Physicists and engineers at Case Western Reserve University, including Umut Gurkan, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, have developed an optical sensor, based on nanostructured metamaterials, that’s 1 million times more sensitive than the current best available—one capable of identifying a single lightweight molecule in a highly dilute solution.
Their goal: to provide oncologists a way to detect a single molecule of an enzyme produced by circulating cancer cells. Such detection could allow doctors to diagnose patients with certain cancers far earlier than possible today, monitor treatment and resistance and more.
Daniel Lacks, the C. Benson Branch Professor of Chemical Engineering, has been named chair of the Case School of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
Lacks has been a member of the Case School of Engineering faculty for 13 years. His research interests lie in molecular simulation of materials, and he has emerged as a leading figure in the university’s international efforts and influence. He created a unique study abroad opportunity for engineering students that allowed them to take one of their core course, thermodynamics, in Botswana, where they could see the principles brought to life in real-world scenarios. In addition to teaching formal courses abroad, he has taken dozens of students to perform solar panel installations in developing countries like Lesotho and Namibia. He was also the first western faculty member to visit an engineering school in Myanmar, where he played a key role in updating the country’s engineering curriculum and taught the first U.S. course in the country’s history after it reopened to the world following 50 years of political and academic isolation.
Four leading research universities are joining forces to accelerate innovations to address challenges and opportunities facing the energy sector.
Case Western Reserve University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University are forming the Tri-State University Energy Alliance.
The universities have agreed to work more closely to align their individual and collective expertise for research, technology commercialization, partnerships with industry and more.
Frank Ernst, Leonard Case Jr. Professor, has been named chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
After graduating with a PhD from the University of Göttingen, Germany, Ernst first came to the Case School of Engineering as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 1987. He returned to Germany, his native country, in 1989, where he spent the next 12 years working as a researcher for the Max-Planck-Institut für Metallforschung in Stuttgart and as a lecturer at the University of Stuttgart, before returning to Case Western Reserve in 2000 as a professor of materials science.
Case Western Reserve University startup CrystalE is about to make some serious pitches—the student-run company will be vying for titles in the Clean Energy Trust Challenge and the Rice Business Plan Competition this spring.
The team will be introducing judges to their self-powered sensors for building monitoring. The sensors are capable of tracking data like temperature and humidity and reporting that information to a centralized computer system that can adjust lighting systems, heating and cooling accordingly to improve overall energy efficiency.