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News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Custom Computer Specialists (“Custom”) a leading IT services provider, announced today that Rick Cadiz, Director of Sales at Custom, has been invited by Future Ready Schools – New Jersey to join their Technology Support and Services task force. Future Ready Schools – New Jersey Certification Program is a partnership of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), and the New Jersey School Boards Association. Future Ready Schools – New Jersey helps NJ K12 public, private, and charter school leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential. A major component of their mission is to ensure that the expertise, experience, and resources from a wide variety of individuals and organizations are incorporated into the development of their certification program. They have established three task forces — Education and Classroom Practice, Technology Support and Services, and Leadership — to identify actions that schools in New Jersey can take to prepare their students for success in a digital age. The task forces will help identify the resources needed for schools to achieve these Future Ready actions, and develop the metrics and evidence with which they can verify that schools are successfully implementing these actions. "The Future Ready Schools – NJ task forces are essential to ensuring that the experience, expertise, and voices of educators, educational leaders and all stakeholder groups from throughout New Jersey and beyond are incorporated into the certification program. This will ensure that we provide the guidance, support, and resources the schools need to foster graduates and prepare them to succeed in a world where digital technology is omnipresent,” said Jeremy Reich, Future Ready Schools – NJ Project Lead. “Having representatives of organizations such as Custom Computer Specialists involved in the task force enables us to offer an array of resources from a variety of vendors and sources for each Future Ready action they propose, providing schools with potential means to achieve their Future Ready goals." “We are very excited to be partnering with Future Ready Schools in New Jersey and I’m honored to be part of their Technology Support and Services task force,” says Rick Cadiz, Director of Sales at Custom. “It speaks to Custom’s experience and expertise in providing, managing and supporting the technologies that inspire students in 3500 districts today.” About Custom Computer Specialists Founded in 1979, Custom Computer Specialists helps Northeast public and private sector clients get maximum value from their IT investments. Custom’s unique combination of privately owned flexibility and extensive IT capability empowers it to architect client-centric solutions that deliver results. http://www.customtech.com


Mr. Paul Singh, Partner & Co-Founder of CERTUS+ will deliver a presentation titled “Adaptive Execution: Program Methodology focusing on Fast and Iterative Progress” at the PMI RAC 2017 at IIT New Delhi, India from 2nd to 4th March, 2017. Paul Singh, who enables organizations’ strategy execution projects, stated, “Organizations ranging from non-profits to Fortune 50, across various industries have benefitted from the successful adoption and implementation of Adaptive Execution.” He added, “Adaptive Execution enables organizations to meet all three goals of a project- Cost, Timing and Quality. This approach is especially relevant for today’s Indian firms. Adaptive execution can enable up-to 3x productivity increase for such firms, to negate the slow-down in GDP caused by de-monetization. Simply put, Adaptive Execution ‘Gets Stuff Done.” Stating the benefits of Adaptive Execution over other methods of Project Management, Mr. Singh said, “Adaptive Execution breaks down complex tasks into smaller chunks. This method of Project Management overcomes the challenges that Waterfall methodology of Project Management fails to address, namely– lack of transparency, delayed resolution of blockers and dealing with change in scope & requirements.” Paul Singh further disclosed, “Adaptive execution overcomes the undue stress that organizational resources face due to late/ delayed changes in projects, irresponsible launch of untested products and a fear of pushing back on scope changes because of the pressure to appear ‘Agile’.” Atul Kalia, Partner & Co-Founder CERTUS+, commented, “In a recent survey of 100+ leaders from 75+ organizations from all over the world, over 90% of the respondents stated that developing project management competency to enable their teams and organizations success was a top priority for them.” Mr. Kalia, continued, “The journey from traditional project management to Adaptive Execution is required to build the competency that these leaders desire. This journey is intense and truly transformational for organizations and can provide a significant competitive edge in terms of cost advantage, speed to market and quality.” Mr. Kalia further commented, “More than processes, tools or techniques, Adaptive Execution is enabled by a mind-set change.” CERTUS+, an Ann Arbor, MI based firm provides Digital Transformation services to small-mid size clients in media & entertainment, consumer goods, logistics & transportation, education, airlines, insurance, automotive and diversified manufacturing industries. Paul is Partner & Co-founder of CERTUS+ with 20 plus years of experience in leading strategic initiatives from concept to impact. He has an MBA from Ross School of Business, Michigan & M.S. in Design Optimization from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Atul is Partner & Co-founder of CERTUS+ with 20 plus years of experience in project management, leadership development and leading projects from concept to production. He is M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park & M.B.A. from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: phys.org

