Gaurav Chaudhary, Michael Ye, and their advisor, Assistant Professor Randy Ewoldt, entered the contest with their entry, “Bioluminescent Galaxy
Mohamed Elhebeary (advised by Professor Taher Saif) competes with his entry, “Take a Closer Look!
The Image of Research is a multidisciplinary competition celebrating the diversity and breadth of graduate student research at Illinois. Graduate and professional students are invited to submit entries consisting of an image and brief text that articulates how the image relates to the research. Entries are judged by a multidisciplinary panel for connection between image, text, and research; originality; and visual impact.
The competition is organized by the Scholarly Commons of the University Library and the Graduate College, and is supported by a gift to the Scholarly Commons by the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.
The public is invited to a reception on April 6 at the Illini Union to view the entries and vote for the People’s Choice award.
"Take a Closer Look!": At very small length-scales, we often see surprising scaling effects. Ants can carry hundreds of times their weight! Can you imagine a third grader carrying a car? In order to build micromachines that can exhibit similar behavior, we need to understand how materials behave at these small scales. Mechanical testing of nanoscale materials, such as those used in microelectronics, is almost impossible using conventional testing machines. Therefore, we need to build our own MEMS platforms for testing. The device shown here is deceptively simple. It can mechanically test tiny samples, with thickness as small as 1/500 of the diameter of a human hair, under bending. Building these machines is very challenging, both in design and fabrication. Sophisticated designs are needed that are often manufactured from one block of material and require no assembly. Microfabrication involves several steps of addition and removal of material and is often performed in a cleanroom environment, free from dust and other contaminants. The more we understand the materials behavior the closer we get to manufacturing advanced systems such as tiny biological robots that can swim through your bloodstream detecting and fighting diseases.
"Bioluminescent Galaxy": These are not the Hubble generated images of galaxies in distant universe. In fact, these are the images of bioluminescent microscopic marine organisms, ‘dinoflagellata’ (Pyrocystis fusiformis), from very simple lab experiments captured using a DSLR camera. A single organism is shown in the center image, length ~ 700μm. Dinoflagellata are unicellular organisms that respond to mechanical disturbances in their surroundings by emitting visible light almost instantaneously. They are the most common source of bioluminescence in the sea at night, and well-known locations to observe them include Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and New Zealand. We characterize this behavior by exposing populations of cells to hydrodynamic forces in a ‘rheometer’, shown in the circular images (circle diameters 40 mm). Cells in a pool of seawater are placed on a surface-treated (silanized) glass plate which promotes cell adhesion. An aluminum disk is placed a fixed distance from the glass surface and rotated to create a flow field. The sequence of images shown are captured at different angular velocities of the aluminum disk. At higher velocities, cells are exposed to higher hydrodynamic stresses, and hence emit higher intensity of light. The blue streaks in the images are path lines followed by individual organisms.