Main Content

You are here

Physical Sciences

Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds

Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.

Metal-ion catalysts and hydrogen peroxide could green up plastics production

Researchers at the University of Illinois are contributing to the development of more environmentally friendly catalysts for the production of plastic and resin precursors that are often derived from fossil fuels. The key to their technique comes from recognizing the unique physical and chemical properties of certain metals and how they react with hydrogen peroxide.

Increased number of female engineers in managerial roles brings unintended consequences

Increased female representation in the managerial ranks of engineering organizations may add another layer of sex segregation on top of the one it’s intended to mitigate, says a new paper from U. of I. labor professor M. Teresa Cardador.

Sensors detect disease markers in breath

A small, thin square of an organic plastic that can detect disease markers in breath or toxins in a building’s air could soon be the basis of portable, disposable sensor devices. By riddling the thin plastic films with pores, University of Illinois researchers made the devices sensitive enough to detect at levels that are far too low to smell, yet are important to human health.

Would a laptop and tablet ban enhance air travel security?

Computer science professor Sheldon H. Jacobson discusses the proposed Department of Homeland Security ban of laptop and tablet computers in the passenger cabins of certain flights.

Study: Higher mass transit use associated with lower obesity rates

Healthy mass transit systems could contribute to healthier communities, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers that determined higher mass transit use was correlated with lower obesity rates in counties across the United States.

Self-healing tech charges up performance for silicon-containing battery anodes

Researchers at the University of Illinois have found a way to apply self-healing technology to lithium-ion batteries to make them more reliable and last longer.

Electroplating delivers high-energy, high-power batteries

The process that makes gold-plated jewelry or chrome car accents is now making powerful lithium-ion batteries.

‘Molecular prosthetics’ can replace missing proteins to treat disease

Researchers have demonstrated that a small molecule can transport iron in human cells and live animals when proteins that normally do the same job are missing, a condition that often causes severe anemia in patients. Such “molecular prosthetics” might treat a host of incurable diseases caused by protein deficiencies, such as anemias, cystic fibrosis or certain types of heart disease.

Researchers develop transistors that can switch between two stable energy states

Engineers are unveiling an upgrade to the transistor laser that could be used to boost computer processor speeds – the formation of two stable energy states and the ability to switch between them quickly.