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

May 21, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Erich Stach / Understanding the Structure of Materials Atom By Atom Erich Stach
Materials Science & Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
Understanding the Structure of Materials Atom By Atom
 

Every material is composed of building blocks of atoms: the arrangement in space and the chemical bonds that hold them together are what give materials their specific properties. I will talk about how we use a special type of microscope – a transmission electron microscope – to take pictures of atoms, and to understand the chemical bonds that hold them together. These microscopes are very fascinating instruments (and very expensive and sensitive too), so I will describe how they work, the types of sophisticated environments they need and how at Penn we are installing 3 absolutely world-class instruments at the Singh Nanotechnology Center to advance our understanding of a broad range of man-made and biologically engineered systems.


May 16, 2018
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Arjun G. Yodh / Coffee Rings Arjun G. Yodh
Physics & Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
Coffee Rings
 

In this talk, I will discuss the science needed to understand a drying drop of coffee. We will see that even this very simple effect depends on many factors, ranging from water evaporation and fluid convection within the drop, to tension at the air-water surface and pinning of the liquid-solid contact line onto the counter-top. This rich phenomenology is also important for practical applications related to coatings, printing, painting, and even genotyping. I will describe a series simple drying experiments, on increasingly more complex fluids, that reveal the zoology of physics ideas underlying this everyday occurrence.


April 26, 2018
The Black Sheep Pub

247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Lee Bassett / The Rise of Quantum Machines Lee Bassett
Assistant Professor, Electrical & Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
The Rise of Quantum Machines
 

The semiconductor device components in our pockets are rapidly approaching the atomic scale, reflecting our astounding ability to construct almost anything we wish from the materials of our choice.  For years, physicists and engineers have dreamed of leveraging that ability to build machines that exploit the strange laws of quantum mechanics, where information exists in an indeterminate state prior to measurement and has a capacity that scales exponentially with the number of quantum components.  Now that future has arrived – rudimentary quantum computers exist in research labs around the world, and companies large and small are racing to develop the technology.  Despite some hype, there is plenty of reason for excitement. Lee Bassett, director of Penn’s Quantum Engineering Laboratory, will discuss the basic physics underlying these new machines and their promise.


April 16, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Lee Bassett / The Rise of Quantum Machines Lee Bassett
Assistant Professor, Electrical & Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
The Rise of Quantum Machines
 

The semiconductor device components in our pockets are rapidly approaching the atomic scale, reflecting our astounding ability to construct almost anything we wish from the materials of our choice.  For years, physicists and engineers have dreamed of leveraging that ability to build machines that exploit the strange laws of quantum mechanics, where information exists in an indeterminate state prior to measurement and has a capacity that scales exponentially with the number of quantum components.  Now that future has arrived – rudimentary quantum computers exist in research labs around the world, and companies large and small are racing to develop the technology.  Despite some hype, there is plenty of reason for excitement. Lee Bassett, director of Penn’s Quantum Engineering Laboratory, will discuss the basic physics underlying these new machines and their promise.


March 26, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Andrew R. McGhie / Lost Wax Bronze Casting - Yesterday and Today Andrew R. McGhie
Associate Director Emeritus, LRSM, University of Pennsylvania
Lost Wax Bronze Casting - Yesterday and Today
 

This talk will cover the science behind the lost wax bronze casting process for a public statue and go through the complete process from the making of a maquette to the erection of the finished sculpture. Bronze casting started approximately 5,000 years ago and essentially goes through the same process today although modern materials have replaced Tin/Copper bronze and new ceramic shell technology has replaced clay. The more recent lost wax process has enabled multiple casting to be made from the original sculpture. Computer controlled milling has also enabled rapid enlargement of the maquette, reducing this process to hours instead of days. The whole process however can still take from weeks to months to complete.


