Wei Lai, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, works in his lab

The potential for developing new useful materials is virtually unbounded, both from a nanoscale perspective and from a biomaterials perspective. Nanomaterials research impacts on our nanomedicine efforts, on infrastructure security research, and on alternative energy efforts, inter alia. We also have growing strength in surface coating technology, which impacts on both health and manufacturing problems.

In the News

The day of charging cellphones with finger swipes and powering Bluetooth headsets simply by walking is now much closer.

Human-powered wearables

Flexible device captures energy from human motion

The day of charging cellphones with finger swipes and powering Bluetooth headsets simply by walking is now much closer. 

Michigan State University engineering researchers have created a new way to harvest energy from human motion, using a film-like device that actually can be folded to create more power.

With the low-cost device, known as a nanogenerator, the scientists successfully operated an LCD touch screen, a bank of 20 LED lights and a flexible keyboard, all with a simple touching or pressing motion and without the aid of a battery (click the respective links to see a short video of each demonstration). 

The groundbreaking findings, published in the journal Nano Energy, suggest “we’re on the path toward wearable devices powered by human motion,” said Nelson Sepulveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and lead investigator of the project. 

“What I foresee, relatively soon, is the capability of not having to charge your cell phone for an entire week, for example, because that energy will be produced by your movement,” said Sepulveda, whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Click the following link to read the full article:

National acclaim for Drzal

University Distinguished Professor Lawrence Drzal honored with two national awards

The year of 2016 is one of recognition for University Distinguished Professor Lawrence T. Drzal of the Michigan State University College of Engineering.

Drzal, a University Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and the director of the MSU Composite Materials and Structures Center, will receive two of his field’s most prestigious honors this year: 

  • the Medal of Excellence in Composite Materials from the University of Delaware and
  • the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE®).

Drzal called the honors an unexpected surprise. 

“I was first introduced to composite materials by Dr. Steven Tsai, one of the pioneers in the field, right after grad school when I was at the U.S. Air Force Materials Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio,” he said. “Steve was, and still is, a pioneer and an inspiration. It is a real honor to receive the award.” 

University Distinguished Professor Lawrence T. Drzal will receive national acclaim in 2016 when two of his field's most prestigious honors will be presented to him.

Drzal noted that after accepting a position at MSU, he was able to build a foundation in aerospace composite materials. 

“I have worked with dozens of talented grad students and postdocs to expand my research,” Drzal continued, “and to expand my research to composite materials for vehicles, plant fiber-based composites, and graphene nanoplatelet composites.” 

Drzal considers himself fortunate to have collaborated with colleagues from the College of Engineering and to receive continuing support from college and university administrators. That resulted in the establishment of the Composite Materials and Structures Center at MSU, he explained. 

Click the following link to read the full article:

2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Eight Spartan Engineering alumni honored for their significant accomplishments Martin Hawley (BS '61, PhD '64) has taught at MSU for 40 years to about 90 percent of the living MSU undergraduate CHEMS students.

The Annual Michigan State University College of Engineering Alumni Awards Banquet honored a third grade teacher from Midland and a group of eight distinguished alumni whose significant accomplishments reflect positively on Michigan State University and the College of Engineering. 

The alumni were recognized at MSU’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on May 7. 

Receiving the 2016 Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award was Martin C. Hawley (BS ’61, PhD ’64, chemical engineering). The award is the highest honor presented to a graduate by the college. It recognizes professional accomplishment, volunteer service, and distinguished service to the college and the engineering profession.

Hawley, of East Lansing, is a professor and recent past chairperson of the MSU Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (CHEMS). He is currently senior associate to the dean of engineering and director of the MSU Composite Vehicle Research Center. During 2010-2012 he was also director of MSU’s Office of Sponsored Pro­grams. Earlier, he was co-director of the MSU Composites Center—a National Science Foundation, State of Michigan, and industry-supported center—for 10 years. 

Click the following link to read the full article:


Wei Lai receives $500,000 NSF CAREER Award for bi-functional battery research

Lithium-ion batteries have dominated the portable electronics market, but their large-scale use in transportation markets could be hindered by the shrinking availability of materials.Wei Lai, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, is the 12th member of the MSU College of Engineering to receive the prestigious NSF CAREER Award since 2010.

Element sodium is 1,000 times more readily available than lithium. A new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Michigan State University will explore if sodium-based batteries could replace the more popular lithium-ion batteries as a sustainable power source. 

Wei Lai, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science in the MSU College of Engineering, has been awarded a five-year $500,000 NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to work on bi-functional battery materials. NSF CAREER awards support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research and education. 

Click the following link to read the full article:

Click here to read more about our faculty in Materials Research. Or click on the Research-Related Faculty block in the upper right corner.