No. 5, Winter 2020
Director's Message:

Happy new year! I hope you had a restful and fun winter break!
I wanted to put a few things on your calendar:

  • Check out the newly redesigned PME Website!
  • The 2020 FORUM (our annual event where industry gets a chance to interact with students and faculty in an informal, low-key setting) will be May 14, 2020 (Thursday). May 15 will be reserved for tours of our instrumentation facilities and any follow up meetings. There will be panels on opportunities to plug into the campus community, soft skills development, and student/postdoc high level talks on PME themes and research topics. This event is open to the public. Keep an eye out for the invitation and registration in the next few weeks!

  • There will be an Industry Seminar series on Fridays, starting February 21st. The idea is to make it easier for industry to connect with faculty, students and resources by telling the PME community a bit about themselves, how they got there, what their company does, interesting challenges they faced, and lessons learned.

Our first speaker will be David Hurst from Orbital Technologies who will talk about what it takes to make Chicago have a stronger space technologies footprint. The 2nd speaker the following week will be Dr. Ian Glomski from Vitae Spirits who is the founder of his own distillery and will talk about distillation and his experience building a startup craft distillery. Watch for the reminders through emails and on the ERC video screens! The 3rd speaker will be Ken Savin from Novecept, who will talk about the International Space Station as a national laboratory and interesting aspects of it. Our 4th speaker will be Arthur Curran, from Citris and Allied Essences, and will talk about the science and safety of flavor ingredients.

* For industry - is IP a sticking point? Ask about our new industry friendly IP policy being set up by Jay Schrankler, the new head of the Polsky Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have!

Felix Lu
Director of Corporate Engagement
The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering
PME Industry seminar series
Listen to their experiences and talk with them about their business, science and industry.
Seminar times are Fridays at 3:00 pm in ERC 201B or 301B. Announcements will be made before the seminar. This event is open to the public.

03/06 Ken Savin ( Novecept )

04/10 Arthur Curran ( Citrus and Allied Essences )

04/17 TBD

05/08 Marcello Cavallaro (W.L. Gore )

05/29 TBD
Join our PME / Industry linkedIn Group to get occasional updates and interesting articles!
Newly redesigned PME website

Check out the new PME website! It has been updated to better convey timely information more effectively.

GRADUCon - Friday, April 3rd, 2020 @ Ida Noyes Hall
GRADUCon is the university’s annual spring career conference for graduate students, postdocs, and recent graduate alumni. The event features a full day of distinguished guest speakers, panel discussions, and informal networking sessions. For students - by participating alumni! Questions? Ask Brianna Konnick!
Dr. Briana Konnick, Associate Director of Graduate Student Career Development
Graduate Student Internships

Are you looking for interns with a highly developed laboratory and/or computational skill set? We are encouraging our 3rd and 4th year PhD students who are curious about industrial positions to seek out internships with companies. Companies can help by providing contact points and a description of the position. Please send any questions or solicitations to Felix .
Additionally, companies that are actively working with faculty can discuss getting NSF funding for graduate student internships by applying for it through the normal faculty led proposals.

Quantum Engineering News
In two papers published in Science and Science Advances, Awschalom’s group demonstrated they could electrically control quantum states embedded in silicon carbide. The breakthrough could offer a means to more easily design and build quantum electronics—in contrast to using exotic materials scientists usually need to use for quantum experiments, such as superconducting metals, levitated atoms or diamonds. [ Uchicago link]
“Inaugurating this quantum loop is a significant step for Chicago and the nation in building a large-scale quantum network that can enable secure data transmissions over long distances,” said principal investigator David Awschalom, senior scientist in the Materials Science Division at Argonne, Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange. ​“The loop will enable us to identify and address challenges in operating a quantum network and can be scaled to test and demonstrate communication across even greater distances to help lay the foundation for a quantum internet.” [ ANL link]
It’s complex problems like these that the Pritzker School for Molecular Engineering—the first of its kind to focus on this emerging field—was set up to solve. And it’s the kind of innovative research that Galli, a theorist who uses computational models to figure out the behavior of molecules and materials, is helping tackle through her pioneering work.

