Science Café Program

The LRSM, through the NSF-supported Penn MRSEC, continues a series of Science Cafés that began in 2011 to promote NOVA’s four part TV series on materials, ‘Making Stuff with David Pogue,’ on public television. The Science Cafés, which are science talks for laymen about materials-related topic of current interest, will take place at 7:30 pm at Stoney’s British Pub, 3007 Concord Pike, Wilmington DE and The Black Sheep Pub, 247 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, at 6:00 pm.

These programs are free and anyone who is interested is invited to attend. No purchase is necessary.

For further information contact:

Andrew R. McGhie at
215-898-6461
mcghie@lrsm.upenn.edu

Current Schedule

February 24, 2020
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Douglas Durian / The Physics of Foam Douglas Durian
Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania
The Physics of Foam
 

It’s easy to foam up soapy water, but not to understand the surprising properties of foam. How can it be white and solid when it’s made mostly of gas and a little liquid, neither of which is white or solid? Douglas Durian will explain how foams change over time and some of the excitement they offer as a modern research topic in fundamental physics and mathematics.


February 19, 2020
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Shu Yang / Creating Smart Textiles Shu Yang
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
Creating Smart Textiles
 

Wearable technology is poised to explode in the next decade. As flexible electronic devices have begun to be incorporated into clothing, there are pressing needs to develop sustainable digital fabrication techniques and functional materials to create smart textiles that could can response environmental changes and embed personal health information.

Here, I will present our work on fabrication of polymer fibers and meter-long yarns with embedded chemical receptors and selective wettability, which can be knitted, embroidered or weaved into wearable prototypes. By control of surface chemistry of the fibers, we demonstrate selective wettability of the yarns, which wicks aqueous solutions, and change colors in response to humidity, pH, and electrolytes. By selective embedding of functional yarns into different geometries, we create multi-sensors and “blooming” flowers that can response to UV light intensity, temperatures, and electrical fields.


January 27, 2020
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Jason Burdick / Advances in 3D Printing for Medical Applications Jason Burdick
Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania
Advances in 3D Printing for Medical Applications
 

3D printing is a technology that is now revolutionizing many fields, particularly in the manufacturing of materials with desired shapes and structures, often through layer-by-layer fabrication approaches. It is now even feasible to have 3D printers in our homes, using open-source software and low-cost materials. One area where 3D printing is now making an impact is in the treatment of patients. This includes the construction of prosthetic devices, the fabrication of hard implants (particularly in dentistry and orthopedics), and the design of surgical guides and models. This field is now evolving towards 3D BIOprinting, where materials are combined with cells towards the fabrication of biological structures that may be useful in the repair and regeneration of tissues, or as disease models for applications in drug screening. In this presentation, I will discuss general advances in 3D printing in medicine, as well as the various 3D printing techniques that are being developed in this area. Further, I will focus on how 3D printing is now being advanced to fabricate complex biological tissues with the potential as patient therapies.


January 21, 2020
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Ashley Kennedy / Living Materials: What the ‘Insect Apocalypse’ Means for You and Your Yard Ashley Kennedy
Postdoctoral Fellow, United States Army Public Health Center
Living Materials: What the ‘Insect Apocalypse’ Means for You and Your Yard
 

Numerous studies from around the world suggest that insect populations are currently in decline. This in turn affects birds who rely on insects as food, especially during the breeding season. To determine which insects are most important in bird diets, I conducted a citizen science project to crowd-source images of birds with their arthropod prey. More than 7,000 photos were contributed by participants across North America, demonstrating that caterpillars are the preferred prey for most terrestrial breeding birds. Come learn how you can help reverse alarming trends in arthropod and bird populations by converting your yard into better wildlife habitat for these groups!


December 18, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Jason Burdick / Advances in 3D Printing for Medical Applications Jason Burdick
Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania
Advances in 3D Printing for Medical Applications
 

3D printing is a technology that is now revolutionizing many fields, particularly in the manufacturing of materials with desired shapes and structures, often through layer-by-layer fabrication approaches. It is now even feasible to have 3D printers in our homes, using open-source software and low-cost materials. One area where 3D printing is now making an impact is in the treatment of patients. This includes the construction of prosthetic devices, the fabrication of hard implants (particularly in dentistry and orthopedics), and the design of surgical guides and models. This field is now evolving towards 3D BIOprinting, where materials are combined with cells towards the fabrication of biological structures that may be useful in the repair and regeneration of tissues, or as disease models for applications in drug screening. In this presentation, I will discuss general advances in 3D printing in medicine, as well as the various 3D printing techniques that are being developed in this area. Further, I will focus on how 3D printing is now being advanced to fabricate complex biological tissues with the potential as patient therapies.


