Single nanomaterial yields many laser colors

Engineers at Brown University and QD Vision Inc. have created nanoscale single crystals that can produce the red, green, or blue laser light needed in digital displays. The size determines color, but all the pyramid-shaped quantum dots are made the same way of the same elements. In experiments, light amplification required much less power than previous attempts at the technology. The team’s prototypes are the first lasers of their kind.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Red, green, and blue lasers have become small and cheap enough to find their way into products ranging from BluRay DVD players to fancy pens, but each color is made with different semiconductor materials and by elaborate crystal growth processes. A new prototype technology demonstrates all three of those colors coming from one material. That could open the door to making products, such as high-performance digital displays, that employ a variety of laser colors all at once.

Vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser
Colloidal quantum dots — nanocrystals — can produce lasers of
many colors. Cuong Dang manipulates a green beam that pumps
the nanocrystals with energy, in this case producing red laser
Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University
“Today in order to create a laser display with arbitrary colors, from white to shades of pink or teal, you’d need these three separate material systems to come together in the form of three distinct lasers that in no way shape or form would have anything in common,” said Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering at Brown University and senior author of a paper describing the innovation in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. “Now enter a class of materials called semiconductor quantum dots.”

The materials in prototype lasers described in the paper are nanometer-sized semiconductor particles called colloidal quantum dots or nanocrystals with an inner core of cadmium and selenium alloy and a coating of zinc, cadmium, and sulfur alloy and a proprietary organic molecular glue. Chemists at QD Vision of Lexington, Mass., synthesize the nanocrystals using a wet chemistry process that allows them to precisely vary the nanocrystal size by varying the production time. Size is all that needs to change to produce different laser light colors: 4.2 nanometer cores produce red light, 3.2 nanometer ones emit green light and 2.5 nanometer ones shine blue. Different sizes would produce other colors along the spectrum.

The cladding and the nanocrystal structure are critical advances beyond previous attempts to make lasers with colloidal quantum dots, said lead author Cuong Dang, a senior research associate and nanophotonics laboratory manager in Nurmikko’s group at Brown. Because of their improved quantum mechanical and electrical performance, he said, the coated pyramids require 10 times less pulsed energy or 1,000 times less power to produce laser light than previous attempts at the technology.

Quantum nail polish
When chemists at QDVision brew a batch of colloidal quantum dots for Brown-designed specifications, Dang and Nurmikko get a vial of a viscous liquid that Nurmikko said somewhat resembles nail polish. To make a laser, Dang coats a square of glass — or a variety of other shapes — with the liquid. When the liquid evaporates, what’s left on the glass are several densely packed solid, highly ordered layers of the nanocrystals. By sandwiching that glass between two specially prepared mirrors, Dang creates one of the most challenging laser structures, called a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser. The Brown-led team was the first to make a working VCSEL with colloidal quantum dots.

The nanocrystals’ outer coating alloy of zinc, cadmium, sulfur and that molecular glue is important because it reduces an excited electronic state requirement for lasing and protects the nanocrystals from a kind of crosstalk that makes it hard to produce laser light, Nurmikko said. Every batch of colloidal quantum dots has a few defective ones, but normally just a few are enough to interfere with light amplification.

Faced with a high excited electronic state requirement and destructive crosstalk in a densely packed layer, previous groups have needed to pump their dots with a lot of power to push them past a higher threshold for producing light amplification, a core element of any laser. Pumping them intensely, however, gives rise to another problem: an excess of excited electronic states called excitons. When there are too many of these excitons among the quantum dots, energy that could be producing light is instead more likely to be lost as heat, mostly through a phenomenon known as the Auger process.

The nanocrystals’ structure and outer cladding reduces destructive crosstalk and lowers the energy needed to get the quantum dots to shine. That reduces the energy required to pump the quantum dot laser and significantly reduces the likelihood of exceeding the level of excitons at which the Auger process drains energy away. In addition, a benefit of the new approach’s structure is that the dots can act more quickly, releasing light before Auger process can get started, even in the rare cases when it still does start.