The focus of Galli’s studies is to understand and predict how to harness molecular behavior to improve technology, particularly in the areas of purifying water, speeding up computation and sensing with quantum technology, and perfecting renewable energy technology.

“Essentially, we predict how atoms arrange themselves,” explained Galli, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at UChicago. “We do this by developing theoretical algorithms and powerful codes and simulations in order to understand the quantum mechanics at play in a given material.” [ UChicago Link]
Jay Schrankler, Associate Vice President and Head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Jay Schrankler is the associate vice president and head of the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In this role, he leads all operations of the Polsky Center and works closely with both University leadership and external partners to advance the University’s innovation and partnership strategy related to entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.
What is InnovationFest?

InnovationFest is a month long recognition of the chain of activities that enables innovation. Typically, this is a series of events celebrating discovery, highlighting supporting factors, talent, networking and infrastructure.

Use this as an opportunity to participate in interesting talks, network with a different crowd, and learn about a new topic! More details to come!
MAPI will be hosting an event on 3D printing in early June 2020 through the Polsky Center. Stay Tuned for details!
Articles of interest to our corporate affiliates, but not associated with the University of Chicago

These highly fluorinated synthetic chemicals are used in greaseproof food packaging, non-stick surfaces and water- and stain-resistant textiles, and have been produced around the world since the 1940s. However, the compounds are mobile and extremely persistent and research has linked some of them to significant health problems including reduced immune function, cancer, birth defects and fertility problems.
Editor's note: Hacha Products mentioned in the article is a company that has been actively engaged with the PME and other university resources.

Enterprises that use water in manufacturing processes – or simply pass water through their facilities – have a new legal threat: Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances, a class of more than 4,000 man-made chemicals known collectively as PFAS.

These chemicals have been added to consumer and industrial products since the 1940s, ranging from the production of nonstick cookware and food packaging, to stain-resistant fabrics and firefighting foam.

Recent studies indicate that PFAS exposure in humans can affect the immune system, increase the risk of prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers, as well as affect birth weight, growth, learning, and behaviour of infants and older children, lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, and disrupt the body’s thyroid hormones. Unfortunately, PFAS chemicals are extremely persistent so they will ‘bioaccumulate’ in human tissue over many years.

The finickiness of spices is another off-putting component of curry sauce construction for a newbie. You can’t always just buy all the spices listed in a recipe dried and pre-ground, chuck them in with everything else at the same time in the slow cooker and return to a delicious meal eight hours later. I’ve tried. But why not? The simplest answer is: because chemistry says so. To form, and retain, the right flavour molecules in the end product, everything needs to be just so during the cooking process.

Let’s start with dried herbs and spices – can we use them as a substitute for fresh? ‘It depends on the spice: some of them definitely work better than others,’ answers Joanna Buckley, a chemist from the University of Sheffield, UK. During drying, flavour molecules can evaporate or undergo chemical transformations. ‘Oregano dries really well because its particular flavour molecules aren’t degraded,’ says Buckley. But she is no fan of dried chives.

The article reprinted here stands on its own, of course, but it can also be seen as a crucial contribution to a debate that began in 1977, when Harvard Business School professor Abraham Zaleznik published an HBR article with the deceptively mild title “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?” The piece caused an uproar in business schools. It argued that the theoreticians of scientific management, with their organizational diagrams and time-and-motion studies, were missing half the picture—the half filled with inspiration, vision, and the full spectrum of human drives and desires. The study of leadership hasn’t been the same since.

“What Leaders Really Do,” first published in 1990, deepens and extends the insights of the 1977 article. Introducing one of those brand-new ideas that seems obvious once it’s expressed, retired Harvard Business School professor John Kotter proposes that management and leadership are different but complementary, and that in a changing world, one cannot function without the other. He then enumerates and contrasts the primary tasks of the manager and the leader. His key point bears repeating: Managers promote stability while leaders press for change, and only organizations that embrace both sides of that contradiction can thrive in turbulent times.

The ultrasonic atomizer from Polish company Amazemet is capable of creating powdered 3D printer feedstocks from a variety of different source materials. Pure elements, pre-alloyed material, failed prints and other waste can all be easily processed by the system and recycled into fine metal powder. First developed in 2016 at  Warsaw University of Technology (WUT), for the past three years the spinout team at Amazemet have been working to refine the process ready for commercialization.

