Surface modification and creation of specific interfaces are ubiquitous in almost all engineered semiconductor devices. These modifications are mainly obtained by the introduction of dopants into the semiconductor body by thermal diffusion, ion implantation, or ion-beam mixing of surface coatings with the semiconductor substrate. Due to the great importance of silicon as the material comprising 95% of all electronic devices, coupled with its inferior radiative properties, this project focuses on silicon materials and structures. The research will follow with other group IV semiconductors such as germanium or alloys of SiC or SiGe. In depth investigation of several ion implantation and ion-beam mixing schemes that varies from shallow to deep implantations, ion-beam mixing of co-evaporated/co-sputtered coatings, and inclusion of optically active impurities such as rare-earth metals will be performed. Preliminary results using ion-beam mixing of erbium and silicon; and erbium and silicon and germanium in silicon show that reasonably high 4f emission from Er+3 are attainable, while other results of dislocation defects engineered by implantation of boron corroborated with results from shallow boron ion implantation have both yielded band-to-band radiative carrier recombination of high efficiency.
These studies are remarkable for offering a circumvention of obstacles to optimal emission dictated by the indirect band gap nature of group IV semiconductors in general and crystalline Si in particular at various emission wavelengths. The proposed research will concentrate on optimum conditions for dopants to modify band gap of Si and indirect band gap semiconductors to favor radiative carrier recombination over heat generation non-radiative ones. The goals of this ambitious research are to explore the best mechanisms for dopants to modulate the band gap of Si; thus, controlling the dynamic electronic properties in devices established around the implanted region or modified surfaces, supported strongly by collaborators such as the SANDIA National Laboratories facility in New Mexico, USA and other interested collaborating scientists without any cost to the project.
The UAE has abundant solar energy source with an average radiation of 6.3 kWh/m2 per day. Solar steam generation is emerging as a promising technology for its potential in harvesting solar energy for various applications such as power generation, water treatment, desalination, and sterilization. Inspired by the natural desalination process of halophytes of the UAE, different from energy intensive RO/thermal desalination, we propose an all‐in-one multifunctional 3D printed passive solar distillation device.
The capability of grey mangroves (Avicennia marina), the only species present in the UAE to repel 60‐80% salt in roots, and unexplored mechanism of seawater propagation in Salicornia (S. bigelovii), motivate us to understand the morphological microstructures and quantify the role of each part of plant towards natural passive desalination. Recent advances in micro 3D printing enable us to print artificial leaves, stems, and roots at a very high resolution comparable to the microstructures of halophytes. These 3D printed artificial leaves, stems, and roots, with controlled surface chemistry and microstructures, empower us to perform mechanistic study systematically. This also leads us to design synthetic plants with high‐performance solar thermal energy conversion efficiency, owing to the insightful understanding of the phenomena: (i) sunlight harvesting of absorber surface like leaves; (ii) liquid propagation in superhydrophilic hierarchical microchannels as in stem; and (iii) salt repelling microchannels as in roots; ultimately leading towards vapor condensation and freshwater collection.
The proposed approach is valuable to both large‐scale distillation and portable applications in rural areas or off‐grid islands. The ability to generate vapor and collect fresh water under ambient sunlight passively holds promise for significant cost reduction of existing solar thermal systems while opening up new applications such as desalination, wastewater treatment, and sterilization. The scope of the proposed work is well aligned with one of the strategic research categories of AARE: energy, water, and environment.
Thermoelectric devices to generate electricity from waste heat have great potential in solving the world’s energy crisis. The development of efficient devices, however, requires materials with strong thermoelectric response. Two-dimensional (2D) transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) are semiconductors with favorable electronic properties, while a high thermal conductivity limits their performance. Building heterostructures of different 2D materials makes it possible to tune the phonon scattering and, therefore, reduce the thermal conductivity. In addition, such stacking modifies the electronic properties, which opens potential for further enhancement of the thermoelectric response.
The present project aims at establishing design principles for thermoelectric materials based on 2D heterostructures. It is planned to study heterostructures of different TMDCs, as well as heterostructures comprising TMDCs and other 2D materials. The interdependency between the chosen component materials and the thermoelectric behavior will be investigated in detail. In addition, the effects of intercalation of metal ions or dielectric layers in the van der Waals gap of the heterostructures will be addressed in order to evaluate whether intercalation can be an efficient tool for materials design. Computer simulations based on first-principles calculations and Boltzmann transport theory will be employed to tackle these tasks. For a reliable prediction of the thermoelectric properties, both the van der Waals interaction and spin-orbit coupling will be taken into consideration.