In a paper published last week in Nature Communications, "Dynamical Majorana edge modes in a broad class of topological mechanical systems," the researchers report the discovery of a large class of materials with such capabilities. "Remarkably, we believe these properties may be present in many materials composed of dimers, a chemical structure in which two similar masses are linked to one another through a rigid, nearly unstretchable bond. Dimers make up the building blocks of many cellular components and so it appears that storing energy in this way is a strategy that a variety of cells use on a daily basis in many living organisms," notes Camelia Prodan, associate professor of physics at NJIT and an author of the paper. "This research could be used to explain cell behavior that is not yet fully understood," she adds. The paper stems from research funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation awarded last year to Prodan and her collaborator, Emil Prodan, professor of physics at Yeshiva University, to research the role of topological phonon edges in the functioning of microtubules—the skeletal material in eukaryotic cells. Phonon edges are quanta of sound or vibrational energy confined to the edge or surface of a material. The Prodans are particularly interested in how microtubules store energy at their edge that is not propagated in their cylinder-shaped bodies. Majorana edge modes are the equivalent of a type of subatomic particle - Majorana fermions - that appear in some types of superconductors. They are the energetic vibrations that appear at the edge of a material that cannot be destroyed by the environment or by the material breaking. They are exploring the potential to engineer new materials with novel physical properties based on topological phonon edge modes. "Ultimately, we would like to create materials that mimic this property - the ability to restrict energy to an edge - to enhance earthquake resistance in buildings or the protection of bullet proof vests, for example," she says. "We also think this property may be the key to a new generation of anti-cancer agents, because of the role topological phonons may play in cell division. Microtubules must fall apart before a cell can divide. Chemotherapy currently works by preventing cells from dividing, but recurrent cancers find a way to weaken these defenses." Working with nanotechnology experts at NJIT, Reginald Farrow, research professor of physics, and Alokik Kanwal, assistant research professor, they hope to provide the first experimental verification of the key role that these topological phonons play in many fundamental cellular processes, including cell division and movement. In addition, based on the results of their study of microtubules and topological phonon edge modes, the research team will seek to predict and fabricate a new class of materials called topological phononic crystals, with applications ranging from energy-efficient solar cells, to sound deadening and amplification, to insulation. More information: Emil Prodan et al, Dynamical Majorana edge modes in a broad class of topological mechanical systems, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14587