December 9, 2019
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


Ashley Kennedy / Living Materials: What the ‘Insect Apocalypse’ Means for You and Your Yard Ashley Kennedy
Postdoctoral Fellow, United States Army Public Health Center
Living Materials: What the ‘Insect Apocalypse’ Means for You and Your Yard
 

Numerous studies from around the world suggest that insect populations are currently in decline. This in turn affects birds who rely on insects as food, especially during the breeding season. To determine which insects are most important in bird diets, I conducted a citizen science project to crowd-source images of birds with their arthropod prey. More than 7,000 photos were contributed by participants across North America, demonstrating that caterpillars are the preferred prey for most terrestrial breeding birds. Come learn how you can help reverse alarming trends in arthropod and bird populations by converting your yard into better wildlife habitat for these groups!


November 20, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Zahra Fakhraai / Slowing Time to Make Burn-Resistant Polymers Zahra Fakhraai
Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania
Slowing Time to Make Burn-Resistant Polymers
 

Most polymers, long-chain molecules, burn when exposed to heat by breaking into smaller bits and then reacting with oxygen. This process can rapidly accelerate as the chains break into shorter bits and generate fires, leaving behind a black goo of carbonized material. This is a major problem for using some commodity polymers in building materials, batteries, and other applications where the polymer can become really hot. By confining the polymers into a film of nanoparticles, we can slow-down the motion of the polymer as well as oxygen motion into the polymer. This process effectively slows down time for the system, reducing the rate at which the chain can interact with oxygen and make it impossible for the polymer to catch fire.


November 18, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Thomas E. Mallouk / How Do You Make a Micro-Robot? Thomas E. Mallouk
University of Pennsylvania
How Do You Make a Micro-Robot?
 

Engines and motors are everywhere in the modern world, but it is a challenge to make them work if they are very small. On the micron length scale, inertial forces are weak and so conventional motor designs involving, e.g., pistons or flywheels cease to function. Biological motors work by a different principle and use catalysis to convert chemical to mechanical energy. Together with Ayusman Sen and other colleagues at Penn and Penn State we are exploring the use of chemical forces to power synthetic microswimmers and pumps. This talk will describe some of the unexpected lessons learned in pursuing this simple idea, as well as emerging applications.


October 28, 2019
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Eric A. Stach / Negative Emissions Technologies for a Carbon-Neutral World Eric A. Stach
University of Pennsylvania
Negative Emissions Technologies for a Carbon-Neutral World
 

Despite global efforts to limit terrestrial warming to 1.5°C (or perhaps 2.0°C), there is increasing evidence that this goal will not likely be met. This places increased emphasis on the development of new technologies to actively capture CO2 emissions in an effort to remove them from the atmosphere. In this presentation, I will talk about research and development needs for specific technologies that are being pursued to convert CO2 to useful chemicals. This is just one part of what must be done, but it represents an interesting convergence of multiple science and engineering challenges and hopefully will be an interesting discussion for a Science Café!


October 15, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Thomas E. Mallouk / How Do You Make a Micro-Robot? Thomas E. Mallouk
University of Pennsylvania
How Do You Make a Micro-Robot?
 

Engines and motors are everywhere in the modern world, but it is a challenge to make them work if they are very small. On the micron length scale, inertial forces are weak and so conventional motor designs involving, e.g., pistons or flywheels cease to function. Biological motors work by a different principle and use catalysis to convert chemical to mechanical energy. Together with Ayusman Sen and other colleagues at Penn and Penn State we are exploring the use of chemical forces to power synthetic microswimmers and pumps. This talk will describe some of the unexpected lessons learned in pursuing this simple idea, as well as emerging applications.


September 11, 2019
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Ritesh Agarwal / Silicon Nanophotonics: Using Light to Speed up Computers Ritesh Agarwal
University oof Pennsylvania
Silicon Nanophotonics: Using Light to Speed up Computers
 

In this talk I will briefly review the amazing progress made in the area of computer technology outlining some key advances leading to the development of modern computers. However, in order to continue the same rate of progress, we have to find new ways to make Silicon, a workhorse material in our computers perform new tricks or be able to integrate new technologies on a Silicon platform. This also includes new materials and devices that can perform the functions required for quantum computing technologies. I will motivate the use of light in making our computers faster and to do so, we will have to learn how to make Silicon emit light and perform basic computing functions, especially at the nanoscale. We will also discuss how more information can be encoded in light to assemble optical communication systems that can process much more information than what is possible with current technologies. Some of the ideas that are being pursued in my research group in enabling Silicon-based nanophotonics will be discussed along with how such nanodevices can also be used for quantum computers.


September 9, 2019
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Erin Crowgey / Translational Bioinformatics and Genomics Erin Crowgey
Nemours Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children
Translational Bioinformatics and Genomics
 

Precision medicine continues to be a driving force for utilizing complex genomic data at the bedside, and analyses of these high-density data requires high-performance computing workflows. Advancements in DNA sequencing technology and computing capabilities have propelled the use of genetic and genomic data in precision medicine efforts. The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (NCCBD) is actively developing new techniques in genomic sequencing that are enabling the diagnosis of rare diseases and improving our understanding of pediatric cancers. Dr. Crowgey will present on these translational research efforts and how bioinformatics is driving new technologies.


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Check out some past lectures on our Video Channel