The proposed project will help identify efficient thermoelectric materials and provide atomic level understanding of the physics and chemistry determining the thermoelectric properties of 2D heterostructures. Progress in thermoelectric technology makes it possible to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by increasing the contribution of green resources to the national energy mix. The proposal is aligned with the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which targets that about 44% energy should be produce through clean energy.
The notion of industry 4.0 is all about the well-connectivity and smartness of the industry and its response to the needs of the society. The application of graphene towards smart and well-connected products, particularly in aerospace, is increasing due its excellent intrinsic characteristics such as higher electrical and thermal conductivity, in addition to higher strength and lighter weight. The European Union, under its one of the biggest scientific initiatives ‘Graphene Flagship,’ invested 1 billion euros in exploring the applications of graphene in next-generation products, and the investment is increasing rigorously over the years after the demonstration of promising results shown by graphene.
Till date, graphene has been predominantly used for sensors and thermal management, but its installation in load bearing aero-structures have not been explored yet in spite of its superlative mechanical properties. Designers can exploit a combination of properties of interest to realize a single multifunctional component using graphene. For instance, a single part based on the graphene can act as a structural component, while at the same time as a heat sink and/or an electrical sensor. The multi-functionality of a single part, as a result, will minimize the number of parts required and also will simplify the manufacturing cycle.
The proposed research aims to develop multifunctional load bearing aero-structures for next-generation aircrafts. This will be a step forward toward the future of aircrafts, which shall be more smart, more electric, and well-connected with higher sensing capabilities. The findings of this research will bring advancement to Abu Dhabi’s aerospace technological know-how in terms of using smart aircraft structures with sufficient structural integrity in combination with higher sensing, which is one of the strategic priority areas of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The smart composite structure will be able to monitor its health condition while in service, and will provoke preventive maintenance measures of the aero-structural components that could possibly avoid catastrophic, non-alarming failure. The project will join the forces of its multi-disciplinary faculty and young Emirati researchers, highlighting Abu Dhabi’s strategic priority in manufacturing, aerospace, and other critical national and global needs.
Mechanical metamaterials are synthetic materials whose mechanical properties are governed primarily by the architecture of their intricate cellular or porous microstructure, and not by their chemical composition. In 2018, the global metamaterials market size was $448 million, and is expected to grow to $1.8 billion by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate of 32%. Mechanical metamaterials are seen as critical enablers for lightweight structural applications that require not only high stiffness and strength but also possess additional built-in functionalities such as enhanced heat transfer, energy absorption, and programmable shape morphing features.
Here, we propose to develop a novel strategy for the design and fabrication of geometrically tailored mechanical metamaterials with enhanced specific strength, stiffness, and energy absorption capacity. By combining detailed finite element calculations with a heuristic optimization scheme, we will design unit cells with geometrically tailored structural features that maximize the specific strain energy storage in bend-dominated cellular networks. State-of-the-art 3D printing technology will be used to fabricate the geometrically tailored lattice designs developed in this project, and their mechanical properties will be experimentally evaluated and benchmarked against already existing stretch and bend dominated metamaterials.
The project will have a broader impact on the UAE society and economy by providing a superb research platform that will enable the development of innovative engineering systems for the future of the nation’s economic growth, particularly in the Aerospace and Defense sector. Furthermore, the project will strongly contribute to the development of human capital through training and mentoring of graduate students and provide promising potential for the generation of intellectual property and technology transfer to the industry.
We propose to develop novel, ultra-lightweight, multifunctional cellular solids (i.e., foams or sponge) utilizing two-dimensional heterogeneous materials also known as van der Waals heterogeneous structures (VDWHSs). These are multi-layered, atomic-thin materials composed of different types of base-materials, like a stack of papers of different colors where each colored sheet represent a specific material, in conjunction with advanced 3D-printing technologies. The intended applications are for electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, such as stealthiness under radar, lightening protection for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and marine surface vehicles, as well as mechanical vibration suppression for underwater vehicles. The technology will have wider implications for national defense.
The core technological innovation is to find one or more VDWHS systems with high electrical conductivity and put this material to form cellular solids where its internal microstructure is optimized by design for electromagnetic wave shielding and for mechanical wave suppression. The optimized scaffold of internal structure is produced by 3D printing and later removed after coating with VDWHS, leaving a cellular solid of purely VDWHS. We will address two key research challenges: (a) to design, synthesize, and characterize novel VDWHSs; and (b) to design, develop, and characterize cellular solids made of VDWHS for the aforementioned aims. At the conclusion of the project, we expect to deliver a novel technology for producing a material with high effectiveness for EMI shielding, lightening protection, as well as for mechanical vibration suppression with designated band gaps. In addition, we will be training a few Emirati students at the undergraduate and master level and produce three to four technical papers in leading international journals.