“We have managed to show that it’s possible to create not only light, but laser light,” Nurmikko said. “In principle, we now have some benefits: using the same chemistry for all colors, producing lasers in a very inexpensive way, relatively speaking, and the ability to apply them to all kinds of surfaces regardless of shape. That makes possible all kinds of device configurations for the future.”

In addition to Nurmikko and Dang, another author at Brown is Joonhee Lee. QD Vision authors include Craig Breen, Jonathan Steckel, and Seth Coe-Sullivan, a company co-founder who studied engineering at Brown as an undergraduate.

The US. Department of Energy, the Air Force Office for Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation supported the research. Dang is a Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) Scholar.

Three Brown Teams Named Finalists in Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

Three Brown teams, all with connections to the School of Engineering, were named finalists at the 2012 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. In total, 75 emerging entrepreneurs applied to the competition, and seven have been selected as finalists, including four in the entrepreneur track and three in the student track. All three of the finalists in the student track were from Brown and the School of Engineering.

One of the finalists, JCD Wind, was from Steve Petteruti’s Entrepreneurship I class and Entrepreneurship II classes, Engineering 1930G and Engineering 1930H. JCD Wind, included James McGinn ’12, a biomedical engineering concentrator, and Carli Wiesenfeld ’12, a commerce, organizations, and entrepreneurship (COE) concentrator. The company aims to make seamless, high strength lightweight carbon fiber turbine blades. McGinn is also a member of the men’s rugby team, and Wiesenfeld is a member of the women’s gymnastics team.

A group of four graduate students in the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME) master’s degree program were also among the semifinalists. Solar4Cents included PRIME students Sean Pennino, Bhavuk Nagpal, Xiaotong 'Peter' Shan, and Meng 'Milo' Zhang. Solar4Cents is a manufacturing company that aims to produce low-cost, thin-film copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur solar cells for solar panel manufacturers.

The third finalist in the student track is, which includes Brown undergraduates Parker Wells '12, a mechanical engineering concentrator, and Stephen Hebson '12, an economics and history double concentrator. Their plan is to produce a web app to provide a customizable stream of music for in-store use, licensing music directly from the artists and labels.

The contest will award more than $200,000 in prizes. In order to receive prizes, applicants must agree to establish or continue operations in Rhode Island. Winners will be announced on May 3 at RIBX 2012 (Business Expo) at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. The event is free and open to the public. All finalists will make brief presentations of their business plans at the Expo. Please go to www.ri-bizplan.comfor more details. Established in 2000, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has awarded more than $1 million in prizes since its inception.

For the official RI Business plan release on the competition, please go to:

For the Providence Business News story on the event, please go to:,67143?category_id=27&sub_type=stories,packages

Dilemmas Of Engineers Faced With Defective Design

Engineers toil hard to create products and processes for the benefits of the human race. They also improve the convenience in our everyday living and beautify our environment. They are the people who turn technological fantasies into reality.

However, while engineers may strive to reduce the hazards brought about by the application of new technologies, they are not always successful. Very often, it is not the technological barriers that they cannot overcome, but rather the obstacles placed by fellow human beings.

Major engineering projects in aeronautical and aerospace applications are normally very costly and time sensitive. Correcting a design defect can be very costly and time consuming. Economic cost consideration may not always permit major redesigning to be performed. In order to better appreciate the dilemmas faced by engineers when they are faced with design faults, we shall discuss two well-known cases. The first case is involving the Challenger Space Shuttle and the second case involves the DC-10 Jumbo Jet.

The Challenger Space Shuttle Case

For a better appreciate this case, some of the background information will be useful.

The main vehicle in the space shuttle is the orbiter. There are three rocket engines in the orbiter, which also contains a huge cargo bay for the space lab or for satellite that will be launched from the space shuttle. Most of the liquid hydrogen fuel needed by the rocket engines is stored in a huge external tank (which also carries oxygen to support fast combustion). The external storage tank is jettisoned after about eight and a half minutes from lift-off when the fuel is used up.

The rockets in the orbiter cannot provide sufficient power to send the shuttle into space because of the huge weight. The additional thrust during lift-off is provided by two external solid rocket boosters. Since the booster rockets are huge and long, they are manufactured in segments and the 5 segments are joined together at the launch site. These joints are called field joints since they are put together at the launch site.