March 14, 2018

The Black Sheep Pub
247 S. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103


6:00pm
Erich Stach / Understanding the Structure of Materials Atom By Atom Erich Stach
Materials Science & Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
Understanding the Structure of Materials Atom By Atom
 

Every material is composed of building blocks of atoms: the arrangement in space and the chemical bonds that hold them together are what give materials their specific properties. I will talk about how we use a special type of microscope – a transmission electron microscope – to take pictures of atoms, and to understand the chemical bonds that hold them together. These microscopes are very fascinating instruments (and very expensive and sensitive too), so I will describe how they work, the types of sophisticated environments they need and how at Penn we are installing 3 absolutely world-class instruments at the Singh Nanotechnology Center to advance our understanding of a broad range of man-made and biologically engineered systems.


February 26, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington DE


7:30pm
Dr. Sylvia Stevenson / How to Print Everything Else Dr. Sylvia Stevenson
DuPont Advanced Printing
How to Print Everything Else
 

We’re all familiar with home and office printing on paper or photo-paper. And we’re hazily familiar with the concept of printing magazines, books, and newspapers. But what about everything else? What about all the items on the grocery store shelf that not only come in printed packages, but come in printed packages that include text, graphics, photo-quality images, and modern, vivid colors, AND look exactly identical? How is the printing done? Why does today’s Doritos bag look so much zippier than yesterday’s? Why is it important to maintain quality printing capability for retail packaging? And how does a cardboard box fit through a printing press?
Sylvia Stevenson, Technical Manager in Dow DuPont’s Advanced Printing business, will discuss these concepts, answer these questions, show samples, and demonstrate the Cyrel® flexographic printing technology used across the flexible packaging industry.


January 22, 2018
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Prof. Vanessa Chan / Why Start-ups and New Products Fail and How to Avoid It Prof. Vanessa Chan
MSE, University of Pennsylvania
Why Start-ups and New Products Fail and How to Avoid It
 

Commercializing technologies developed on the lab bench is the dream of many research scientists and engineers. However, to maximize the likelihood of commercialization, it is important to be aware of the failure modes that bedevil technologies when companies try to develop them into new products. Learn the main reason why new products fail through examples that span a wide range of companies and industries and take lessons from the ones that have succeeded. At the heart of this is how to bring to market something that is solving a real unmet need within an ecosystem that is primed to accept the innovation.

In this seminar, Dr. Vanessa Chan, will discuss what she’s learned as 1) a partner at McKinsey & Company helping Fortune 100 companies launch their new technologies 2) an entrepreneur launching her own invention and 3) an angel investor investing in technology led start-ups.


December 11, 2017
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Bill 'Bunsen' Berner / It’s All Smoke and Mirrors: The Physics of Images Bill 'Bunsen' Berner
Physics & Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
It’s All Smoke and Mirrors: The Physics of Images
 

Bill ‘Bunsen’ Berner is returning to Stoney’s for an encore performance. The behavior of mirrors and magnifying glasses will be demonstrated with some of the Physics Demonstration Lab’s best eye candy.

The how and why of image formation will be pursued with phantom light bulbs, levitating lecturers, a trip through the looking glass; and yes, even a smoke machine.


December 7, 2017
World Cafe Live

3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104


6:00pm
Prof. Vanessa Chan / Why Start-ups and New Products Fail and How to Avoid It Prof. Vanessa Chan
MSE, University of Pennsylvania
Why Start-ups and New Products Fail and How to Avoid It
 

Commercializing technologies developed on the lab bench is the dream of many research scientists and engineers. However, to maximize the likelihood of commercialization, it is important to be aware of the failure modes that bedevil technologies when companies try to develop them into new products. Learn the main reason why new products fail through examples that span a wide range of companies and industries and take lessons from the ones that have succeeded. At the heart of this is how to bring to market something that is solving a real unmet need within an ecosystem that is primed to accept the innovation.

In this seminar, Dr. Vanessa Chan, will discuss what she’s learned as 1) a partner at McKinsey & Company helping Fortune 100 companies launch their new technologies 2) an entrepreneur launching her own invention and 3) an angel investor investing in technology led start-ups.