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A little-understood biological property that appears to allow cell components to store energy on their outer edges is the possible key to developing a new class of materials and devices to collect, store and manage energy for a variety of applications, a team of researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Yeshiva University has proposed. In a paper published last week in Nature Communications, "Dynamical Majorana edge modes in a broad class of topological mechanical systems," the researchers report the discovery of a large class of materials with such capabilities. "Remarkably, we believe these properties may be present in many materials composed of dimers, a chemical structure in which two similar masses are linked to one another through a rigid, nearly unstretchable bond. Dimers make up the building blocks of many cellular components and so it appears that storing energy in this way is a strategy that a variety of cells use on a daily basis in many living organisms," notes Camelia Prodan, associate professor of physics at NJIT and an author of the paper. "This research could be used to explain cell behavior that is not yet fully understood," she adds. The paper stems from research funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation awarded last year to Prodan and her collaborator, Emil Prodan, professor of physics at Yeshiva University, to research the role of topological phonon edges in the functioning of microtubules -- the skeletal material in eukaryotic cells. Phonon edges are quanta of sound or vibrational energy confined to the edge or surface of a material. The Prodans are particularly interested in how microtubules store energy at their edge that is not propagated in their cylinder-shaped bodies. Majorana edge modes are the equivalent of a type of subatomic particle - Majorana fermions - that appear in some types of superconductors. They are the energetic vibrations that appear at the edge of a material that cannot be destroyed by the environment or by the material breaking. They are exploring the potential to engineer new materials with novel physical properties based on topological phonon edge modes. "Ultimately, we would like to create materials that mimic this property - the ability to restrict energy to an edge - to enhance earthquake resistance in buildings or the protection of bullet proof vests, for example," she says. "We also think this property may be the key to a new generation of anti-cancer agents, because of the role topological phonons may play in cell division. Microtubules must fall apart before a cell can divide. Chemotherapy currently works by preventing cells from dividing, but recurrent cancers find a way to weaken these defenses." Working with nanotechnology experts at NJIT, Reginald Farrow, research professor of physics, and Alokik Kanwal, assistant research professor, they hope to provide the first experimental verification of the key role that these topological phonons play in many fundamental cellular processes, including cell division and movement. In addition, based on the results of their study of microtubules and topological phonon edge modes, the research team will seek to predict and fabricate a new class of materials called topological phononic crystals, with applications ranging from energy-efficient solar cells, to sound deadening and amplification, to insulation. Kanwal, Kyle Dobiszewski '09, Ph.D. '13, associate director of research initiatives for the Albert Dorman Honors College, and John Palmieri '17, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, are co-authors of the article. One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, nearing $140 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Six different cuisines with 30 combos all served hot within 90 seconds, and patrons need only pick, swipe and eat. That's what Frshly, a fully automated "vend-café" and the brainchild of NJIT alumnus Satish ChamyVelumani, provides to a growing number of hungry consumers on the move through India's railway system and airports. It's an offer the tech startup, established in 2013, calls "plated happiness." Here's how Frshly works: Customers desiring fresh, hot food from popular local restaurants choose from a selection of stocked menu items at a Frshly state-of-the-art dispensing machine. The company's proprietary technology, a "recipe" of robotics and algorithms, then enables the quick procurement, takeaway-friendly wrapping and prompt delivery of the order. To ensure that the food is always fresh, Frshly restocks the dispensing machine regularly. The meals "are packed according to the given specifications for every mealtime at the participating restaurant kitchens and then are transported to the Frshly outlets where they are stacked," explained ChamyVelumani. "This is as good as any convenience store where products are pre-stacked based on predictive demand analysis." Customers also can place an order, as well as specify a pickup location and time, via the free Frshly app, available from the Apple and Google Play stores. The app secures their meal until they collect it, at which time the dispenser reheats and serves it. The cost for Frshly meals ranges from Rs 59-159 in Indian currency (approximately $1-$2.50). ChamyVelumani has introduced Frshly in three cities in India: Bengaluru, Chennai and Secunderabad. Each market features different cuisine. "The idea is to serve the brands from the cities in which we operate," ChamyVelumani noted. "Frshly is an ecosystem for multiple restaurants to get on board and reach out to new customers. Even though Frshly is an aggregation platform, the brands that participate are curated based on the market demand." In addition to train stations and the Chennai International Airport, the company also has a presence at information technology parks and large information technology companies and commercial technical support locations -- a pipeline ChamyVelumani describes as strong. The Frshly journey, from "back of the napkin" concept sketches to the first customer making a selection, took ChamyVelumani two-and-a-half years to complete. He faced some challenges along the way, particularly with building the interface between the ordering app, the dispenser and the enterprise resource planning system. "With Frshly, every single thing had to be developed from scratch," he said. "There were a lot of dependencies. We are talking about an entire ecosystem here, including hardware." Fortunately, pitching Frshly to the Indian Railways Network and airport authorities proved much easier. Indian Railways had been searching for an innovation in the food and beverage space and Frshly fit the bill. A successful pilot in Chennai Central Railway Station followed and since then Frshly has opened two more stores in India, with a third and possibly more poised to launch this year. Frshly may even find its way soon inside the compartments on long-distance trains. "First" is certainly a recurring theme of the Frshly story. The business is a first of its kind and the first commercial venture for ChamyVelumani, who is the first in his family to become an entrepreneur. All in all, he said, it "has been a great ride so far." Before returning to his home country to start Frshly, he worked in the manufacturing industry in the U.S. for 11 years in a variety of engineering roles at 3M Purification Inc. (formerly CUNO Incorporated). And just before joining 3M, he earned his M.S. in manufacturing systems engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT); he also holds an MBA in global enterprise management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "I was working in India as a mechanical engineer for about two years, mostly doing 2D drafting and 3D modeling. I became bored of that work and I didn't think those jobs were paving the way for me to achieve my future dreams. I wanted to get a broader exposure to manufacturing and through my friends I heard about the manufacturing systems engineering course that was offered at NJIT," offered ChamyVelumani, who arrived at the university in 2000. "Overall, the course work was an eye opener. I particularly enjoyed my design-for-manufacturing classes with [Professor Sanchoy] Das." To further improve service, ChamyVelumani and his Frshly staff -- about 60 people including store owners -- are fielding recommendations for new cuisines and meal quantities from customers, who on the whole have appreciated the convenience of getting their favorite food brands at the touch of a button. Looking ahead, Frshly is expanding its operations into Singapore this March and also working to set up stand-alone dispensers for several large food brands. ChamyVelumani's vision for his company includes moves into other Asia Pacific countries, the Middle East and ultimately North America. ChamyVelumani encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to dream big and work hard. He credits his NJIT education with helping shape him into who he is today. "My master's program put an entire business sense of things in my head," he reflected. "I always say this: 'It is not the subjects that we study, but it is the application that makes the difference.' NJIT helped me with learning the application." For more information on Frshly, visit http://gofrshly. . One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT is among the top U.S. polytechnic public universities in research expenditures, nearing $140 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: phys.org