The field joints are not as sturdy as those performed in the factory and the sealing is also not as reliable. The lower performance of these field joints was apparent from the various tests. Of particular was the concern that the sealing at the joint to prevent the hot rocket air from leaking at low temperature. However, the redesigning process was slow and no new design was available.

On the night before the Challenger space shuttle was to be launched on Jan 28, 1986, Morton-Thiokol, the maker of the solid rockets boosters, were worried that the solid rocket boosters might cause problem due to the cold weather. They held a teleconference with NASA managers to present their concerns and recommended that the launch be postponed till the temperature rose to a more suitable level.

The NASA managers rejected the recommendation as they believed the solid rocket boosters would be able to perform well, even at the expected low temperature of 26 degree Fahrenheit as their design called for performance at as low as 31 degree Fahrenheit. Under the pressure from NASA manager, Morton-Thiokol managers changed their recommendation to proceeding with the launch, despite the strong protests from their engineers who could not prove conclusive that the filed joints were indeed faulty.

The DC-10 Jumbo Jet Case

In 1974, the first fully loaded DC-10 jumbo jet exploded over the suburbs of Paris, killing 346 people, a record at that time for a single-plane crash. This was said to be an accident waiting to happen because it was known to the designers that the design of the plane was defective because the cargo door could burst open during flight.

The fuselage of the DC-10 jumbo subcontracted to Convair by McDonnell Douglas. Dan Applegate worked as a senior engineer in Convair directing the project. Dan wrote a memo to the vice president of Convair identifying the various dangers that could arise from the design of the fuselage. He highlighted a few potential dangers, especially with regards to the possibility of disaster due to the failure of the cargo door. He detailed how the cargo doors could burst open during flight resulting in the decompression of the cargo space, leading to the collapse the floor of the passenger cabin above. When that happens, the control lines running along the cabin floor would be damaged and the plane could not be controlled.

The senior engineer therefore recommended that the doors be designed and at the same time strengthen the cabin floor. He warned that such making the changes as he recommended would lead to some of the DC-10 cargo doors being forced open during flight and plane crash would result.

While the top management at Convair did not disagree with technical analysis or warning by Applegate, they maintained that Convair might face possible financial liabilities if they were to pass on this information to McDonnell Douglas. These liabilities could be severe since the cost of redesign and the delay to make the necessary safety improvements would be very high and would occur at a time when McDonnell Douglas would be placed at a competitive disadvantage.

There are close parallels between the two cases. Both designs were known to be flawed by the engineers who tried to alert the management but the management decisions were clouded by monetary considerations which led to the eventual loss of the crafts and the lives of the occupants. In both cases, engineering hats were removed and management hats put on.

Wei Yang PhD ‘85 among eight honorary degree recipients at Brown Commencement

During its 244th Commencement, Brown University will confer eight honorary doctorates: Carolyn Bertozzi, biochemist; Viola Davis, actress; John Lewis, civil rights leader; Marilynne Robinson, writer; Sebastian Ruth, musician; Diane Sawyer, journalist; Gene Sharp, political theorist; and Wei Yang, engineer.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Eight people who have distinguished themselves through their efforts in the arts, sciences, letters, scholarship and public service will receive honorary degrees from Brown University at Commencement on Sunday, May 27, 2012:

·         Carolyn Bertozzi, chemist and immunologist;
·         Viola Davis, actress;
·         John Lewis, civil rights leader and U.S. representative;
·         Marilynne Robinson, writer and educator;
·         Sebastian Ruth, musician and educator;
·         Diane Sawyer, broadcast journalist;
·         Gene Sharp, political theorist, scholar of nonviolent change; and
·         Wei Yang, engineer.

Honorary degrees are awarded by the University’s Board of Fellows and are conferred by the University president — in English and in Latin — during Commencement exercises on the College Green.

