. The Data Dictionary Generator, developed by Joe Easterly, digital humanities librarian at the River Campus Libraries, creates a snapshot of scholarly annotations, then displays that information with tagging guidelines in texts. The tool aims to help project editors create stronger encoding guidelines for their collaborators. Read more.

Forum highlights research opportunities in Europe

Destination Europe, a forum for leading European research organizations and funders to present the opportunities they offer to researchers and innovators from anywhere in the world, will be held in Chicago on Oct. 16. The forum is free, but seats are limited. Registration deadline is Oct. 5. Read more . . .

Introducing a new faculty member

Hayley Clatterbuck recently joined the Department of Philosophy as an assistant professor. Clatterbuck is a philosopher of science, with expertise in formal epistemology and research projects in philosophy of biology and philosophy of cognitive science. Her dissertation, Are Humans the Only Theorizers? A Philosophical Examination of the Theory-Theory of Human Uniqueness, examines the hypothesis that humans are unique in having evolved the capacity to theorize or reason about theoretical entities, events, and relations in a way analogous to the use of theories in scientific practice. The dissertation re-evaluates fundamental issues in the philosophy of science and philosophy of mind that raise problems for the theory-theory, showing how insights from these fields can be used to clarify and defend the view. Clatterbuck's publications have focused on chimpanzee mindreading, the epistemology of thought experiments, and evolutionary drift and selection, and have appeared in such publications as Mind & Language, Synthese, and Biology and Philosophy. She earned her MA and PhD in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2012 and 2015, respectively, and her BA in philosophy from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2008.

Congratulations to . . .

Michael Rotondo, CEO of the University's Medical Faculty Group and Professor of Surgery, who was voted president of one of the country's leading surgical associations, The Halsted Society. Read more...

PhD dissertation defense

Morgan Monaghan, Biochemistry, "Identification of A2 Inter-Subunit Interactions in Factor VIIIa of the Blood Clotting Pathway." 10 a.m., Oct. 15, 2015, Neuman Room (1-6823). Advisor: Eric Phizicky.

Mark your calendar

Today: How to Build a Career in Data Science, Henry Kautz, the Robin & Tim Wentworth Director of the Goergen Institute of Data Science, 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Carlson Student Research Space, 1st floor of Carlson Library near VISTA Collaboratory. Register by Sept. 28 to guarantee a free lunch.

Today: Applications due for a $30,000 award and a $15,000 award from the Lung Biology Strategic Plan for a high-risk project related to lung biology or disease or a nanosight technology-focused project using NS300 technology. Email Richard Phipps or Rebecca Trautman for more information. Click here to see the full RFP.

Oct. 7: Workshop on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the applications for researchers in a variety of fields from the physical sciences to the humanities. 10-11 a.m., Rush Rhees Training Room. Questions? Contact Blair Tinker at

Oct. 13: "The Promise and Pitfalls of Biomedical Prevention," Sarit Golub, Professor of Psychology at the City University of New York, Hunter College HIV/AIDS Research Team. Sponsored by The Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). 3-3:50 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium. Reception/mixer to follow with food, beverages, and live music; please RSVP to attend the Mixer: Laura Enders

Oct. 15: Applications due no later than 5 p.m. for CFAR RNA Pilot Announcement. Click here for details.

Oct. 15-16: NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration, San Diego, CA. Click here for more information and registration.

Oct. 16: Pre-proposals due for Technology Development Fund awards of up to $100,000 to advance projects to a commercial endpoint. A submitted invention disclosure to UR Ventures is required for an application. Pre-proposals can be submitted to Omar Bakht. Read more...

Oct. 19: Deadline for applications for Environmental Health Sciences Center pilot projects. Click here to learn more and access the RFA.

Oct. 20: Industry Consulting: The Contract, presented by Karl Keiburtz and Karen Rabinowitz, noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium, 1w304. Part of the CTSI Skill-Building Workshop series on Good Advice: Case Studies in Clinical Research, Regulation, and the Law.

Oct. 21: Industry Consulting: Part Two. Karl Keiburtz and Karen Rabinowitz, noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium, 1w304. Part of the CTSI Skill-Building Workshop series on Good Advice: Case Studies in Clinical Research, Regulation, and the Law.

Oct. 22: Applications due no later than 5 p.m. for CFAR Major Collaborative Pilot Announcement. Click here for details.

Oct. 26: The tension between hybridization and reproductive isolation, Daniel Garrigan, Assistant Professor of Biology. Department of Biology Donut Talk. Noon to 1 p.m., Lander Auditorium - Hutchison 140.

Oct. 30: Applications due no later than 5 p.m. for CFAR Joint Funding Opportunity in HIV/AIDS through SMD, SON and Program Of Excellence. Click here for details.

Nov. 2: Initial abstracts due for applications for funding from Medical Center Incubator Program. Details and application instructions are available here.

Nov. 2: Applications due for funding from the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation for short-term, early phase work necessary to create computer code or models, and to get new biocomputational or health-related scientific projects underway. Click here to read the full RFA.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. You can see back issues of Research Connections, an index of people and departments linked to those issues, and a chronological listing of PhD dissertation defenses since April 2014, by discipline.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.