Here's how Frshly works: Customers desiring fresh, hot food from popular local restaurants choose from a selection of stocked menu items at a Frshly state-of-the-art dispensing machine. The company's proprietary technology, a "recipe" of robotics and algorithms, then enables the quick procurement, takeaway-friendly wrapping and prompt delivery of the order. To ensure that the food is always fresh, Frshly restocks the dispensing machine regularly. The meals "are packed according to the given specifications for every mealtime at the participating restaurant kitchens and then are transported to the Frshly outlets where they are stacked," explained ChamyVelumani. "This is as good as any convenience store where products are pre-stacked based on predictive demand analysis." Customers also can place an order, as well as specify a pickup location and time, via the free Frshly app, available from the Apple and Google Play stores. The app secures their meal until they collect it, at which time the dispenser reheats and serves it. The cost for Frshly meals ranges from Rs 59-159 in Indian currency (approximately $1-$2.50). ChamyVelumani has introduced Frshly in three cities in India: Bengaluru, Chennai and Secunderabad. Each market features different cuisine. "The idea is to serve the brands from the cities in which we operate," ChamyVelumani noted. "Frshly is an ecosystem for multiple restaurants to get on board and reach out to new customers. Even though Frshly is an aggregation platform, the brands that participate are curated based on the market demand." In addition to train stations and the Chennai International Airport, the company also has a presence at information technology parks and large information technology companies and commercial technical support locations—a pipeline ChamyVelumani describes as strong. The Frshly journey, from "back of the napkin" concept sketches to the first customer making a selection, took ChamyVelumani two-and-a-half years to complete. He faced some challenges along the way, particularly with building the interface between the ordering app, the dispenser and the enterprise resource planning system. "With Frshly, every single thing had to be developed from scratch," he said. "There were a lot of dependencies. We are talking about an entire ecosystem here, including hardware." Fortunately, pitching Frshly to the Indian Railways Network and airport authorities proved much easier. Indian Railways had been searching for an innovation in the food and beverage space and Frshly fit the bill. A successful pilot in Chennai Central Railway Station followed and since then Frshly has opened two more stores in India, with a third and possibly more poised to launch this year. Frshly may even find its way soon inside the compartments on long-distance trains. "First" is certainly a recurring theme of the Frshly story. The business is a first of its kind and the first commercial venture for ChamyVelumani, who is the first in his family to become an entrepreneur. All in all, he said, it "has been a great ride so far." Before returning to his home country to start Frshly, he worked in the manufacturing industry in the U.S. for 11 years in a variety of engineering roles at 3M Purification Inc. (formerly CUNO Incorporated). And just before joining 3M, he earned his M.S. in manufacturing systems engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT); he also holds an MBA in global enterprise management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "I was working in India as a mechanical engineer for about two years, mostly doing 2D drafting and 3D modeling. I became bored of that work and I didn't think those jobs were paving the way for me to achieve my future dreams. I wanted to get a broader exposure to manufacturing and through my friends I heard about the manufacturing systems engineering course that was offered at NJIT," offered ChamyVelumani, who arrived at the university in 2000. "Overall, the course work was an eye opener. I particularly enjoyed my design-for-manufacturing classes with [Professor Sanchoy] Das." To further improve service, ChamyVelumani and his Frshly staff—about 60 people including store owners—are fielding recommendations for new cuisines and meal quantities from customers, who on the whole have appreciated the convenience of getting their favorite food brands at the touch of a button. Looking ahead, Frshly is expanding its operations into Singapore this March and also working to set up stand-alone dispensers for several large food brands. ChamyVelumani's vision for his company includes moves into other Asia Pacific countries, the Middle East and ultimately North America. ChamyVelumani encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to dream big and work hard. He credits his NJIT education with helping shape him into who he is today. "My master's program put an entire business sense of things in my head," he reflected. "I always say this: 'It is not the subjects that we study, but it is the application that makes the difference.' NJIT helped me with learning the application." Explore further: Why restaurants want you to order food on your phone More information: For more information on Frshly, visit gofrshly.com