Low-temperature Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) is an electrochemical device that ensures the generation of electricity from a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. This technology has been the focus of research and development because of its sustainable nature and zero gas emissions as compared to fossil fuels, but is still far from maturity. Its efficiency and power-to-weight ratio are still below the desired levels and improvement of these characteristics would be high value, increasing reliability, and the range of application areas for this technology. The project scope includes: (i) development of a detailed non-linear model of the PEM fuel cell, particularly using the approaches to the modeling of complex electrical and thermo-dynamic components developed within the process control group of the Khalifa University; (ii) development and design of the model-based control of PEM fuel cell system; (iii) implementation of the complete system and experimental testing.
This project investigates photonic structures with novel functions fabricated by interfacing sol-gel films with crystalline silicon surfaces. Preliminary results using erbium-doped films show that this combination yields high emission levels for band-gap radiation from the silicon has disclosed an unexpected property of photonic materials. This is significant for surmounting obstacles to emission posed by the indirect band gap nature of crystalline Si, where free carriers usually recombine non-radiative generating heat rather than photons.
The proposed research aims to elucidate the physical mechanism responsible for the enhanced emission and to determine structures for producing optimal quantum efficiencies. It will build on evidence that the emission of band-gap photons is promoted by non-uniform elastic strains in the silicon near the interface adjacent to a sol-gel film containing non-uniform stresses. The theoretical framework posits that carrier localization within such strain fields enhances radiative recombination in silicon by increasing electron-hole interactions.
The experimental approach is to use test structures processed on Si and sili¬con-on-insulator (SOI) material for improved optical and electronic isolation and resolution. Experimental techniques for studying relevant aspects of the materials and photonics science are specifically: excitation-matrix photoluminescence, lifetime measurements, emission depth profiling, strain measurement by X-ray diffraction and micro-Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, MOS capacitor analysis, and electrical transport. Sol-gel film study encompasses its formulation chemistry and cation doping with species both optically active and not.
The goal of this research is to characterize the optically active region in the silicon, indicated to lie adjacent to the interface with the sol-gel film, and quantifying internal and external emission quantum efficiencies. Relating film composition and mechanics to optical modifications of the adjacent silicon will also be fully explored.
Increased proliferation of antimicrobial-resistant and new strains of bacterial pathogens severely impact the current health, environmental, and technological developments. A recent study predicted that if the trend continues at the current speed, by 2050 more people will die because of drug-resistant infections than cancer. In Abu Dhabi and the UAE, the phenomenon is even more intense with climate conditions enhancing rapid growth and spread of pathogenic microorganisms. Indicatively, a recent study commented by the The National newspaper found a “heavy growth” of the potentially deadly E. coli bug and other dangerous bacteria in Abu Dhabi, even on common work surfaces, while the prolonged use of air conditioning was found to often cause extensive fungal growth. From a technological point of view, uncontrollable bacteria proliferation/biofouling on surfaces of industrial interest in Abu Dhabi, including desalination, oil & gas processing, water treatment, and food processing, cause a serious loss of productivity, compromised quality, huge amounts of energy spent, and high costs. To this extent, the design of novel and highly efficient antibacterial agents is urgently needed.
Nanotechnology can offer unique opportunities for bottom-up development of novel bacteriostatic and bactericidal formulations. The unique bactericidal effect of nanoparticles is attributed to their small size and high surface to volume ratio, which allows them to interact closely with microbial membranes. Our recent work resulted in the development of very efficient nanostructured antibacterial agents based on graphene with bimetallic loadings while it was recently expanded with the development of novel nanostructured agents consisting of stabilized metallic species in pure ionic form that exhibited an even higher antibacterial efficacy.
The objective of the ADEK project is to build upon this prior developments and investigate the growth of highly efficient agents based on bi-metallic of multi-metallic loadings using properly engineered, high surface area porous supports, able to bound metallic species in nanoparticle but also in ionic forms. This will be combined with the expertise and capability of the group to design, modify, functionalize, and customize a variety of nanomaterials and porous nanostructures toward the development of the next-generation of antimicrobial agents.