Packaging for frozen foods is unique because it must prevent altered degradative processes and rates. In the frozen environment, some degradative reactions are reduced, but others increase or are unique to frozen products. Lipid oxidation, browning, nutrient loss, and microbial growth often slow at freezing temperatures.

This decrease in the reaction rates allows for some products to have less packaging and fewer preservatives. For example, frozen ground beef sold in a chubstyle package requires a lower package barrier than ground beef that will be stored at refrigerated conditions. Likewise, the product’s shelf life is longer while frozen than while refrigerated.
Tiny water droplets reveal minimum number of molecules to make ice

Ice crystals can only form in nanodroplets with at least 90 molecules, scientists have discovered. The tiny water clusters don’t freeze like bulk water, but rapidly oscillate between a crystalline, solid-like and disordered, liquid-like state around their freezing temperature.
Despite being a ubiquitous liquid, water keeps on surprising scientists. It has a plethora of solid and liquid forms, and shows unusual behaviour when confined to microdroplets – like spontaneously generating hydrogen peroxide.

Innovation labs, technology scouting outposts, and accelerator programs to invest in startups have become ubiquitous in large companies, as have regularly-scheduled hackathons or idea challenges that invite employees to develop and pitch new ideas. Yet, in some companies, all of that activity adds up to nothing more than “ innovation theater.” In others, it actually yields a stream of internal improvements; new products and services; experiments with different business models; and investments in fledgling companies that are connecting with new customer segments.

What’s different in these two groups?

A junior researcher who gets their name on a paper with a top scientist receives a competitive advantage that lasts throughout their entire career, and gives them a better chance of becoming a highly cited scientist themselves. But it’s young academics at less prestigious institutions who have the most to gain from top co-authors.

The study by researchers at University College London looked at a pool of over 22,000 scientists from chemistry, physics, cell biology and neuroscience whose careers began between 1980 and 1998, have lasted 20 years or more, have at least 10 publications and who’ve published at least once every five years. In this pool of senior scientists, the probability of one being amongst the top 5% of cited authors in their discipline was almost one in four.

"A good thermoelectric material must show a strong Seebeck effect, and it has to meet two important requirements that are difficult to reconcile," says Prof. Ernst Bauer from the Institute of Solid State Physics at TU Wien. "On the one hand, it should conduct electricity as well as possible; on the other hand, it should transport heat as poorly as possible. This is a challenge because electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity are usually closely related."

At the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Thermoelectricity, which Ernst Bauer established at TU Wien in 2013, different thermoelectric materials for different applications have been studied over the last few years. This research has now led to the discovery of a particularly remarkable material—a combination of iron, vanadium, tungsten and aluminium.
Isochoric Freezing: A New Technology for Food Preservation
Freezing at atmospheric pressures is one of the main processes employed by the food industry for long-term preservation and storage. Low temperatures and crystallization of water during freezing slow down deterioration reactions and inhibit growth of spoilage microorganism and pathogens. However, ice formation during freezing degrades the quality of the thawed food and reduces the consumer approval for these frozen foods. Isochoric freezing is an innovative freezing technology that can significantly improve the quality of frozen foods. The key element is the thermodynamic conditions in which freezing occurs. Traditional freezing occurs at a constant atmospheric pressure, whereas isochoric freezing occurs at constant volume.

Researchers at the University of Sussex have developed a glue which can unstick when placed in a magnetic field, meaning products otherwise destined for landfill, could now be dismantled and recycled at the end of their life.

Currently, items like mobile phones, microwaves and car dashboards are assembled using adhesives. It is a quick and relatively cheap way to make products but, due to problems dismantling the various materials for different recycling methods, most of these products will be destined for landfill.
Different ways to explore interactions with the PME:
  • senior design projects
  • internships
  • materials characterization /device fabrication facilities
  • participation in FORUM events
  • give an industry seminar!
  • Ask Felix!
Parking on campus
You are welcome to park for free on certain streets if you can find it. The closest parking lot to the Eckhardt Research Center is the North parking lot located at the SE corner of 55th St and South Ellis Ave.