Tag Archives: Michigan State University

MSU Engineering researchers turn a flag into a loudspeaker

EAST LANSING — A paper-thin, flexible device created at the Michigan State University College of Engineering not only can generate energy from human motion, it can act as a loudspeaker and microphone as well, nanotechnology researchers reported May 16 in the scholarly journal Nature Communications (https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15310).

The audio breakthrough could eventually lead to such consumer products as a foldable loudspeaker, a voice-activated security patch for computers, and even a talking newspaper.

“Every technology starts with a breakthrough and this is a breakthrough for this particular technology,” said Nelson Sepúlveda, MSU associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and primary investigator of the federally funded project. “This is the first transducer that is ultrathin, flexible, scalable and bidirectional, meaning it can convert mechanical energy to electrical energy and electrical energy to mechanical energy.”

A video explaining the technology may be viewed at https://youtu.be/mXtjKVb__ME.

In late 2016, Sepúlveda and his team successfully demonstrated their sheet-like device – known as a ferroelectret nanogenerator, or FENG – by using it to power a keyboard, LED lights and an LCD touch-screen. That process worked with a finger swipe or a light pressing motion to activate the devices – converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.

Nelson Sepulveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering pose with his FENG techonology on Wednesday April 5, 2017.

The current breakthrough extends the FENG’s usability. The researchers discovered the high-tech material can act as a microphone (by capturing the vibrations from sound, or mechanical energy, and converting it to electrical energy) as well as a loudspeaker (by operating the opposite way, converting electrical energy to mechanical energy).

To demonstrate the microphone effect, the researchers developed a FENG security patch that uses voice recognition to access a computer. The patch was successful in protecting an individual’s computer from outside users. “The device is so sensitive to the vibrations that it catches the frequency components of your voice,” Sepúlveda said.

To demonstrate the loudspeaker effect, the FENG fabric was embedded into an MSU Spartan flag. Music was piped from an iPad through an amplifier and into the flag, which then reproduced the sound flawlessly.

“The flag itself became the loudspeaker,” Sepúlveda said. “So we could use it in the future by taking traditional speakers, which are big, bulky and use a lot of power, and replacing them with this very flexible, thin, small device.”

Imagine a day when someone could pull a lightweight loudspeaker out of their pocket, slap it against the wall and transmit their speech to a roomful of people, Sepúlveda said.

“Or imagine a newspaper where the sheets are microphones and loudspeakers,” he said. “You could essentially have a voice-activated newspaper that talks back to you.”

Wei Li, an MSU engineering researcher and lead author of the paper in Nature Communications, said other potential applications of the FENG include noise-cancelling sheeting and a health-monitoring wristband that is voice-protected.

“Many people are focusing on the sight and touch aspects of flexible electronics,” Li said, “but we’re also focusing on the speaking and listening aspects of the technology.”

The process of creating the FENG starts with a silicone wafer, which is then fabricated with several thin layers of silver, polyimide and polypropylene ferroelectret. Ions are added so that each layer in the device contains charged particles. Electrical energy is created when the device is compressed by human motion, or mechanical energy.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation. Other co-authors are David Torres, Ramon Diaz and Chuan Wang from MSU, and Zhengjun Wang, Changsheng Wu and Zhong Lin Wang from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

A research breakthrough by Nelson Sepúlveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, could eventually lead to consumer products such as a foldable loudspeaker, a voice-activated security patch for computers, and talking newspaper.

(Story and photo courtesy MSU Today.)

Feds Give U-M $20M For Great Lakes Research Institute

ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan has been awarded a five-year, $20 million grant from the federal government to form a research institute focused on sustainable management of the Great Lakes.

The Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, which will be hosted by UM and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, represents a partnership between nine universities across the Great Lakes region, as well as multiple nonprofits and businesses.

Continue reading Feds Give U-M $20M For Great Lakes Research Institute

MSU Names New Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Chair

EAST LANSING — Donald Morelli, who has been interim chair of the Michigan State University Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science for almost two years, has been named chair of the department following a national search. His appointment is effective June 1.

Continue reading MSU Names New Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Chair

Michigan Sea Grant, Wayne State Host Freshwater Research Conference

ANN ARBOR — Freshwater researchers from the Great Lakes region and around the world are gathering at Cobo Center this week for the 60th annual conference of the International Association for Great Lakes Research.

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Renaissance Venture Fund Opens Office In East Lansing

EAST LANSING – The Renaissance Venture Capital Fund  and the Michigan State University Foundation announced that Renaissance is opening its third office location at the  East Lansing Technology Innovation Center, 325 E. Grand River Ave., Suite 300.

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MSU, NYU researchers find partial fingerprint may trick smartphones

EAST LANSING — No two people are believed to have identical fingerprints, but researchers from New York University and Michigan State University have found that partial similarities between prints are common enough that the fingerprint-based security systems used in mobile phones and other devices can be more vulnerable than previously thought.

The vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based authentication systems feature small sensors that do not capture a user’s full fingerprint. Instead, they scan and store partial fingerprints, and many phones allow users to enroll several different fingers in their authentication system. Identity is confirmed when a user’s fingerprint matches any of the saved partial prints. The researchers hypothesized that there could be enough similarities among different people’s partial prints that one could create a “MasterPrint.”

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MSU Engineering Students Working On New Solar Project, To Save University $10M

EAST LANSING — Construction on a new solar array project – a venture that could save the university $10 million over 25 years – has started at Michigan State University. Continue reading MSU Engineering Students Working On New Solar Project, To Save University $10M

A Stretchable Smart Screen? MSU Says Yes

EAST LANSING — Engineering researchers at Michigan State University have developed the first stretchable integrated circuit that is made entirely using an inkjet printer, raising the possibility of inexpensive mass production of smart fabric.

Imagine: an ultrathin smart tablet that can be stretched from mini-size to extra large. Or a rubber band-like wrist monitor that measures one’s heartbeat. Or wallpaper that turns an entire wall into an electronic display.

Continue reading A Stretchable Smart Screen? MSU Says Yes

Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Grandville, Rochester teams win VEX Robotics at MSU

EAST LANSING — Detroit Catholic Central High School’s VEX Shambots B team won the coveted VEX Robotics Excellence Award and a three-team alliance from Bloomfield Hills, Grandville, and Rochester were high school tournament champions at the 2017 Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship on Sunday, Feb. 19, at Michigan State University.

At the middle school level, Hudsonville Robotics took home the VEX Excellence Award and a three-team alliance that included two teams from Flint’s Carman Ainsworth Middle School Robotics and the Technology First team from Lambertville were tournament champions.

There were 76 teams, including 48 high school and 28 middle school teams, competing at the 2017 state games, all working for the right to represent Michigan in the 2017 VEX Robotics World Games in Louisville, Ky., April 19-25.

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MSU Engineering celebrates science and engineering during EWeek 2017, Feb. 18-25

EAST LANSING — In honor of National Engineers Week in February, the Michigan State University College of Engineering is planning activities and events to emphasize the importance of the contributions made through engineering, science and technical skills. EWeek at MSU runs from Feb. 18-25.

Continue reading MSU Engineering celebrates science and engineering during EWeek 2017, Feb. 18-25