West Lafayette, Indiana - Purdue University's College of Engineering has named four pre-eminent teams to focus on research ranging from drug delivery to nanomanufacturing.
The effort is part of the college's strategic growth plan that will add as many as 107 faculty over five years.
"The pre-eminent teams process helps us make informed faculty hiring decisions based on research strengths and with a focus on the potential for impact," said Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "This approach emphasizes the power of team-based research."
It is the second annual competition, which brings the total number of teams to eight. The teams are building on strengths that are already part of the college. To become pre-eminent teams, they went through a process similar to a pitch entrepreneurs would give to venture capitalists. This year 27 teams, comprising more than 150 faculty members, participated in the competition.
"The panelists were unanimous in their compliments to all of the teams for the evidence of strength, teamwork, and the impressive array of ideas," Jamieson said.
The strategic growth plan is part of Purdue Moves, a range of initiatives designed to broaden Purdue's global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students.
The four pre-eminent teams chosen will focus on:
* A research center for the manufacture of particulate products including foods and feed, consumer goods, specialty chemicals, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals and energetic materials. The team is led by Jim Litster, a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Industrial and Physical Pharmacy. The work will focus on a model-based process design to produce engineered particles and structured particulate products, develop the understanding of process-structure-function relationships for these products, and build capacity through a highly qualified workforce in particulate science and engineering. The research could impact applications in areas including drug delivery and agriculture. Particle products contribute more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, and a number of companies are headquartered in the Midwest.
* Nanomanufacturing research aimed at creating "aware-responsive" films with applications in pharmacy, agriculture, food packaging, and functional non-woven materials for uses including wound dressings and diapers. The team is led by Ali Shakouri, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center. Nanomanufacturing can bring advances such as: smart pharmaceuticals that release medications differently for specific patients; food packaging that contains sensors to monitor food quality; and cheap sensors for health monitoring.
* Research into development of new types of computer memory and electronic devices based on "spintronics." The team is led by Supriyo Datta, the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2006, the semiconductor industry and the National Science Foundation launched the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) to look for "the next transistor." Purdue researchers led by the Network for Computational Nanotechnology and the Birck Nanotechnology Center have been a visible and active part of the NRI since its inception. Conventional computers use the presence and absence of an electric charge to represent ones and zeroes in a binary code needed to carry out computations. Spintronics, however, uses the "spin state" of electrons to represent ones and zeros. Purdue could play a leading role in this new field emerging from the confluence of spintronics and nanomagnetics.
* Extreme density, low-temperature plasmas for electronics, aerospace, food science and biotechnology applications. The team is led by Sergey Macheret, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics. Low-temperature plasmas (LTP) are weakly ionized gases that are being extensively used in fluorescent lights and in microchip fabrication. New ways of generating and controlling LTP could lead to new applications ranging from medicine and food processing to enhancing aerodynamics and propulsion performance of existing and future airplanes. The ability of plasmas to interact with electromagnetic waves, combined with controllability and "tunability" of plasma characteristics, could enable novel radio-frequency devices.