None of the recipients will speak at the Commencement ceremony; that honor has been reserved since the University’s earliest days for two members of the graduating class. Several of the honorands will, however, participate in Commencement forums and other public presentations during Commencement Weekend. Information about times and places for these and other Commencement presentations will be available from the
 Office of Media Relations and on the University’s 2012 Commencement webpage.
Wei Yang  
Engineer and President of Zhejiang University
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)

Wei Yang, president of China’s Zhejiang University, is an internationally celebrated engineer and materials science researcher, educator, and administrator. He is a Ph.D. graduate of Brown University.

Born in Beijing, Yang was educated in the United States and China (B.S., Northwestern Polytechnic University, 1976; M.S., Tsinghua University, 1981; Ph.D., Brown University, 1985). Four years after earning his Ph.D., Yang was promoted to a full professor of engineering at Tsinghua University, the youngest person ever to achieve that rank.

In addition to continuing an active and very productive career as a research engineer in fracture mechanics, mechatronic reliability, and micro/nanomechanics (11 books and 211 technical papers in internationally refereed journals), Yang has served in a number of national and international positions as an educator and administrator. He became director of the Failure Mechanics Laboratory of the Chinese Ministry of Education in 1993. For seven years (1997–2004), he headed the Department of Engineering Mechanics at Tsinghua, also serving for a time as executive dean of the Aerospace School. From 2004 to 2006, he served as director-general of the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council of China and also headed the Directorate of Graduate Education. He began as president of Zhejiang University, one of China’s largest and oldest universities, in 2006.

As head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Technological Science Division, Yang has had extensive international scientific experience. He has served as regional editor for several journals in the field of composite materials and has been on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Fracture, Fatigue & Fracture of Engineering Materials & Structures, and the Archive of Applied Mechanics, among several others. Early in 2009, Yang became widely known for a stern and dedicated fight against scientific misconduct, dealing strictly with researchers found to have engaged in misconduct and proactively developing training programs to support scientific integrity. Organizations and journals,Nature among them, praised his zero tolerance policies.

Yang has supported and worked for collaborations with universities in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore and elsewhere. His own postgraduate students — more than 40 of them — have extended his international reach. More than 10 of them hold engineering faculty positions in the United States and Europe. He has been honored extensively for his efforts, including the 2009 Brown University Engineering Alumni Medal.

Five Brown Teams Named Semifinalists in Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

Five Brown teams, including three with connections to the School of Engineering, were named semifinalists at the 2012 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. In total, 75 emerging entrepreneurs applied to the competition, and 13 were selected as semifinalists, including seven in the entrepreneur track and six in the student track. Five of the six semifinalists in the student track were from Brown, including three teams from the School of Engineering.

Two teams from Steve Petteruti’s Entrepreneurship I class and Entrepreneurship II classes, Engineering 1930G and Engineering 1930H, were among the semifinalists. JCD Wind, included James McGinn ’12, a biomedical engineering concentrator, and Carli Wiesenfeld ’12, a commerce, organizations, and entrepreneurship (COE) concentrator. The company aims to make seamless, high strength lightweight carbon fiber turbine blades. McGinn is also a member of the men’s rugby team, and Wiesenfeld is a member of the women’s gymnastics team.

Another semifinalist was CityBase Security, which included Julianne Bishop ’12 and Joschka Tryba ’12, who are both COE concentrators. Their company hopes to provide a map-based platform that will integrate communication and information systems for both emergency responders and public reporting of incidents/crimes.

A group of four graduate students in the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME) master’s degree program were also among the semifinalists. Solar4Cents included PRIME students Sean Pennino, Bhavuk Nagpal, Xiaotong 'Peter' Shan, and Meng 'Milo' Zhang. Solar4Cents is a manufacturing company that aims to produce low-cost, thin-film copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur solar cells for solar panel manufacturers.

The contest will award more than $200,000 in prizes. In order to receive prizes, applicants must agree to establish or continue operations in Rhode Island. Winners will be announced on May 3. Please go to for more details. Established in 2000, the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition has awarded more than $1 million in prizes since its inception.