November 20, 2017
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Dr. Tom Machon / Which Way is Up? Non-orientability in Physics Dr. Tom Machon
Physics, University of Pennsylvania
Which Way is Up? Non-orientability in Physics
 

Most surfaces have two sides. Think of a football: it has an inside and an outside. Some surfaces are special and have only one side. These are known as non-orientable surfaces, and perhaps the most famous example is the Möbius strip. In this talk I will explore the properties of non-orientable surfaces and how they relate to the physics of soap films and liquid crystals.


November 16, 2017
World Cafe Live

3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104


6:00pm
Prof. Douglas Jerolmack / The Secret Life of Pebbles: how the history of Earth and other planets is encoded in pebble shape Prof. Douglas Jerolmack
Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania
The Secret Life of Pebbles: how the history of Earth and other planets is encoded in pebble shape
 

Rounded pebbles in rivers and beaches are as common as they are admired. Stunningly, similarly smooth pebbles have also been discovered on the surfaces of Mars and Titan. How do pebbles get this way, considering that they are born as angular fragments of broken rock? While this question was first pondered by Aristotle, an answer has only begun to emerge in the last decade due a surprising confluence of abstract mathematics, experimental physics and field geology. In this talk I consider the life cycle of a pebble, and show how its ‘maturity’ can be determined from its degree of roundness. I explore how progress on this esoteric problem informs our understanding of the early solar system, and current environmental issues.


October 26, 2017
World Cafe Live

3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104


6:00pm
David R. Busch / From Flashlights to Brain Monitors, Diffuse Optics in Tissue David R. Busch
Physics, University of Pennsylvania
From Flashlights to Brain Monitors, Diffuse Optics in Tissue
 

When you cover a flashlight with your hand, why does it glow red? Tissue absorbs blue and green light, but red light passes through. Despite the red light, you can’t see bones. This talk will describe the whys behind these common observations and explain how optics can be used to measure and monitor the brain, without using ionizing radiation.


October 23, 2017
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
David R. Busch / From Flashlights to Brain Monitors, Diffuse Optics in Tissue David R. Busch
Physics, University of Pennsylvania
From Flashlights to Brain Monitors, Diffuse Optics in Tissue
 

When you cover a flashlight with your hand, why does it glow red? Tissue absorbs blue and green light, but red light passes through. Despite the red light, you can’t see bones. This talk will describe the whys behind these common observations and explain how optics can be used to measure and monitor the brain, without using ionizing radiation.


September 25, 2017
Stoney’s British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE


7:30pm
Jorge Santiago-Aviles / The Importance of Batteries and Super Capacitors to the Electric Car and to an Efficient Power Grid Jorge Santiago-Aviles
University of Pennsylvania
The Importance of Batteries and Super Capacitors to the Electric Car and to an Efficient Power Grid
 

Some important aspects of modern technology such as transportation and the efficiency of the power grid are strongly tied to new advances in charge storage technology. Most electric car manufacturers are attempting to obtain a range comparable to internal combustion driven cars, about 500 miles, and all are seeking the right battery / super capacitor for the task. Of course, load leveling, avoiding the cyclical increase in grid load due to seasons, and day / night load fluctuations are a most important concern. We will discuss batteries, energy and power densities and the two types of super capacitors used, electrical double layer and Faradaic.


September 21, 2017
World Cafe Live

3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104


6:00pm
Preston B. Moore / Smart Materials That Respond to Stimuli Preston B. Moore
Chemistry Department, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia
Smart Materials That Respond to Stimuli
 

Materials that change in response to stimuli are very desirable for a range of applications from biometrics to energy storage. Recently, a facile synthetic route to binary polymer brushes and mosaic polymer brushes, which are novel and unique organizations of polymers at solid substrates, has been reported. Mosaic brushes are homogeneously distributed islands of densely grafted polymers, whereas the binary brushes are two immiscible polymers grafted to the surface. Both are smart materials that feature well-developed interfaces and stimuli-responsive behavior. The talk will discuss the synthesis and simulations of these novel materials, and their potential applications.


video channel button

Check out some past lectures on our Video Channel