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Electrospinning of bioactive dex-PAA hydrogel fibers

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In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the

In this work, a novel method is developed for making nano- and micro- fibrous hydrogels capable of preventing the rejection of implanted materials. This is achieved by either (1) mimicking the native cellular environment, to exert fine control over the cellular response or (2) acting as a protective barrier, to camouflage the foreign nature of a material and evade recognition by the immune system. Comprehensive characterization and in vitro studies described here provide a foundation for developing substrates for use in clinical applications. Hydrogel dextran and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) fibers are formed via electrospinning, in sizes ranging from nanometers to microns in diameter. While "as-electrospun" fibers are continuous in length, sonication is used to fragment fibers into short fiber "bristles" and generate nano- and micro- fibrous surface coatings over a wide range of topographies. Dex-PAA fibrous surfaces are chemically modified, and then optimized and characterized for non-fouling and ECM-mimetic properties. The non-fouling nature of fibers is verified, and cell culture studies show differential responses dependent upon chemical, topographical and mechanical properties. Dex-PAA fibers are advantageously unique in that (1) a fine degree of control is possible over three significant parameters critical for modifying cellular response: topography, chemistry and mechanical properties, over a range emulating that of native cellular environments, (2) the innate nature of the material is non-fouling, providing an inert background for adding back specific bioactive functionality, and (3) the fibers can be applied as a surface coating or comprise the scaffold itself. This is the first reported work of dex-PAA hydrogel fibers formed via electrospinning and thermal cross-linking, and unique to this method, no toxic solvents or cross-linking agents are needed to create hydrogels or for surface attachment. This is also the first reported work of using sonication to fragment electrospun hydrogel fibers, and in which surface coatings were made via simple electrostatic interaction and dehydration. These versatile features enable fibrous surface coatings to be applied to virtually any material. Results of this research broadly impact the design of biomaterials which contact cells in the body by directing the consequent cell-material interaction.

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2011

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Synthesis and characterization of ordered mesoporous silica with controlled macroscopic morphology for membrane applications

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Ordered mesoporous materials have tunable pore sizes between 2 and 50 nm and are characterized by ordered pore structures and high surface areas (~1000 m2/g). This makes them particularly favorable for a number of membrane applications such as protein separation,

Ordered mesoporous materials have tunable pore sizes between 2 and 50 nm and are characterized by ordered pore structures and high surface areas (~1000 m2/g). This makes them particularly favorable for a number of membrane applications such as protein separation, polymer extrusion, nanowire fabrication and membrane reactors. These membranes can be fabricated as top-layers on macroporous supports or as embedded membranes in a dense matrix. The first part of the work deals with the hydrothermal synthesis and water-vapor/oxygen separation properties of supported MCM-48 and a new Al-MCM-48 type membrane for potential use in air conditioning systems. Knudsen-type permeation is observed in these membranes. The combined effect of capillary condensation and the aluminosilicate matrix resulted in the highest separation factor (142) in Al-MCM-48 membranes, with a water vapor permeance of 6×10-8mol/m2Pas. The second part focuses on synthesis of embedded mesoporous silica membranes with helically ordered pores by a novel Counter Diffusion Self-Assembly (CDSA) method. This method is an extension of the interfacial synthesis method for fiber synthesis using tetrabutylorthosilicate (TBOS) and cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) as the silica source and surfactant respectively. The initial part of this study determined the effect of TBOS height and humidity on fiber formation. From this study, the range of TBOS heights for best microscopic and macroscopic ordering were established. Next, the CDSA method was used to successfully synthesize membranes, which were characterized to have good support plugging and an ordered pore structure. Factors that influence membrane synthesis and plug microstructure were determined. SEM studies revealed the presence of gaps between the plugs and support pores, which occur due to shrinking of the plug on drying. Development of a novel liquid deposition method to seal these defects constituted the last part of this work. Post sealing, excess silica was removed by etching with hydrofluoric acid. Membrane quality was evaluated at each step using SEM and gas permeation measurements. After surfactant removal by liquid extraction, the membranes exhibited an O2 permeance of 1.65x10-6mol/m2.Pa.s and He/O2 selectivity of 3.30. The successful synthesis of this membrane is an exciting new development in the area of ordered mesoporous membrane technology.

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2011

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Incorporating auditory models in speech/audio applications

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Following the success in incorporating perceptual models in audio coding algorithms, their application in other speech/audio processing systems is expanding. In general, all perceptual speech/audio processing algorithms involve minimization of an objective function that directly/indirectly incorporates properties of human perception.

Following the success in incorporating perceptual models in audio coding algorithms, their application in other speech/audio processing systems is expanding. In general, all perceptual speech/audio processing algorithms involve minimization of an objective function that directly/indirectly incorporates properties of human perception. This dissertation primarily investigates the problems associated with directly embedding an auditory model in the objective function formulation and proposes possible solutions to overcome high complexity issues for use in real-time speech/audio algorithms. Specific problems addressed in this dissertation include: 1) the development of approximate but computationally efficient auditory model implementations that are consistent with the principles of psychoacoustics, 2) the development of a mapping scheme that allows synthesizing a time/frequency domain representation from its equivalent auditory model output. The first problem is aimed at addressing the high computational complexity involved in solving perceptual objective functions that require repeated application of auditory model for evaluation of different candidate solutions. In this dissertation, a frequency pruning and a detector pruning algorithm is developed that efficiently implements the various auditory model stages. The performance of the pruned model is compared to that of the original auditory model for different types of test signals in the SQAM database. Experimental results indicate only a 4-7% relative error in loudness while attaining up to 80-90 % reduction in computational complexity. Similarly, a hybrid algorithm is developed specifically for use with sinusoidal signals and employs the proposed auditory pattern combining technique together with a look-up table to store representative auditory patterns. The second problem obtains an estimate of the auditory representation that minimizes a perceptual objective function and transforms the auditory pattern back to its equivalent time/frequency representation. This avoids the repeated application of auditory model stages to test different candidate time/frequency vectors in minimizing perceptual objective functions. In this dissertation, a constrained mapping scheme is developed by linearizing certain auditory model stages that ensures obtaining a time/frequency mapping corresponding to the estimated auditory representation. This paradigm was successfully incorporated in a perceptual speech enhancement algorithm and a sinusoidal component selection task.