For the official RI Business plan release on the competition, please go to:

For the Providence Business News story on the event, please go to:,66767?category_id=27&sub_type=stories,packages

For the story, please go to:

Bats save energy by drawing in wings on upstroke

Bat wings are like hands: meaty, bony and full of joints. A new Brown University study finds that bats take advantage of their flexibility by folding in their wings on the upstroke to save inertial energy. The research suggests that engineers looking at flapping flight should account for wing mass and consider a folding design.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Whether people are building a flying machine or nature is evolving one, there is pressure to optimize efficiency. A new analysis by biologists, physicists, and engineers at Brown University reveals the subtle but important degree to which that pressure has literally shaped the flapping wings of bats.

The team’s observations and calculations show that by flexing their wings inward to their bodies on the upstroke, bats use only 65 percent of the inertial energy they would expend if they kept their wings fully outstretched. Unlike insects, bats have heavy, muscular wings with hand-like bendable joints. The study suggests that they use their flexibility to compensate for that mass.

“Wing mass is important and it’s normally not considered in flight,” said Attila Bergou, who along with Daniel Riskin is co-lead author of the study that appears April 11 in theProceedings of the Royal Society B. “Typically you analyze lift, drag, and you don’t talk about the energy of moving the wings.”

The findings not only help explain why bats and some birds tuck in their wings on the upstroke, but could also help inform human designers of small flapping vehicles. The team’s research is funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Sponsored Research.

“If you have a vehicle that has heavy wings, it would become energetically beneficial to fold the wings on the upstroke,” said Sharon Swartz, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown. She and Kenneth Breuer, professor of engineering, are senior authors on the paper.

The physics of flexed flapping
The team originally set out to study something different: how wing motions vary among bats along a wide continuum of sizes. They published those results in 2010 in the Journal of Experimental Biology, but as they analyzed the data further, they started to consider the intriguing pattern of the inward flex on the upstroke.

That curiosity gave them a new perspective on their 1,000 frames-per-second videos of 27 bats performing five trials each aloft in a flight corridor or wind tunnel. They tracked markers on the bats, who hailed from six species, and measured how frequently the wings flapped, how far up and down they flapped, and the distribution of mass within them as they moved. They measured the mass by cutting the wing of a bat that had died into 32 pieces and weighing them.

The team fed the data in to a calculus-rich model that allowed them to determine what the inertial energy costs of flapping were and what they would have been if the wings were kept outstretched.

Bergou, a physicisist, said he was surprised that the energy savings was so great, especially because the calculations also showed that the bats have to spend a lot of energy — 44 percent of the total inertial cost of flapping — to fold their wings inward and then back outward ahead of the downstroke.

“Retracting your wings has an inertial cost,” Bergou said. “It is significant but it is outweighed by the savings on the up and down stroke.”

The conventional wisdom has always been that bats drew their wings in on the upstroke to reduce drag in the air, and although the team did not measure that, they acknowledge that aerodynamics plays the bigger role in the overall energy budget of flying. But the newly measured inertial savings of drawing in the wings on the upstroke seems too significant to be an accident.

“It really is an open question whether natural selection is so intense on the design and movement patterns of bats that it reaches details of how bats fold their wings,” Swartz said. “This certainly suggests that this is not a random movement pattern and that it is likely that there is an energetic benefit to animals doing this.”

- by David Orenstein

Sen. Reed, federal and state officials tour Brown’s Superfund lab

Sen. Jack Reed, accompanied by the New England regional director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the directors of the state’s environmental and health departments, visited Brown University’s Superfund Research Program Monday, April 9, 2012. The Brown program is one of 14 research groups funded by the National Institutes of Health.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the New England regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the directors of the state departments of Environmental Management and Health, visited Brown University’s Superfund Research Program Monday, April 9. 2012. The Brown lab is one of 14 research groups funded by the National Institutes of Health to assess and remediate Superfund sites nationwide.

Brown’s Superfund research group has been in operation since 2005. The program has brought in some $43 million in funding to Rhode Island since then, creating or supporting 45 jobs in the Ocean State. The group is working on the Centredale Manor Superfund site in Providence, the Gorham Manufacturing site in Providence, and the well-publicized soil contamination affecting residential properties in the Bay Street neighborhood in Tiverton. In these cases, scientists and students have tracked the flow of hazardous gases from contaminated sites, identified and tested toxic chemicals, worked with community and neighborhood associations and state and federal agencies to clean up contaminated areas, and offered insights into how chemicals can alter human health and reproduction.