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2013

ABSTRACT: In this Phase I STTR project, we propose to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a low cost, compact, time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) spectrometer specifically for the characterization of semiconductor materials over a range of temperatures, electric fields, and magnetic fields. In phase I, we will configure fiber optic coupled TD-THz instrumentation to make measurements on a sample using a commercial, off the shelf (COTS) optical cryostat and with variable electrical and magnetic field. We will specify analysis methods to determine relevant semiconductor parameters such as doping concentrations and carrier mobility from the THz spectral data. We will demonstrate these methods by collecting and analyzing the THz spectra of representative semiconductor samples as a function of temperature, electric field and magnetic field. In this Phase I STTR project, we propose to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a low cost, compact, time-domain terahertz (TD-THz) spectrometer specifically for the characterization of semiconductor materials over a range of temperatures, electric fields, and magnetic fields. In phase I, we will configure fiber optic coupled TD-THz instrumentation to make measurements on representative semiconductor samples using a commercial, off the shelf (COTS) optical cryostat and with variable electrical and magnetic field. We will specify analysis methods to determine relevant semiconductor parameters such as doping concentrations and carrier mobility from the THz spectral data. We will demonstrate these methods by collecting and analyzing the THz spectra of representative semiconductor samples as a function of temperature, electric field and magnetic field. We will develop the specifications for a Phase II prototype TD-THz test system using fiber optic coupled THz instrumentation and components for automatically acquiring the THz spectral data under the relevant conditions. The fiber optic THz transmit and receive modules would be integrated into a sample cryostat with variable electric and magnetic field.rade offs in features, size, weight, and cost will be discussed. BENEFIT: Upon successful completion of the Phase II project, the proposed TD-THz spectrometer will provide a turn-key system for the determination of semiconductor electronic and optical properties such as doping concentration and carrier mobility. The instrument will acquire TD-THz spectra from 0.1 to>3THz. The sample under test may be measured at a wide range of cryogenic temperatures, electric fields, and magnetic fields. The instrument will employ software which automates the Phase I algorithms to calculate the electronic and optical parameters of the semiconductor samples. The instrument will be suitable THz spectroscopy of pharmaceuticals, synthesized organic compounds, explosives, and other material.