Efforts are being intensified to capture emitted CO2 from more and more possible industrial sources. In the field of adsorption, a plethora of novel materials are being explored, yet a platform of suitable materials/systems to treat a wide range of industrial emissions at large scale, e.g., from the oil and gas industry, still remains a challenge, as multiple factors need to be met at the same time.
This project, through a strategy combining innovative design of porous hybrid nanostructures with novel functionalization strategies coupled to systematic, in-situ characterization and full performance evaluation aims to yield robust adsorbents that will exhibit (A) high-capacity, selectivity, fast kinetics, and low energy consumption, and (B) chemical and thermal stability, sustainable performance for many cycles, low manufacturing cost, and mechanical robustness, thus paving the way towards large-scale implementation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing highly desirable CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) utilization.
The goal of this flagship project is to develop low-cost, lightweight, multi-junction photovoltaics (PV) with high-power conversion efficiency (PCE) and superior radiation-resistance for space applications by leveraging a revolutionary manufacturing method invented collaboratively by MIT and Khalifa University. PV devices for extraterrestrial operation need to be optimized for high specific power and low areal density (kg/m2) due to the limited carry-weight capacity and surface area of the spacecraft. In addition, space PVs require radiation-hardened cells and/or packaging to minimize formation of crystallographic defects from high-energy particle induced ionization events. However, it has been challenging for conventional PV technology to produce space PV that satisfies all of the above requirements for several reasons. First, the choice of materials for monolithic multi-junction PVs is limited by fundamental lattice constraints on epitaxial growth of dissimilar semiconductor compounds. Second, selective removal of the active PV layers from the substrate for weight reduction requires grinding away expensive III-V substrates. And third, the choice of radiation-resistant PV and packing materials are also limited by the lack of readily accessible and affordable wafers.
This project will develop and deliver superior power electronics, electric machines, and associated control strategies to enable weight, cost, and size reduction while expanding the capabilities of aerospace platforms. Advances in aerospace systems are increasingly tied to advances in energy processing. Visions and current research efforts for aerospace systems clearly point towards new demands for electric energy processing for propulsion, sensor systems, and for enabling efficient, cost-effective programs for maintenance.
For example, drones and light aircraft ranging from personal aircraft to small regional carriers are moving towards electric or hybrid propulsion. More generally,aircraft, satellites, and other space systems all offer ultimate examples of a power “microgrid,” an isolated power delivery system vital to the core functions of aerospace assets. The importance of electric power and energy processing on aerospace platforms will grow and change in comparison to traditional satellites, launchers, and aircraft.
This project will introduce advanced power electronics topologies, novel energy management systems, demand side management schemes, fault detection, isolation and recovery, and new electromagnetic actuators to ensure efficient, reliable, and stable operation of the spacecraft and aeronautical power systems.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a global disruptive technology transforming many industries due to increased creativity in product design, easier production, reduced cost, and expedited on‐demand manufacturing. Many UAE industrial and governmental sectors started employing AM due to the Dubai Strategy in making it the world’s 3D printing hub by 2030. Our main objective is to introduce state‐of‐the art‐technology for Industry 4.0 in the UAE by establishing an Advanced Digital and Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) Center as a strategic advanced manufacturing center at KU to cater the needs of the aerospace, healthcare, construction, defense, water, and energy sectors. The ADAM Center will serve as an R&D and educational facility in the area of AM and will be a platform to provide support to industries across the UAE. This will be fulfilled by adapting an integrated approach combining a full suite of digital design, modeling/simulation, fabrication, characterization, experimental testing, and analysis facilities.
Electric vehicles (land and airborne) are becoming more popular because of current environmental awareness and recent changes in legislation around the use of fossil fuels. Electric vehicles commonly have onboard energy storage devices such as batteries and dielectric capacitors for their operation. Batteries store high energy density, which is helpful for long distance drives or flights and capacitors have high-power density that can be used for takeoff or acceleration. As more and more electrical systems and sub-systems are added to the vehicles, the weight of the onboard storage system will increase accordingly, making the vehicle heavy.
One way to achieve weight savings whilst maintaining the power requirements is to use the shell structure of the vehicle as onboard storage devices. A good candidate for such use is carbon fiber reinforced composites where the carbon fiber in the composite can be used as electrodes and the binding polymer as an electrolyte, with a glass barrier as separator in between. There are currently two routes to produce such materials; one by embedding or printing thin batteries onto a composite laminate and the other by synthesizing a material from its fundamental level, both of which show positive results in their flat forms. In reality, the final product is rarely flat and has complex shapes and geometries. To arrive at such complex shapes from flat sheets, the material must undergo several bending and unbending operations that may induce stresses in the materials. These internal stresses may destroy the embedded battery architecture and in effect its purpose. Therefore, to maintain material integrity while processing, it is important to understand the deformation process during such secondary operations. Therefore, this work will focus on understanding the deformation process of such materials during manufacturing operations in order to establish safety limits and manufacturing envelopes.
