Gemstone Honors Program

Fall 2007

Reed Gift Supports CivE Undergrads

November 29, 2007

Richard N. Reed, B.S. ?50, civil engineering, is supporting undergraduate students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering through the establishment of the Richard N. Reed, Jr. Scholarship Fund. The fund was created with an initial gift of $100,000.

Reed took advantage of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which allows charitable contributions of up to $100,000 per year.

"I wanted to make a difference and leave my permanent mark on the university, so I created an endowed scholarship for deserving students," Reed said. "Supporting the university has been a grand experience, and I strongly encourage eligible individuals to take advantage of the PPA?in the small window of time that remains?and do something that will help ensure its future."

The first student recipient of this scholarship will be selected in 2008.

"Mr. Reed is one of our most loyal alumni," said Ali Haghani, chair of civil and environmental engineering. "We are grateful for his generosity that will bring great benefits to our students for years to come."

To learn more about the Great Expectations campaign and how you can make a difference in the Clark School's progress, please contact Steve Beeland.


"Nature-Made" Computers

October 30, 2007

Computers don't grow on trees, but with a little prodding from engineers, nature can produce computer components.

At the Clark School, Ray Phaneuf, associate professor of materials science and engineering, has developed a template nature can follow to produce "self-assembling" structures. The template causes atoms to be arranged in a defined pattern that can serve a variety of purposes?a semiconductor in a laptop, a component in a cell phone or a sensor in a wearable device.

The idea of self-assembly in nature has long been known?crystallization is one such process; the formation of shells into spirals is another. However, researchers have been limited to the designs that nature already knows how to make. Phaneuf's work introduces a man-made template that nature then follows, addressing a number of manufacturing difficulties.

"While we understand how to make working nanoscale devices, making things out of a countable number of atoms takes a long time," Phaneuf said. "Industry needs to be able to mass-produce them on a practical time scale."

The template process can be used by device manufacturers to mass-produce tiny components rapidly and efficiently, reduce costs, shrink device sizes, and improve devices' functionality in ways previously not possible.

"The same template can be used thousands of times," Phaneuf said. "This results in enormous savings."

Phaneuf says his work is one step in a "cocktail" approach to computer assembly?an engineer's dream in which one could "mix-up" a computer the same way one mixes a drink.

"Imagine you shake up a cocktail and spill it onto a table," Phaneuf said. "The liquid will collect in pools in a manner designated by nature.

"Now imagine that first you coated the table with wax and scraped a pattern into it. Now when you spill the liquid onto the table, it collects in the pattern you scraped into the wax?it assumes the form you want it to take. When we apply this idea to manufacturing nanoscale computer components, collections of atoms become ordered, accessible, controllable and reproducible?characteristics crucial to their use in high-tech devices."

These devices could include those used in the growing field of quantum computing, which is believed to hold promise for carrying out exceptionally difficult mathematical processes, Phaneuf said. An application of the templates might be self-assembly of coupled quantum dots to form "qubits," the building blocks of quantum computers. According to Phaneuf, templating could be used to make the manufacture of this highly complicated system more feasible: "Addressing individual qubits might be done optically, to get around the problem of trying to wire them all up."

Phaneuf's work focuses on silicon and gallium arsenide components. Silicon is the prevalent material for components in computers while gallium arsenide is used more often in cell phones.

The templates are created using photolithography (a process akin to photography, in which the template is chemically developed after being exposed to light) and etching, or by "nanoscraping," in which an atomic force microscope is used to selectively scrape the pattern into the template.

View the related press release online.

More Information: "Templating for Directed Self Assembly"

Ray Phaneuf's Research Group: http://www.glue.umd.edu/~phaneuf/Welcome.html

UM's LEAFHouse Takes 2nd

October 19, 2007

The University of Maryland's entry into the 2007 Solar Decathlon took 2nd place at the conclusion of the competition in Washington, D.C, behind the Technische Universit´┐Żt Darmstadt of Germany. UM won the BP Solar People's Choice Award.

The UM team won the subjective lighting, energy balance and communications contests during the competition and took second place in the architecture, lighting (overall) and market viability portions of the decathlon. There were also contests involving how the team's house supported appliances, produced hot water, powered a solar car and how comfortable the house was. The team placed 6th in the engineering portion of the competition and was one of seven teams to have a perfect score in the "energy balance" segment of the competition.

In other contests at the event, the UM team took first place in the National Association of Home Builders' Marketing Curb Appeal contest and also was recognized by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers for "Integration for Renewables for Sustainable Living."

At a separate event, the Potomac Valley chapter of the American Institute of Arhictects gave the team its Advancement of the Art and Science of Architecture Award.

The team's entry, LEAFHouse, uses the Chesapeake Bay watershed as the inspiration for a smart, adaptable, resource-efficient home powered by renewable energy. "LEAF" stands for "leading everyone to an abundant future."

According to the team web site, "The name 'LEAFHouse' reflects our interest in the elegant marriage of biological knowledge and cutting-edge technology. The leaf in nature is a perfect machine for converting sunlight into energy." The UM team was made up of students from several schools on campus, including engineering and architecture.

This is the third time UM participated in the Solar Decathlon, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Read/watch the U.S. Department of Energy press release online.