A team including Pitt CRC collaborator John Keith has developed a liquid polymer — a large molecule created by joining many smaller molecules — that solidifies when mixed with water at room temperature, in effect raising the water’s freezing point from 32 degrees Fahrenheit to roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit,
This phenomenon seems to defy the second law of thermodynamics, explains Keith, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering and Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering..
“When you mix two pure components together, the entropy (or the degree of disorder), always increases. That disorder almost always causes mixtures to have a lower freezing point than either of the components individually, not higher.”
This time lapse video shows the polymer (known as polyoxacyclobutanewater) mixing with water during a 24-hour period in room temperature conditions. (Courtesy of Sachin Velankar, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering and a collaborator on the project.)
Pitt researchers aim to reduce annual diesel fuel consumption of Port Authority buses by 800,000 gallons with thermoelectric devices inside exhaust pipes that will recover waste heat to produce electricity to power the buses' electrical systems, reducing carbon-based fuel consumption by reusing a by-product of carbon-based fuel. Co-PIs on the project are Matthew Barry, assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS), and Shervin Sammak, research assistant professor in MEMS and a Pitt CRC consultant. At left, Sammak points out the exhaust pipes located on the top of the bus. Below, Sammak and Barry discuss mass transit, bus exhaust and waste heat with Andrew Lukaszewicz, PAT interim director of rail service delivery.
Computational flow cytometry offers new possibilities to researchers at Pitt with the acquisition of the Cytek Aurora model, which identifies thousands of cells with disease indicators per second, twice the capacity of existing technology. Pitt CRC customized data pipelines that automate the analysis.
At left, Lisa Borghesi, PhD, scientific director of the Unified Flow Core, points out the powerful lasers within the cytometer. Below, graduate student Theresa Whiter fits a sample of mutated cells into the cytometer. The Unified Flow Core is presenting lectures and workshops on computational flow cytometry through mid-December. For schedule and registration, go to: https://hsls.libguides.com/flow.
This simulation was chosen for the cover of the September 2018 issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Catalysis Science & Technology, accompanying the paper "The effect of topology in Lewis pair functionalized metal organic frameworks on CO2 adsorption and hydrogenation" by Pitt CRC associate director J. Karl Johnson, PhD, with co-authors Jingyun Ye and Lin Li.
Dr. Johnson, associate director at Pitt CRC and William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, explains the research. "We are identifying the potential of two metal organic frameworks (MOFs) - compounds of metal ions grouped in clusters. These compounds have the potential to be used for both CO2 capture from exhaust gas, and for catalytic conversion of CO2 into valuable chemicals."
Left: Design of a nano-material capable of separating CO2 (in red and gray) from N2 molecules (blue) and also capable of causing a catalytic reaction of CO2 with hydrogen molecules to produce formic acid, a valuable precursor molecule for synthesis of fuels.
Students step into science by identifying and naming thousands of bacteriophages - viruses that attack bacteria - as part of the SEA-PHAGES program headed up by Pitt biologist Graham Hatfull. CRC powers the sequencing and analysis of a sliver of the billions-plus-strong, ever-changing population of bacteriophages. “Bacteria and phages are locked in a 3-billion year war,” Hatfull says simply. “Dynamic populations have been evolving for a long time, and they keep evolving.”
Left, Pitt students Aishwarya Mukundan and Daniel Zipfel hunt for phages in Pitt's SEA-PHAGE lab. Below: phages armed for battle. Image by Travis Mavrich in the Hatfull lab.
With CRC support, James Pipas and Paul Cantalupo analyze virus genomes found in mosquitoes - and in the blood meal mosquitoes draw from their prey. The mosquitoes are located, trapped, and identified using advanced drones and robotic traps in Texas, the Caribbean island of Grenada, and Tanzania. It is all part of Project Premonition, a global effort led by Microsoft Research to identify existing and emerging viruses.
CRC high-performance computing resources enhance the productivity of Pitt researchers - and help improve teaching. Pitt CRC research faculty consultants serve as a resource for faculty members to explore new methods to enrich student learning while preparing them for careers.
"Teaching and learning enhance CRC’s computing research mission. We play a role in helping grow the research community from the ground up."
- Barry Moore II, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Center for Research Computing