Aerospace and automotive industry will benefit from this work in developing techniques to manufacture body panels to store and discharge energy. With the current interest in air taxies, commercial aircraft and UAVs can benefit from this project by developing structural materials that can store and discharge energy (wings, fuselage, and rear empennage) to increase their payload capacity.
Morphing aircraft is one of the most promising technology that can help reduce fuel burn, noise, and emissions. A morphing aircraft continuously adjust its wing geometry to enhance flight performance, control authority, and multi‐mission capability. One of the main challenges facing the design of a morphing aircraft is the development of morphing skins. The design of morphing skins has many conflicting requirements. The skin must be flexible enough to allow shape changes but at the same time it must be stiff enough to withstand the aerodynamic loads and maintain the require profile of the wing.
Although a range of morphing skins exist in literature, however fatigue and failure of morphing skins have not been addressed and there is still a lot to be done in this area. Crack initiation and propagation through the skin can results in degrading the aerodynamic efficiency of the wing, while failure of the skin results in losing the aerodynamic shape of the wing resulting in partial or complete stall that might cause the aircraft to crash. The main aim of this proposal is to develop a framework to examine and assess the endurance of morphing skins and to identify the impact of design and operational parameters on the failure modes of the skin. In addition, this project will develop a novel generic experimental test rig that simulate the in‐flight loads on the skin.
The project explores the feasibility of the concept of the Dynamic Intelligent Bridge (DIB), a bridge with improved performance under major natural hazards. The basic idea of the DIB is that varying the way a bridge is supported at its ends can lead to an improved structural performance under dynamic loadings, such as strong earthquakes or strong winds-hurricanes.
The specific goal is to substitute current bridge joints that have a fixed width with variable-width joints, which initially can be either closed or open depending on their length and the serviceability requirements, while under extreme dynamic loading their width is optimized either with a one-off adjustment, or continuously through a special control system. In all cases, a novel device is used that permits this improved behavior of the joints, the moveable shear key (MSK), a device for blocking the movement of the bridge deck, which is not permanently fixed to the seat of the abutment (like the standard shear keys) but can slide, hence opening a previously closed gap or closing an existing gap between the deck and the abutment.
This project is a feasibility study of the above idea, focusing on the effect of gap size, to explore how significantly it can affect the response quantities of the abutments and the piers, and also assess the forces that are expected in the MSKs during extreme dynamic loads; these are also studied in a life-cycle cost framework, to assess the economic feasibility of the proposed solutions.
Several modern technologies are benefited from novel multi-functional materials. In this regard, organic polymers (Porous Organic Polymers and Covalent Organic Frameworks) are a promising class because of their ultrahigh hydrothermal stabilities, tailor-made porous architectures, high surface areas, lightweight characteristic, and high yielding synthetic polymer chemistry. Three key areas where these materials are highly useful but still in developmental research stage are renewable energy applications (e.g.,. 3rd and 4th generation solar cells system), recovery of naturally endangered elements (e.g., Lithium metal), and biomedical science (e.g., cargo delivery vehicles and imaging agents). While renewable energy will make up to 40% of total power generation by 2040 in which solar is expected to be the largest low-carbon power source, the lithium demand has tremendously increased such that the indispensability of lithium in the growing future production threatens a premature depletion in 2025 of the finite world lithium reserves. On the other hand, researchers are still finding a long-term solution for efficient drug delivery and imaging-assisted tumor surgery. The designing versatility and functional veracity of organic polymers can allow us to develop an alternative solution for these socially relevant challenges.
The proposed research aims for (1) the smart design, synthesis, and characterization of organic conjugated polymers for organic photovoltaics; (2) the development of an affinity functions decorated POPs or COFs for lithium enrichment from seawater; and (3) the design and synthesis of single-core system for multi-modality imaging and targeting of diseased species.
The ability to build complex molecules using non-stoichiometric methodologies is intrinsic to future sustainability and developments in the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds, materials, and fine chemicals. In this context, the area of homogeneous catalysis plays a central role in rendering molecular transformations more energetically efficient and environmentally more benign. Numerous syntheses use multistep sequences (often involving different catalysts) to deliver the end-product with sequential purification and reactions. In an idealized multistep synthesis, several steps could be completed in a single flask with a single final purification. We envisage one synthetic strategy to accomplish multistep processes that would involve switching on catalytic reactions at appropriate moments using a remote stimulus (light is the most obvious option).
