UW Today

Department of Materials Science & Engineering

June 7, 2017

Scientists discover a 2-D magnet

A top-view depiction of a single layer of CrI3. Chromium atoms are depicted in grey, with iodine atoms in purple.

A team led by the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has for the first time discovered magnetism in the 2-D world of monolayers, or materials that are formed by a single atomic layer. The findings, published June 8 in the journal Nature, demonstrate that magnetic properties can exist even in the 2-D realm — opening a world of potential applications.

December 19, 2016

UW researcher pursues synthetic ‘scaffolds’ for muscle regeneration

A microscopic view of a chitosan scaffold.

Miqin Zhang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Washington, is looking for ways to help the body heal itself when injury, disease or surgery cause large-scale damage to one type of tissue in particular: skeletal muscle. Her goal is to create a synthetic, porous, biologically compatible “scaffold” that mimics the normal extracellular environment of skeletal muscle — onto which human cells could migrate and grow new replacement fibers.

November 29, 2016

In one-two punch, researchers load ‘nanocarriers’ to deliver cancer-fighting drugs and imaging molecules to tumors

Tiny particles that can deliver chemotherapy drugs.

In a paper published Sept. 27 in the journal Small, scientists at the University of Washington describe a new system to encase chemotherapy drugs within tiny, synthetic “nanocarrier” packages, which could be injected into patients and disassembled at the tumor site to release their toxic cargo.

October 3, 2016

New protein bridges chemical divide for ‘seamless’ bioelectronics devices

A top view of GrBP5 nanowires on a 2-D surface of graphene.

In a paper published Sept. 22 in Scientific Reports, engineers at the University of Washington unveiled peptides that could help bridge the gap where artificial meets biological — harnessing biological rules to exchange information between the biochemistry of our bodies and the chemistry of our devices.

September 12, 2016

Graduate education in clean energy due for ‘big data’ overhaul

A sunset

Jim Pfaendtner, University of Washington associate professor of chemical engineering, is leading a new endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation to bring big data to graduate education in clean energy research at the UW.

May 13, 2016

Proton-conducting material found in jelly that fills organs of sharks, skates and rays

Image of the ampullae of Lorenzini found in sharks, skates and rays.

The jelly found in the electrosensory organs of sharks, skates and rays is a remarkable proton-conducting material, with the highest proton conductivity ever reported for a biological material, UW researchers have found.

UW researchers unleash graphene ‘tiger’ for more efficient optoelectronics

Image of one of the graphene-based devices

In traditional light-harvesting methods, energy from one photon only excites one electron or none depending on the absorber’s energy gap, transferring just a small portion of light energy into electricity. The remaining energy is lost as heat. But in a paper released May 13 in Science Advances, Wu, UW associate professor Xiaodong Xu and colleagues at four other institutions describe one promising approach to coax photons into stimulating multiple electrons. Their method exploits some surprising quantum-level interactions to give one photon multiple potential electron partners.

May 11, 2016

UW researchers secure prestigious MURI grants for self-cooling lasers and fluid mechanics


University of Washington professors Peter Pauzauskie and Alberto Aliseda are part of two U.S. Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grants to develop innovative approaches to cutting-edge fields of engineering.

April 5, 2016

UW joins public-private partnership for flexible electronics

An example of flexible hybrid electronics.

The University of Washington has joined NextFlex, a consortium of 30 academic institutions and industrial partners to develop the next generation of flexible electronic devices. As a founding member of this alliance, the UW will seek local and regional partners in the electronics and manufacturing industries to develop and produce flexible electronics for applications from…

February 12, 2016

UW scientists create ultrathin semiconductor heterostructures for new technological applications

An illustration of the strong valley exciton interactions and transport in a 2-D semiconductor heterostructure.

University of Washington scientists have successfully combined two different ultrathin semiconductors — each just one layer of atoms thick and roughly 100,000 times thinner than a human hair — to make a new two-dimensional heterostructure with potential uses in clean energy and optically-active electronics.

November 16, 2015

UW team refrigerates liquids with a laser for the first time

Photo of crystal

Since the first laser was invented in 1960, they’ve always given off heat. University of Washington researchers are the first to solve a decades-old puzzle — figuring out how to make a laser refrigerate water and other liquids.

August 3, 2015

Crystals form through a variety of paths, with implications for biological, materials and environmental research

Artist's rendition of calcium carbonate crystals.

Crystals play an important role in the formation of substances from skeletons and shells to soils and semiconductor materials. But many aspects of their formation are shrouded in mystery. Scientists have long worked to understand how crystals grow into complex shapes. Now, an international group of researchers has shown how nature uses a variety of…

March 23, 2015

UW scientists build a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet

The ultra-thin semiconductor, which is about 100,000 times thinner than a human hair, stretches across the top of the photonic cavity.

University of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser using a semiconductor that’s only three atoms thick. It could help open the door to next-generation computing that uses light, rather than electrons, to transfer information.

November 20, 2014

UW undergrad’s early life challenges become a hectic schedule of opportunity

David Coven in the lab.

From starting his own company – and recruiting 11 friends to join him – and running a successful nonprofit to doing research in the lab and taking a full course load, engineering undergraduate student David Coven is an expert schedule juggler.

August 26, 2014

Scientists craft a semiconductor junction only three atoms thick

As seen under an optical microscope, the heterostructures have a triangular shape. The two different monolayer semiconductors can be recognized through their different colors.

Scientists have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick.

March 10, 2014

Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient

This graphical representation shows the layers of the 2-D LED and how it emits light.

University of Washington scientists have built the thinnest-known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics. The LED is based off of two-dimensional, flexible semiconductors, making it possible to stack or use in much smaller and more diverse applications than current technology allows.

December 12, 2013

New state-funded Clean Energy Institute will focus on solar, battery technologies

Gov. Jay Inslee (center) shakes hands with Dan Schwartz, director of the new Clean Energy Institute, with UW President Michael Young (left).

A new University of Washington institute to develop efficient, cost-effective solar power and better energy storage systems launched Dec. 12 with an event attended by UW President Michael K. Young, Gov. Jay Inslee and researchers, industry experts and policy leaders in renewable energy.

August 26, 2013

Microneedle patch could replace standard tuberculosis skin test

A chitin microneedle patch tested on human skin.

A team led by University of Washington engineers has created a patch with tiny, biodegradable needles that can penetrate the skin and precisely deliver a tuberculosis test. The researchers published their results online Aug. 26 in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

June 12, 2013

Silicon-based nanoparticles could make LEDs cheaper, greener to produce

LumiSands red phosphors

Researchers at the University of Washington have created a material they say would make LEDs cheaper and greener to manufacture, driving down costs to consumers.