UW News

College of Engineering


February 25, 2019

It’s all in the twist: Physicists stack 2D materials at angles to trap particles on the nanoscale, creating a unique platform to study quantum optical physics

A depiction of single-layer semiconductors.

In a paper published Feb. 25 in the journal Nature, a University of Washington-led team of physicists report that it has developed a new system to trap individual excitons — bound pairs of electrons and their associated positive charges. Their system could form the basis of a novel experimental platform for monitoring excitons with precision and potentially developing new quantum technologies.


February 4, 2019

Early spring rain boosts methane from thawing permafrost by 30 percent

The landscape surrounding a thaw bog in Alaska

A UW-led team has found that early spring rainfall warms up a thawing permafrost bog in Alaska and promotes the growth of plants and methane-producing microbes.


January 23, 2019

First-of-its-kind center hosts tools to analyze the effects of natural disasters

A researcher watches the z boat

A center housed at the University of Washington offers a new way for scientists to get their hands on state-of-the-art equipment to study the effects of natural disasters. The RAPID Facility, which is the first of its kind in the world, contains over 300 instruments that are available for researchers around the world to use.


January 16, 2019

Three awards from US Department of Energy to fuel UW solar cell research

Three teams led by University of Washington researchers — Scott Dunham, Hugh Hillhouse and Devin MacKenzie — have received competitive awards totaling more than $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office for projects that will advance research and development in photovoltaic materials, which are an essential component of solar cells and impact the amount of sunlight that is converted into electricity.


January 9, 2019

First smartphone app to detect opioid overdose and its precursors

Second Chance uses sonar to monitor someone's breathing rate

UW researchers have developed a smartphone app that uses sonar to monitor someone’s breathing rate and sense when an opioid overdose has occurred.


December 19, 2018

Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air

a scientist puts a plant into a glass tube

Researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common houseplant to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it.


December 13, 2018

Underwater sensors for monitoring sea life (and where to find them)

lowering the wave-powered AMP frame into the water

A UW team created a mechanical eye under the ocean’s surface that could live near renewable-energy sites and use a series of sensors to watch nearby animals. On Dec. 13, the researchers put the newest version of the AMP into the waters of Seattle’s Portage Bay for two weeks of preliminary testing before a more thorough analysis is conducted in Sequim, Washington.


December 11, 2018

Researchers create first sensor package that can ride aboard bees

the sensor backpack

Farmers can already use drones to soar over huge fields and monitor temperature, humidity or crop health. But these machines need so much power to fly that they can’t get very far without needing a charge. Now, engineers at the University of Washington have created a sensing system that is small enough to ride aboard a bumblebee.


December 6, 2018

Two-dimensional materials skip the energy barrier by growing one row at a time

Picture of how small protein molecules interact with one another.

A new collaborative study led by a research team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Washington could provide engineers new design rules for creating microelectronics, membranes and tissues, and open up better production methods for new materials.


November 13, 2018

Scientists engineer a functional optical lens out of 2D materials

An image of four lenses under a microscope.

In a paper published Oct. 8 in the journal Nano Letters, a team from the University of Washington and the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan announced that it has constructed functional metalenses that are one-tenth to one-half the thickness of the wavelengths of light that they focus. Their metalenses, which were constructed out of layered 2D materials, were as thin as 190 nanometers — less than 1/100,000ths of an inch thick.


October 25, 2018

Urban Freight Lab will help UPS evaluate its new e-bike delivery service in Seattle

A UPS delivery person on an e-bike in front of the Space Needle

UPS announced today that it will be pilot-testing deliveries with cargo e-bikes in downtown Seattle. This test is expected to last a year, and the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab at the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center will help UPS evaluate the study’s outcomes.


Creating curious robots: UW researchers get Honda grant to build a mathematical model of curiosity

A student gets a hug from a robot.

The University of Washington will lead one of three teams that will partner with the Honda Research Institute to explore the mechanisms behind curiosity and seek advances in artificial cognition. The UW-led team will receive $2.7 million over the next three years to generate a mathematical model of curiosity.


October 12, 2018

Could parcel lockers in transit stations reduce traffic congestion in Seattle?

