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Selected Research from MSE Faculty, Fellows, and Affiliates

Systemic oxygen delivery by peritoneal perfusion of oxygen microbubbles

Professor Mark Borden, a Fellow of the MSE program, and his collaborator Ben Terry (CU-Boulder, class of 2011), now an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska, have invented a novel way to oxygenate hypoxemic patients who cannot breath.  Their method is to pump oxygen microbubbles into the peritoneal cavity to deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide.  “The system is analogous to an umbilical cord: it delivers to the abdomen life-sustaining oxygen, where it can be transported by the patient’s circulatory system to the brain and other vital organs.  The microbubbles also absorb and remove unwanted carbon dioxide from the patient.  Our preliminary studies show that the technology provides oxygen and allows time for the lung injury to heal.  This is a major advance over our prior method of introducing oxygen microbubbles directly into the bloodstream.  It is much safer and simpler to implement, giving it a more straightforward pathway for clinical translation.”  The oxygen microbubbles were designed by Borden to have the properties of the lung alveoli, with a nanoscale lipid layer that provides mechanical stability to support a large, permeable surface for enhanced gas exchange.  In their landmark study, now published in Biomaterials, they showed safety and efficacy of the approach in a preclinical trial for severe lung injury.  “We are currently doing preclinical trials to test safety and efficacy for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome,” says Borden.  “Our next step will be to translate this technology to the clinic.”


Theory of Real Materials: Alex Zunger

Key words: Semiconductors; Transitional-metal compounds; Oxides; Density functional theory; Nanostructures.

Society’s goals to deliver a material that is 50% more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity, or a flat-panel display with a ten-fold increase in the conductivity of the transparent window rely on our ability to both invent and synthesize the next generation of specialized functional materials. But specialized, technology- enabling functionalities ‘live’ in specific materials and no others. We are engaged in research in the field of theoretical condensed matter physics of rea materials, using fundamental, first-principles quantum mechanics. Our goal is to understand and predict properties of matter –-optical, magnetic, topological and mechanical– as they emerge from the defining attributes of materials, being Atomic identities, Composition and Structure (ACS). The systems of interest include semiconductors, insulators, metals, nanostructures, surfaces, quasi-2D materials, alloys, and superlattices. Our main research tools involve atomistic electronic structure calculations such as Density Functional Theory. In the “conventional approach” we use ACS as input and predict as output properties of the said compound defined by this ACS. In our recently developed “materials by inverse approach (see figure) we use as input the target property we would like to discover, and predict as output the type of compound (ACS) that would have this property. The predictive power of our atomistic first principles approaches and their close reliance on realistic attributes of matter forms a strong basis for close collaboration with various experimental groups that test our predictions. More:

Inverse Design diagram