“Rhode Island is a small, densely populated state with a proud industrial heritage, yet burdened by a toxic legacy,” said Kim Boekelheide, professor of medical science and a member of Brown’s Superfund research group. “Brown’s Superfund Research Program is a center of technical excellence, where we focus on new scientific approaches to clean up our post-industrial legacy of contaminated sites here in the Ocean State and throughout the nation.”

Reed toured the Brown group’s facility in the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, 70 Ship St. in Providence, at 12:30 p.m. He was accompanied by Gwen Collman, director of extramural research and training, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the program’s primary funder; Curt Spalding, New England administrator for the EPA; Janet Coit, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management director; and Michael Fine, Rhode Island Department of Health director. Brown Provost Mark Schlissel also toured the facility.

The agenda for the visit is available online.

“Putting people to work to reduce the negative impacts of abandoned hazardous waste sites is a smart investment to protect public health, the environment, and our economy,” said Reed. “I am pleased that Brown’s federally funded Superfund Research Program is working through targeted research and community outreach to address health concerns and design novel techniques to reduce toxic chemicals at Superfund sites in Rhode Island.”

In addition to working on contaminated sites in Rhode Island, the Brown Superfund Research Program connects to Superfund sites nationwide, primarily through research. Specifically, the group has:
  • Devised a computational model with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to track the flow of contaminant vapors from groundwater and soil into homes and businesses. The model has been tested at the Gorham site in Rhode Island and is currently being tested at a hazardous waste site in Somerville, Mass.
  • Investigated the potential environmental hazards from consumer products using nanomaterials (dimensions one-billionth of a meter, or 1/50,000th the width of a human hair). Current projects are looking at the release of nanosilver into sewer systems, how nanomaterials break down in landfills and how they infiltrate human lungs.
  • Studied the effects of chemicals on human sperm and human female reproduction, especially pregnant women and chemically induced premature births.
Superfund-sized clean-up
Postdoctoral Researcher Pengpeng Grimshaw takes samples
from a Rhode Island riverbank to assess possible contaminant
levels and study novel cleanup processes that have been
developed in a Superfund lab at Brown.
The Brown Superfund Program has created innovative ways to connect with local communities and develop the next generation of environmental leaders. The centerpiece of this effort is the Community Environmental College, an eight-week summer leadership program for inner-city youth. Last year, nearly 50 urban high-school students, primarily in Providence and Pawtucket, engaged in various activities to raise community awareness of the environment, ranging from enlisting Latino restaurants to supply used vegetable oil for biodiesel fuel, recycling mattresses, and encouraging convenience stores to stock healthier food. Brown students work with youth and community groups on myriad projects, including a year-round after-school program called ECO Youth, weatherizing homes and the “Hospitals for a Healthy Environment in Rhode Island” programs, which promotes cost-effective, healthy, and sustainable health-care institutions.

“Through our Community Engagement Core, we help local groups clean up contaminated land and work with legislators and regulators to strengthen state policies on brownfields, school siting, and various environmental justice issues,” said Phil Brown, professor of sociology at Brown and a researcher with the Superfund Research Program. “I am excited about our engagement with so many high school students in the Community Environmental College, as they learn so much and apply themselves to the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, weatherization, green transportation, and other critical concerns.”

The Brown Superfund Research Program is up for renewed funding in 2014. The renewal comes amid a competitive landscape; a decade ago, the federal Superfund Research Program supported 21 such programs nationwide.

“Continued funding will allow us to improve the prediction of the health risks associated with complex chemical exposures and devise new remediation strategies for contaminated sites,” Boekelheide said.

- by Richard Lewis

Brown’s Barrett Hazeltine Named one of America’s “Best 300 Professors” by The Princeton Review

Legendary engineering professor Barrett Hazeltine has been recognized by The Princeton Review as one America’s top undergraduate professors in its latest guidebook, The Best 300 Professors. The book profiles professors in 60 fields based on surveys by The Princeton Review and ratings on, the highest trafficked college professor ratings site in the country.