The University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab at the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center has been looking for solutions to Seattle’s traffic congestion: Parcel lockers that aren’t owned by a specific company could alleviate the strain. Now the researchers have identified five viable locker locations at three different Seattle Link light rail stations for a future pilot test.


October 10, 2018

Prescience: Helping doctors predict the future

Prescience on a computer screen

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new machine-learning system, called Prescience, which uses input from patient charts and standard operating room sensors to predict the likelihood that a patient will develop hypoxemia — a condition when blood oxygen levels dip slightly below normal. Prescience also provides real-world explanations behind its predictions.


October 9, 2018

Researchers develop 3D printed objects that can track and store how they are used

An e-NABLE hand with the bidirectional sensor on it

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed 3D printed devices that can track and store their use — without using batteries or electronics. Instead, this system uses a method called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it with an antenna.


October 1, 2018

Engineering lecture series focuses on engineering for social good

This fall, the University of Washington’s annual engineering lecture series will feature three College of Engineering faculty whose research is accelerating positive impact here and around the world.


September 27, 2018

Lunar library to include photos, books stored in DNA

A collage of family photographs

People who have submitted photos to the #MemoriesInDNA project have selected images of family members, favorite places and tasty food that will be preserved for years in the form of synthetic DNA. Now this collection will be headed to the final frontier: space.


September 12, 2018

Three UW teams receive TRIPODS+X grants for research in data science

The National Science Foundation announced on Sept. 11 that it is awarding grants totaling $8.5 million to 19 collaborative projects at 23 universities for the study of complex and entrenched problems in data science. Three of these projects will be based at the University of Washington and led by researchers in the College of Engineering and the College of Arts & Sciences.


August 21, 2018

Bus battle: Do private shuttles affect the reliability of public transit?

a bus on the street stopped at a bus stop

Last year, King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation started a pilot program that allowed Microsoft’s and Seattle Children’s Hospital’s private shuttles to pick up employees at a few public bus stops throughout Seattle. Now a recent study from researchers at the University of Washington suggests that public buses are unaffected by private shuttles most of the time.


August 15, 2018

Flying blind: How a drone can soar without using GPS

The team with their aircrafts

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new method that gives aircraft a backup system in case GPS fails: An antenna on the ground that can tell a drone where it is. The team successfully tested their system in June.


August 7, 2018

NIH awards University of Washington, partner institutions $6.5M for reusable, reproducible biomedical modeling

The NIH has awarded a $6.5 million, five-year grant to the University of Washington and partner institutions to establish the Center for Reproducible Biomedical Modeling. The center’s primary goal is to develop more effective predictive models of biological systems, which are used in research and medicine.


August 6, 2018

Alexa, be my friend: Children talk to technology, but how does it respond?

When young children talk to voice-activated technologies, the devices don’t always respond in a helpful way. A new University of Washington study suggests that these interfaces could be designed to be more responsive – repeating or prompting the user, for example – and be more useful to more people.


August 3, 2018

UW, PNNL to host energy research center focusing on bio-inspired design and assembly

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded an expected $10.75 million, four-year grant to the University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other partner institutions for a new interdisciplinary research center to define the enigmatic rules that govern how molecular-scale building blocks assemble into ordered structures and give rise to complex hierarchical materials.


July 25, 2018

And then there was (more) light: Researchers boost performance quality of perovskites

an image of an experimental disk

In a paper published online this spring in the journal Nature Photonics, scientists at the University of Washington report that a prototype semiconductor thin-film has performed even better than today’s best solar cell materials at emitting light.


July 2, 2018

Q&A: What can we learn from the hidden history of technology design?

Close up of the Arduino microcontroller on the quilt

University of Washington assistant professor of human centered design and engineering Daniela Rosner explores some hidden histories in technology design in her new book “Critical Fabulations.” The book highlights the idea that design stories from the past can show today’s designers how to create more inclusive technology.


June 28, 2018

UW professor and Clean Energy Institute director Daniel Schwartz wins highest U.S. award for STEM mentors

Daniel Schwartz, a University of Washington professor of chemical engineering and director of the Clean Energy Institute, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation this week.


