University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Laura L. Hunt

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Feb 15, 2011 
UWM announces latest Catalyst research grants

The Research Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has announced four new Catalyst Grants in advanced automation sponsored by the Rockwell Automation Charitable Corporation.

Caroline Aita
Caroline Aita
Ryo Amano
Ryo Amano
Tien-Chien Jen
Tien-Chien Jen
Ramin Pashaie
Ramin Pashaie

This is the fourth round of grants made possible by Rockwell. Including two additional awards made to UWM faculty through the Wisconsin Energy Research Consortium (WERC), Rockwell has provided $800,000 in seed funding for promising research at UWM.

The funding has led to several important results for faculty funded between 2007 and 2010, including one startup company, four provisional patents and four research partners. Some details:

  • After developing a miniaturized gas/vapor sensor using the hybrid nanocarbon tubes he developed in the lab, Associate Professor Junhong Chen founded a startup company, NanoAffix Science LLC, last year. He also received a federal SBIR grant to further develop the company.
  • Wisconsin and UWM Distinguished Professor Pradeep Rohatgi’s work on self-healing solder has been included in the new federally funded Center for Advanced Manufacturing Materials.
  • Assistant professor Jason He’s work on microbial desalination cells earned him an industry research partner who joined the Milwaukee Water Council because of the association. 

The grants support research in three areas important to advanced automation: software and informatics; sensors and devices; and materials. This group of funded projects represents applications in the energy, water, manufacturing and computing fields.

New research projects include:

  • Carolyn Aita, Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of chemistry/biochemistry
    Nano-laminate Coatings Development of new processes and coatings that can be easily scaled up for manufacturing; these coatings address environmental problems with chromate coatings typically used in galvanized steel and may be extended to high-end coatings for biomedical applications.
  • Ryo Amano, professor of mechanical engineering
    Aeration System for Water Treatment. This project has the potential to substantially reduce the amount of energy used in municipal wastewater treatment plants to aerate water.
  • Results of Rockwell Catalyst Grants 2007-2010

    • $800,000 contributed
    • 13 UWM faculty involved
    • 1 startup company
    • 4 provisional patents
    • 4 research partners
    • 2 prototype devices
  • Tien-Chien Jen, professor of mechanical engineering
    Laser-Assisted Manufacturing for Energy Components. In this project, Jen will use lasers to improve the penetration depth of a coating process called cold gas dynamic spraying. The process may prove to be an important advance in materials for fuel cells.
  • Ramin Pashaie, assistant professor of electrical engineering & computer science
    Optical Computing. Based on use of a photo-refractive crystal, Pashaie’s project will help develop a new parallel nonlinear processor, technology that could help enable the next generation of computational devices.