Data from identified more than 42,000 professors, and was culled down to a base list of 1,000 professors. After obtaining further input from university administrators and students, along with The Princeton Review’s surveys of the professors under consideration, the editors of The Princeton Review made the final choices of the professors.

Professor Hazeltine has taught engineering, management, and technology courses at Brown for more than 50 years, and currently teaches Management of Industrial and Non-Profit Organizations, Managerial Decision Making, and Appropriate Technology. He received awards for teaching from thirteen senior classes at Brown, 1972 to 1984, and 1990. In 1985, the award was named after him.

Simple method could aid in medical imaging, chemotherapy

Researchers, led by Robert Hurt, professor of engineering, have found that a simple technique can swathe nanoparticles with a blanket of graphene, which could carry medical imaging contrast agents, allowing the nanoparticles to enhance imaging signals while shielding tissue from their potential toxic effects. They could also deliver chemotherapy drugs to tumors.

Full report online:

Full paper:

The Role of Private Enterprise in Putting Man into Space

Has NASA, the monolithic space agency, failed in it's quest to put man out into the cosmos? Will profit coupled with man's need to explore be the driving engine which sends man into the cosmos? Think about what has moved technology forward within the American society over the past 100 years or so. Was Orville and Wilbur Wright employed by the government. Of course not. Most of their research and development for the invention of the airplane took place within a small bike shop in western Dayton, Ohio, the birth place of aviation. Thomas Edison, who is accredited with 1,093 patents earning him the nickname "The Wizard of Menlo Park" used his own money to build the Menlo Park research labs in New Jersey. In 1889, Thomas Edison established the Edison General Electric Company. Thomas Edison is considered the most prolific inventor of our time and his inventions were created within the realm of private enterprise.

Did the seed for the invention of the personal computer germinate within a government lab? The invention of the personal computer came from an assortment of various inventions and from the tinkering of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Job's garage in an area now called Silicon Valley, the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. Their tinkering led to the development of Apple Computers. The story of Bill Gates and the development of the Microsoft family of operating systems took place within private enterprise. The Windows family of operating systems is the most widely used on earth and has been a major player in bringing information technology to the developed world.

Examples of major technological advancement within the realm of private enterprise are numerous. Most major technological advancements within society have occurred outside the purview of government intervention. Governments were intended to govern the people. The government's role is to preserve the environment of freedom and democracy so that intellectual curiosity can flourish within this environment. The government's role is also to provide funding, and should not be in the nuts and bolts operation of putting man into space. The ingenuity of man within the realm of private enterprise has resulted in most of the technological advancements we enjoy today.

The cosmos will be explored by man operating from the base of private enterprise and the technology needed to explore the cosmos will be developed within that enterprise. Why is this so? NASA is an agency driven by fear of tragedy. More mishaps will decrease the probability of sufficient government funding. This cycle of fear, mishaps, and the hope for continual funding is one that seems to have no end. But mishaps are part of the business of putting explorers into space. What can better withstand the expected mishaps. A government agency or private enterprise. If a private enterprise fails, it's competitor can step in to fill the gap and the engine of private enterprise can continue to push man into space. NASA is not a private enterprise competing within the world market place.

NASA is not what it used to be during the Apollo days. Given it's current mind set and culture, it will be difficult within this framework to send man out into the cosmos as true explorers. They have given the nuts and bolts of putting man into space to private contractors. But these NASA contractors have the same NASA mind set because they are under the dominion of NASA. There is a fear of mishaps within contractors without true competition within the market place. NASA awards contracts to the lowest bidder. Does the lowest bidder provide the highest level of safety. Once a company is awarded a contract, they remain a NASA contractor for many years and simply become an extension of NASA. Therefore NASA becomes a autocratic agency with it's arms extending outward to many companies. NASA's manned space flight program can do no more then low earth orbit. Year after year of low earth orbit does not excite the American people. Astronauts today are no longer household names. An American president here and there will give a speech saying we are going to Mars. Even President Bush's January 14, 2004 speech seems to have already been forgotten by the American public.