The use of enzymes, such as peroxidases, is a promising new approach for the degradation of organic pollutants during wastewater treatment applications. We, and others, have previously shown that plant peroxidases (such as soybean peroxidase) can efficiently degrade a range of organic pollutants that are increasingly being detected in water bodies. However, further research and application of this potentially powerful approach has been hindered by the cost of these enzymes. We plan to address this challenge by using recombinant DNA technology to clone and express large amounts of active peroxidases in bacteria. We specifically plan to take advantage of incorporating various “solubilizing fusion proteins” and/or affinity tags in the N-terminal of recombinant peroxidases to get high yields of active recombinant peroxidases. Additionally, we plan to carry out protein engineering and evolution to create “super-peroxidases” that will be more stable and active than wild-type enzymes. The second half of the project will focus on applying these novel recombinantly expressed peroxidases for the actual degradation and detoxification of a few chosen emerging pollutants (pesticides, drugs, etc.) using previously developed and established analytical (LCMSMS) and phytotoxicity assays. In addition to high-impact publications on recombinant plant peroxidase expression in bacteria, we hope to employ an MSc student in the project, and we may file patent applications if we are successful in creating industrially attractive novel peroxidases. Another attractive aspect of the project is that it is completely aligned with Khalifa University’s research priorities in the area of “Water and Environment,” specifically wastewater treatment.
This project will investigate the use of different high performance thermoplastics for liquid composite molding processes, commonly used out of autoclave processing techniques in the aerospace industry. Several processing conditions and process parameters will be investigated through novel thermoplastic matrix characterization techniques. A flow monitoring test bench will be developed and used to measure the melt flow and in-situ polymerized thermoplastic matrix permeability through reinforcing fabrics. The void formation and transport during processing will be understood using purposely built state-of-the-art framework placed inside an X-ray CT scanner. By using these methodologies, a complete understanding will be developed on how to use novel and high performance thermoplastics for niche applications such as aerospace. Further, a novel method to incorporate 3D printed grids/channels into the reinforcing fabrics will also be investigated. These grids will serve as permeability enhancing channels for faster processing of high viscosity thermoplastics, and will remain in the composite as toughening agents. A representative aerospace structure demonstrator part will be manufactured that will represent an actual part used in a UAE-based aerospace industry. The research discoveries through this project will promote education through undergraduate and graduate class teaching modules. The innovative technologies and ideas will be transferred to the interested UAE-based aerospace industries such as, Strata, AMMROC, ADASI, and Tawazun.
There is tremendous current interest in developing systems that can respond to a change in environmental conditions such as pH, temperature, light, etc. A major application is using this change to trigger the release of a compound, such as a buffer or drug as temperature increases, an antioxidant in response to light or oxygen, or an agrochemical in response to humidity or light levels.
Recent work in the applicant’s laboratory at the University of Bath has used modern methods of synthesizing polymers with controlled structures to prepare responsive materials to meet these aims. In particular, in 2018, a Masters student developed a system whereby we could grow responsive polymers from the surface of magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles, thereby opening the possibility of using a magnetic field to position and trigger release (through inductive heating) of components.
We propose to continue this work in two areas. Firstly, we will continue the development of polymer systems capable of encapsulating agrochemicals and releasing then under different temperature profiles. These would have application in the more sustainable use of agrochemicals such as pesticides and in eliminating waste and pollution of water courses. The second target will be to develop nanoparticles with better magnetic properties so that they are more responsive to magnetic fields and combine these with responsive polymers.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport and the local asphalt industry are constantly looking for technologies to reduce consumption of raw materials, emissions, and increase recycling to meet the objective of the UAE Surface Transport Master Plan 2030 and create the correct conditions for a sustainable road infrastructure network development. These goals are accepted worldwide, and many governmental agencies recognized them as fundamental for developing any new pavement technology. In this view, many studies have been recently carried out in the attempt to combine traditional pavement materials with polymeric waste to obtain a better performing product from the mechanical, as well as the environmental perspective.