May 15, 2018

STEM for All Video Showcase features six UW projects

  Family-focused science lessons, robotics for young children and touch-based programming for the visually impaired are among the University of Washington research videos featured in the STEM for All Video Showcase, funded by the National Science Foundation. The weeklong online event, in its fourth year, highlights more than 200 projects from universities around the country…


The first wireless flying robotic insect takes off

RoboFly in an engineer's hand

Engineers at the University of Washington have created RoboFly, the first wireless flying robotic insect. This might be one small flap for a robot, but it’s one giant leap for robot-kind.


May 3, 2018

Atomically thin magnetic device could lead to new memory technologies

A depiction of the crystal structure of chromium triiodide (CrI3), with chromium atoms shown in purple and iodine atoms in yellow. The black arrows represent the electron "spins," which are analogous to tiny bar magnets.

In a study published online May 3 in the journal Science, a University of Washington-led team announced that it has discovered a method to encode information using magnets that are just a few layers of atoms in thickness. This breakthrough may revolutionize both cloud computing technologies and consumer electronics by enabling data storage at a greater density and improved energy efficiency.


May 2, 2018

Researchers develop an app for crowdsourced exercise plans, which rival personal trainers in effectiveness

Image of a person walking

Researchers at the University of Washington and Seattle University have created CrowdFit, a platform for exercise planning that relies on crowdsourcing from nonexperts to create workout regimens guided by national exercise recommendations and tailored around user schedules and interests.


April 19, 2018

Researchers achieve HD video streaming at 10,000 times lower power

Saman with a camera prototype on his glasses

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a new HD video streaming method that doesn’t need to be plugged in. Their prototype skips the power-hungry components and has something else, like a smartphone, process the video instead.


April 18, 2018

Screen reader plus keyboard helps blind, low-vision users browse modern webpages

fingers above keyboard with computer screen above

By using a keyboard to provide tactile feedback along with with a screen reader, blind and low-vision users were three times more successful at navigating complex modern webpages, similar to a typical Airbnb booking site.


April 12, 2018

Peptide-based biogenic dental product may cure cavities

Tooth image

Researchers at the University of Washington have designed a convenient and natural product that uses proteins to rebuild tooth enamel and treat dental cavities.


March 15, 2018

With new ‘shuffling’ trick, researchers can measure gene activity in single cells

A drawing of cells being sorted.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have developed a new method to classify and track the multitude of cells in a tissue sample. In a paper published March 15 in the journal Science, the team reports that this new approach — known as SPLiT-seq — reliably tracks gene activity in a tissue down to the level of single cells.


March 8, 2018

‘Trump in the World’: Jackson School faculty give public talks through spring quarter

The UW Jackson School of International Studies presents “Trump in the World: International Implications of the Trump presidency,” a series of public lectures and discussions Tuesday afternoons through spring quarter.


February 22, 2018

Reducing failed deliveries, truck parking time could improve downtown Seattle congestion, new report finds

truck parked curbside

If online shopping continues to grow at its current rate, there may be twice as many trucks delivering packages in Seattle’s city center within five years, a new report projects — and double the number of trucks looking for a parking space.


February 20, 2018

Using a laser to wirelessly charge a smartphone safely across a room

Five people posing

Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time developed a method to safely charge a smartphone wirelessly using a laser.


February 12, 2018

Tissue paper sensors show promise for health care, entertainment, robotics

Glasses sensor

University of Washington engineers have turned tissue paper – similar to toilet tissue – into a new kind of wearable sensor that can detect a pulse, a blink of an eye and other human movement.


Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

A portion of the team’s experimental setup for capturing an image using a metalens. The researchers capture an image of flowers through a metalens (mounted on a microscope slide) and visualize it through a microscope.

In a paper published Feb. 9 in Science Advances, scientists at the University of Washington announced that they have successfully combined two different imaging methods — a type of lens designed for nanoscale interaction with lightwaves, along with robust computational processing — to create full-color images.


January 31, 2018

University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory team up to make the materials of tomorrow

The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington announced the creation of the Northwest Institute for Materials Physics, Chemistry and Technology — or NW IMPACT — a joint research endeavor to power discoveries and advancements in materials that transform energy, telecommunications, medicine, information technology and other fields.



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