News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: co.newswire.com

Bienko, entrepreneur, was Olympic gold medalist trainer and founded Institute of Athletic Performance FOWNDERS, the social-impact startup accelerator founded by Millennial Mentor Gerard Adams added Stephen Bienko as its CEO starting January 2017. Bienko--a serial entrepreneur with strong ties to performance athletics--built and backed multiple businesses and trained Olympic athletes. Bienko also held Villanova University’s discus throw record from 1998 to 2005. FOWNDERS graduated its first class of entrepreneurs that included Arize, SanoMind, Slingshot VR, Blastchat, Youii, HypeLite, Leave Normal Behind and Oskie with over $500,000 in seed funding raised. FOWNDERS also added to its leadership team Toby Dattolo, Brian Ragone, Brian Donovan, Mustafa Almuradi and Monica Adams. Gerard Adams, FOWNDERS’ founder and CVO made headlines in 2016 with a TEDx talk at New Jersey Institute of Technology that featured FOWNDERS’ mission. The FOWNDERS’ team also represented thoroughly at Newark, New Jersey’s Fiber ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Ras Baraka that staked Newark’s claim as having the highest speed commercially available internet east of the Mississippi. Adams said: “2016 was foundational with culture building, team building and collaborations with NJIT and Medina’s =Space incubator. Newark’s future looks bright and Stephen Bienko’s addition to the team as CEO signals that we’re ready for growth in 2017.” Bienko is formerly the largest franchisee of the College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving brand with offices in New Jersey, Tennessee, Ohio and Florida. Bienko said of his appointment as CEO that “I’m thrilled to serve such a fantastic team and work alongside one of the most visionary and inspirational Millennials.” Gerard Adams, FOWNDERS’s CVO, was a millionaire before age 24 and cofounded and sold “Voice of Generation Y” publication Elite Daily for $50 million in 2015. His team has the Leaders Create Leaders YouTube series and a major network-television show on entrepreneurship in the works. FOWNDERS is the Newark, New Jersey-based social-impact start up accelerator that advances entrepreneurship, technology and innovation in urban communities. It facilitates economic development through Business Acceleration--a 12-week immersive curriculum--and personal development and civic improvement initiatives. Pioneering a new type of social enterprise FOWNDERS provides lasting impact on our world by allowing others to align passion with purpose and take action on making their dreams a reality.


A Clos-network packet switching system may include input modules coupled to a virtual output queue, central modules coupled to the input modules, and output modules coupled to the central modules, each output module having a plurality of cross-point buffers for storing a packet and one or more output ports for outputting the packet.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

A little-understood biological property that appears to allow cell components to store energy on their outer edges is the possible key to developing a new class of materials and devices to collect, store and manage energy for a variety of applications, a team of researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Yeshiva University has proposed. In a paper published this week in Nature Communications, “Dynamical Majorana edge modes in a broad class of topological mechanical systems,” the researchers report the discovery of a large class of materials with such capabilities. “Remarkably, we believe these properties may be present in many materials composed of dimers, a chemical structure in which two similar masses are linked to one another through a rigid, nearly unstretchable bond. Dimers make up the building blocks of many cellular components and so it appears that storing energy in this way is a strategy that a variety of cells use on a daily basis in many living organisms,” notes Camelia Prodan, associate professor of physics at NJIT and an author of the paper. “This research could be used to explain cell behavior that is not yet fully understood,” she adds. The paper stems from research funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation awarded last year to Prodan and her collaborator, Emil Prodan, professor of physics at Yeshiva University, to research the role of topological phonon edges in the functioning of microtubules — the skeletal material in eukaryotic cells. Phonon edges are quanta of sound or vibrational energy confined to the edge or surface of a material. The Prodans are particularly interested in how microtubules store energy at their edge that is not propagated in their cylinder-shaped bodies. Majorana edge modes are the equivalent of a type of subatomic particle – Majorana fermions – that appear in some types of superconductors. They are the energetic vibrations that appear at the edge of a material that cannot be destroyed by the environment or by the material breaking. They are exploring the potential to engineer new materials with novel physical properties based on topological phonon edge modes. “Ultimately, we would like to create materials that mimic this property – the ability to restrict energy to an edge – to enhance earthquake resistance in buildings or the protection of bullet proof vests, for example,” she says. “We also think this property may be the key to a new generation of anti-cancer agents, because of the role topological phonons may play in cell division. Microtubules must fall apart before a cell can divide. Chemotherapy currently works by preventing cells from dividing, but recurrent cancers find a way to weaken these defenses.” Working with nanotechnology experts at NJIT, Reginald Farrow, research professor of physics, and Alokik Kanwal, assistant research professor, they hope to provide the first experimental verification of the key role that these topological phonons play in many fundamental cellular processes, including cell division and movement. In addition, based on the results of their study of microtubules and topological phonon edge modes, the research team will seek to predict and fabricate a new class of materials called topological phononic crystals, with applications ranging from energy-efficient solar cells, to sound deadening and amplification, to insulation.

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