The Exploratory Research Projects program at Iowa State’s College of Engineering is supporting faculty members as they gather preliminary data for high-risk, high-impact, novel research ideas. This spring, seven projects will receive grants to explore new research areas:
Vikram Dalal, Anson Marston Distinguished Professor and Whitney Professor of electrical and computer engineering, “Novel material for efficient and stable multi-junction solar cell device”
The project will investigate a photovoltaic device system based on cadmium selenide, or CdSe, that could increase the efficiency of crystalline-silicon solar cells by fifty percent. As solar energy continues to grow as a source of power used in the United States and around the world, efficiency in these solar cells will lead to lowering of the total system cost and improving the potential for using cleaner energy for the planet.
Stephen Gilbert, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, “Transportation stress modeling to design innovative controls and information” (Co-PIs: Anuj Sharma, associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering; Mingyi Hong, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering; Soumik Sarkar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Umesh Vaidya, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Michael Dorneich, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering)
This six-month research effort will model the stress drivers face on the road. Participants will be given a wearable stress measurement sensor and will be asked to drive in certain conditions, both in their own cars and in driving simulators. With a better way to study and monitor drivers’ stress, which causes short-term and long-term impacts, researchers can then examine ways to alleviate these problems.
Simon Laflamme, associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, “Flying Sensors for Structural Health Monitoring” (Co-PIs: Randal Geiger, Nicola Elia and Degang Chen, professors of electrical and computer engineering)
This project proposes a new way to look at wireless sensor networks for structural resilience evaluation (SRE). SRE assess and evaluates structural performance and different types of demand, such as natural hazards, through networks of sensors. These researchers are proposing to utilize flying sensors based on drone technology, which will result in safer infrastructure and lowered costs of operation and maintenance.
Leifur Leifsson, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, “Optimal blade design for dynamic stall mitigation of unmanned aerial systems” (Co-PI: Anupam Sharma, assistant professor of aerospace engineering)
Leifsson and Sharma want to create a passive mechanism and optimal blade designs for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly helicopters. The innovation is inspired by the majestic and powerful humpback whale and offers a rigorous method that will help with dynamic stall and catastrophic and fatigue failure in these vehicles, improving their operation, durability and safety.
Meng Lu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering, “A wearable patient monitoring system based on noninvasive epidermal biosensors, multi-sensor data fusion, and predictive decision making” (Co-PI: Yong Guan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering)
This project will explore a wearable sensor technology that will continuously and predictively monitor a patient for symptoms of heart failure. The device will integrate state-of-the-art flexible electronic biosensors and data processing algorithms to provide a non-invasive and less expensive option for health care.
Zengyi Shao, assistant professors of chemical and biological engineering and of electrical and computer engineering, “Integrated photoelectromicrobial cell for efficient artificial photosynthesis” (Co-PIs: Wenzhen Li, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Meng Lu, assistant professor electrical and computer engineering)
Shao will examine a way to incorporate photoelectrochemistry and advanced microbial manufacturing to efficiently convert water and solar energy, both abundant resources, to important compounds such as biofuels, biopolymers and building block chemicals. This project will provide insights of the interactions among photochemistry, electrocatalysis and microbial engineering, and it will also advance artificial photosynthesis to make it more efficient.
Qun Wang, adjunct assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, “Intestinal cartography of space, time and environment impacts through miniguts” (Co-PIs: Eric Cochran, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering; Yue Wu, Herbert L. Styles associate professor of chemical and biological engineering; Gregory Phillips, professor of veterinary microbiology & preventive medicine, Albert Jergens, professor of veterinary clinical sciences)
Wang looks to establish ‘Intestinal Cartography’ as an entirely new field to help generate solutions that improve gastrointestinal (GI) health, a medical area that impacts roughly 40 percent of Americans. Intestinal Cartography will lead to better knowledge about how space, time and environment impact how guts function, ultimately offering insight into how to best provide personalized treatment to patients.