When we went to the moon this was the start of an exploration. A goal was set on May 25, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, during a speech before a Joint Session of Congress, to reach the moon before the end of the decade. NASA kicked into high gear and achieved one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of mankind. We took the first step into space and then just stopped. Since then all of the manned space missions have never gone beyond low earth orbit, and the American public becomes bored easily. To gain the American interest and support of the Apollo days, we must send true explorers out into space. NASA wants to take such small, time consuming incremental steps that by the time comes when the really exciting work begins, the American support and interest may be eroded to the point where NASA may no longer have the financial means by which to accomplish such an endeavor. Hence, the need for private enterprise to accomplish such an endeavor. If we are going to go into the cosmos, then lets do it and stop the futile activity.

A private enterprise is not a bureaucracy. If safety issues arise from qualified personnel within a bureaucracy, these issues may not resonate to the proper people within the organization. A case in point, the knowledge of a strong potential for a O-ring failure at low temperatures between the segments for the solid rocket boosters of the space shuttle, existed within the bureaucracy of NASA before the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. More specifically, this critical information in terms of probability of O-ring compromise was expressed by engineers at Morton Thiokol, the contractor for the development and production of the solid rocket boosters. This information never percolated upward from Morton Thiokol to the proper people within the NASA organization.

In private enterprise, which is non-bureaucratic by nature, a relatively small group of people are working toward a common goal. In this situation, safety issues which arise will be known by all members of the organization. Safety issues will not get lost in a bureaucracy. NASA depends on it's contractors to deliver a high level of safety. A private enterprise depends on itself to provide a high level of safety. The structure of a private enterprise is more suited to the endeavor of sending out explorers into space. The government should award grants to the most promising companies with the understanding that the sending out of explorers into space does indeed benefit mankind.

Americans are at their best when they compete. Competition is an integral component of American society. What was the driving force that put us on the moon. It was the competition with the Russians. At the present moment in time, this type of competition does not exist. Although, it appears as if China may be a future competitor. Americans need to compete to accomplish something. It is competition which drives the advancement of technology. Why not let companies compete for government funding and let the research and development occur within these companies, and most importantly let them compete. These companies can have the same characteristics of any company that wants to produce a viable product. They will not be under contract from NASA and will operate as a separate private enterprise entity. A company can make money from space tourism and the same company can be involved in sending explorers out into space. Government grants can be awarded based on how strong the potential exists for space exploration. A company can be involved in space tourism, exploration, or can provide a research and development platform. This is the future of man's endeavor into space.

Man will be exploring the cosmos with private enterprise being the driving engine. If one enterprise fails, one of the competing enterprises will win out. Sure there will be some disasters and risks will be taken because that is the nature of the business. But when unfortunate disasters or mishaps do occur, the private enterprise engine will not grind to a complete halt. Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites team have taken the first steps toward this archetypical dream of exploring the cosmos, and they did it with a fraction of the budget that NASA uses and with a team of 130 or so people to boot. They won the Ansari X-Prize by sending a man into space and returning him safely to earth and then they repeated this within two weeks. An absolutely unbelievable accomplishment given the facilities and resources which were available to them. This could only occur within a society where freedom and democracy are regarded as a right to all individuals. The United States is such a society.

Burt Rutan has said that he has never worked a day in his life. He only plays. His passion for his work is what produces results. Burt Rutan and his team represent the core of what makes the United States the greatest country in the world. May be terrorist can get it through their thick heads that freedom does work. Most importantly, Scaled Composites has shown the world what private enterprise can accomplish. Even if Scaled Composite's endeavors never go beyond earth orbit, they have taken the first step within the proper mind set and culture, and this is what will put man into the cosmos. This mind set and culture of pure unadulterated intellectual curiosity is what really will put man into the cosmos. Not NASA's mind set of fear.

NASA has played it's important role by lighting the torch in sending man to the moon. We are now at a point in the history of mankind where that torch should be passed to private enterprise. The developer of the Ansari X-Prize I'm sure shares my thoughts. God has placed the planets and all the stars within the universe there for a reason. It is God's intention for us to move outward into the final frontier. We do this to fulfill the natural curiosity that God has given to us and in the process we better the lot of mankind. Lets go...

Copyright © space engineering. All Rights Reserved.
Blogger Template designed by Big Homes.