Plastic waste represents a massive source of polymeric material. Every second, around 20,000 plastic bottles are being bought around the world, which corresponds to around 480 billion plastic bottles. It is expected that by 2021 the production will increase to 583 billion. Most plastic bottles are made from PolyEthylene Terephthalate (PET), which is highly recyclable. Nevertheless, data from 2016 shows that less than half of the bottles bought in one year were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead, most ended up in a landfill or in the ocean. Even though recycling technologies are currently available for reprocessing plastic, it is still extremely difficult to deal with the impressive quantity of plastic accumulated over the years. In the UAE, it has been evaluated that around 5 billion tons of general plastic waste will be reversed in the environment by 2030. This is the equivalent plastic amount generated by over 380 trillion plastic bottles.
The PEAM project aims to investigate the chemo-physical interactions between different types of plastic waste and the asphalt bitumen in the view of developing a reliable methodology to combine these two materials and enhance the mechanical properties of the final mix.
The demand for fuel-efficient transportation created the need for lightweight hybrid structures. This often requires the joining of similar and dissimilar materials to obtain complex structures for load bearing and aesthetics. Traditionally, joining is achieved by mechanical fastening and adhesive bonding. However, these methods have limitations, such as the requirement to drill holes and the associated stress concentration. Friction stir welding (FSW) is a new solid-state joining method that proved to be very effective in welding aluminum alloys. This project aims to investigate the joining mechanisms of polymers and metals to polymers by friction stir welding and friction lap welding. Experimental and numerical methods will be used to investigate the material flow and microstructure/crystallinity evolution in the stir zone and the joining mechanisms between metals and polymers. The welding of polymers, such as HDPE, PP, and PA66 to aluminum alloys will be conducted to achieve lightweight hybrid structures.
The project targets the field of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, specifically LCSPECIR, and will design, develop, and validate an innovative on-chip photonic sensing platform for spectroscopic monitoring of blood pattern changes. Thin-film waveguides made of silicon-on-sapphire (SOS), GaAs/AlGaAs, and diamond will be designed to enhance the interaction between infrared radiation and sample, boosting the sensitivity of the analysis and reducing the needed blood sample volume, so as to make in-line monitoring possible. The wave guides will then be implemented in an infrared lab-on-a-chip module whose surface will be functionalized by graphene, carbon nanodots, and inorganic semiconductors to produce a self-cleaning behavior and maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio. This will be achieved through a density functional theory (DFT) modelling of biomarkers adsorption and experimental studies on the interaction between adsorbate molecules and surfaces. Finally, LC-SPECIR blood sensors will be validated with tests on synthetic blood containing a number of biomarkers.
Robotics and artificial intelligence have gained growing attention in applications such as human machine interaction, healthcare, and bio-medicals. In empowering robotic platforms with accurate sensing functions and immediate smart response capabilities, flexible and smart electronics are expected to be fundamental elements and are required to offer signal-acquiring, signal-processing, and self-learning functions, as well as flexibility & stretchability to accommodate different touch surfaces under various motions or deformations. The architectures and devices based on embedded chips, organic semiconductors, nanocomposites have been previously studied, but none of them can simultaneously provide sufficient flexibility, sensitivity, and data-processing capability.
To overcome such obstacles, this project aims to develop a flexible & smart textile architecture integrated with a tactile sensor array and a memristive network using flexible carbon nanomaterials, and to conceptually demonstrate its sensing, signal-processing, and self-learning functions in robotic applications. The proposed sensor array is composed of both in-plane tensile sensors and out-of-plane compressive sensors that can provide 3D stress/strain distributions to represent the complex interactions, while the proposed memristive network is able to mimic human brain functions and thus can recognize these signal patterns after training. The combination of both of these technologies offers true smart functions without computation, enabling tremendous advances in the areas of artificial intelligence & robotics.
The United Arab Emirates is one of the top 10 producers of elemental sulfur in the world due to the production of sour gas fields in Abu Dhabi that is processed to remove H2S and CO2 before its usage in power generation. H2S is toxic and has to be converted to elemental sulfur. Hence, the production of elemental sulfur in the UAE has increased when Shah Field started operations. The future expansion of gas production in Abu Dhabi will led to the further increase in the production of elemental sulfur. It is desirable to develop an economy around sulfur in the UAE to utilize this natural resource. Sulfur has limited number of commercial applications and majority of it is being used to produce sulfuric acid. Hence, the need to develop more applications is a highly tangible approach.
This project is focused on the development of novel materials for applications in water remediation, batteries, lenses, hydrogen production, and energy generation. More specifically, we are developing polymeric and inorganic sulfides to target the above applications.
Radar absorbing materials (RAMs) have gained a fundamental role in civil, aerospace and military applications that require a good control of the electromagnetic (EM) environment such as design of ‘stealth’ aircraft against air based radar surveillance. Such materials are characterized not only by high shielding properties against EM fields but a low reflection coefficient over a defined frequency range of EM spectrum. The objective of ‘stealth’ designs is to reduce the radar cross-section (RSC) of the potential targets in order to make aircrafts and vehicles less detectable to hostile radar surveillance systems. In RAMs, the absorption is primarily due to the material’s dielectric and magnetic characteristics. Furthermore, the periodic patterned structures would be responsible for creating multiple absorptions by electromagnetic wave scattering based on structural influence. We propose radar absorbing 3D meta‐materials composed of ferrite multi‐granular nanoclusters (MGNC) carbon nanotubes/graphene nanocomposites. The optimized 3D meta structure is designed by electromagnetic simulation study.
To address the high demand for CMOS scaling and meet the beyond Moore challenge, novel structures and new materials are being introduced for the silicon industry. It is critical for nanoscale devices to employ novel channel materials to improve device performance and enable new functionality. Therefore, Ge is viable due to its higher hole and electron mobility compared to Si along with its strong absorber in the near-infrared light spectrum. This allow for monolithic fabrication of photodetectors and Si-CMOS receiver circuits. However, heteroepitaxial growth of high-quality films on silicon is challenging due to the 4.2% lattice mismatch with Ge. The goal of this project is to deposit a Ge layer with low surface roughness and threading dislocation density values at low temperature. And then followed by the fabrication of electronic and photonic devices based on this, along with integration with III-V and 2D materials (graphene) to explore new devices and architectures.
The continuous-flow photocatalytic oxidation of Volatile Organic Compounds from indoor air is a hot topic in environmental pollution control research. The widely investigated reactor design in such application is the annular-type TiO2-coated optical fiber, consisting of a solid light-guiding core, and supported photocatalyst. This design is well documented to suffer from multiple performance and economic shortcomings that can be linked to major photocatalyst and design deficiencies.
In this project, we propose radical technology enhancement modification strategies including the integration a ternary TiO2-CeO2 -CuO composite photocatalyst to allow more efficient harnessing of low energy radiation and utilize the microscale hollow core fiber reactor concept to provide additional reaction confinement, as well as handling flexibility. We tackle this research challenge with a comprehensive experimental and computational design plan to lay a foundation of how our proposed technology works and can be initially deployed.
Advances in additive manufacturing allow the incorporation of smart materials, such as shape memory alloys (SMAs), in printing objects with the ability to autonomously reassemble into different shapes under the influence of stimuli such as temperature or magnetism. The term “4D printing” was coined to designate manufacturing of such objects, which may enable innovative applications such as deployable aerospace structures, self-assembling robots, and patient-specific self-deploying medical implants, etc. The feasibility of printed SMAs was demonstrated, in particular, for nitinol, but limited data is available regarding the performance and reliability of the obtained material. The goal of this project is to develop and validate thermomechanical models and failure criteria for printed nitinol. The development of such models is critical for facilitating computer-aided design, optimization, and virtual prototyping of printed nitinol samples prior to fabrication, thereby reducing production cost and time to market.
The UAE is planning the development of an extensive national railway system (Etihad Rail) connecting the country’s principal commercial, industrial, and residential hubs through a state-of-the-art freight and passenger network. Even though the railway has several advantages over roads, there are major drawbacks, such as maintenance costs due to track deterioration, which limits its implementation. In particular, ballast, a layer consisting of coarse angular aggregates placed underneath the sleepers, and a vital component of railway tracks as it provides stability and drainage is the main cause of track maintenance needs. The main objective of SUPERTRACK is to engineer new high-performance, sustainable ballast to drastically increase the lifespan of the track, decrease the level of maintenance, and potentially the level of noise and vibration. Lab testing of locally available natural and recycled materials, and smart technologies will be used together with constitutive and finite element modeling to develop enhanced solutions.
In response to the UAE Surface Transport Master Plan 2030 objective to create an integrated road safety system, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality and Department of Transport are constantly looking for technologies to reduce high number of traffic accident fatalities. One important factor that influences road driving safety is skid resistance of an asphalt pavement. Recent studies have indicated that high ambient and pavement surface temperatures can influence significantly the reliability of skid resistance measurements. Motivated by this, this project aims to develop reliable experimental and computational techniques to account for the influence of asphalt pavement temperature on skid resistance measurements in the UAE. This will be achieved on the basis of laboratory tests, field tests, and advanced computational techniques. The particular advantage of this approach is that for any given pavement surface the influence of environmental and operating conditions on skid resistance can be evaluated and quantified.