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2011

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Growth of gaN nanowires: a study using in situ transmission electron microscopy

Description

Owing to their special characteristics, group III-Nitride semiconductors have attracted special attention for their application in a wide range of optoelectronic devices. Of particular interest are their direct and wide band gaps that span from ultraviolet to the infrared wavelengths.

Owing to their special characteristics, group III-Nitride semiconductors have attracted special attention for their application in a wide range of optoelectronic devices. Of particular interest are their direct and wide band gaps that span from ultraviolet to the infrared wavelengths. In addition, their stronger bonds relative to the other compound semiconductors makes them thermally more stable, which provides devices with longer life time. However, the lattice mismatch between these semiconductors and their substrates cause the as-grown films to have high dislocation densities, reducing the life time of devices that contain these materials. One possible solution for this problem is to substitute single crystal semiconductor nanowires for epitaxial films. Due to their dimensionality, semiconductor nanowires typically have stress-free surfaces and better physical properties. In order to employ semiconductor nanowires as building blocks for nanoscale devices, a precise control of the nanowires' crystallinity, morphology, and chemistry is necessary. This control can be achieved by first developing a deeper understanding of the processes involved in the synthesis of nanowires, and then by determining the effects of temperature and pressure on their growth. This dissertation focuses on understanding of the growth processes involved in the formation of GaN nanowires. Nucleation and growth events were observed in situ and controlled in real-time using an environmental transmission electron microscope. These observations provide a satisfactory elucidation of the underlying growth mechanism during the formation of GaN nanowires. Nucleation of these nanowires appears to follow the vapor-liquid-solid mechanism. However, nanowire growth is found to follow both the vapor-liquid-solid and vapor-solid-solid mechanisms. Direct evidence of the effects of III/V ratio on nanowire growth is also reported, which provides important information for tailoring the synthesis of GaN nanowires. These findings suggest in situ electron microscopy is a powerful tool to understand the growth of GaN nanowires and also that these experimental approach can be extended to study other binary semiconductor compound such as GaP, GaAs, and InP, or even ternary compounds such as InGaN. However, further experimental work is required to fully elucidate the kinetic effects on the growth process. A better control of the growth parameters is also recommended.

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2010

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Best value implementation program for contractors

Description

The price based marketplace has dominated the construction industry. The majority of owners use price based practices of management (expectation and decision making, control, direction, and inspection.) The price based/management and control paradigm has not worked. Clients

The price based marketplace has dominated the construction industry. The majority of owners use price based practices of management (expectation and decision making, control, direction, and inspection.) The price based/management and control paradigm has not worked. Clients have now been moving toward the best value environment (hire contractors who know what they are doing, who preplan, and manage and minimize risk and deviation.) Owners are trying to move from client direction and control to hiring an expert and allowing them to do the quality control/risk management. The movement of environments changes the paradigm for the contractors from a reactive to a proactive, from a bureaucratic
on-accountable to an accountable position, from a relationship based
on-measuring to a measuring entity, and to a contractor who manages and minimizes the risk that they do not control. Years of price based practices have caused poor quality and low performance in the construction industry. This research identifies what is a best value contractor or vendor, what factors make up a best value vendor, and the methodology to transform a vendor to a best value vendor. It will use deductive logic, a case study to confirm the logic and the proposed methodology.

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2011

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Optimization of ionic conductivity in doped ceria using density functional theory and kinetic lattice Monte Carlo

Description

Fuel cells, particularly solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), are important for the future of greener and more efficient energy sources. Although SOFCs have been in existence for over fifty years, they have not been deployed extensively because they need to

Fuel cells, particularly solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), are important for the future of greener and more efficient energy sources. Although SOFCs have been in existence for over fifty years, they have not been deployed extensively because they need to be operated at a high temperature (∼1000 °C), are expensive, and have slow response to changes in energy demands. One important need for commercialization of SOFCs is a lowering of their operating temperature, which requires an electrolyte that can operate at lower temperatures. Doped ceria is one such candidate. For this dissertation work I have studied different types of doped ceria to understand the mechanism of oxygen vacancy diffusion through the bulk. Doped ceria is important because they have high ionic conductivities thus making them attractive candidates for the electrolytes of solid oxide fuel cells. In particular, I have studied how the ionic conductivities are improved in these doped materials by studying the oxygen-vacancy formations and migrations. In this dissertation I describe the application of density functional theory (DFT) and Kinetic Lattice Monte Carlo (KLMC) simulations to calculate the vacancy diffusion and ionic conductivities in doped ceria. The dopants used are praseodymium (Pr), gadolinium (Gd), and neodymium (Nd), all belonging to the lanthanide series. The activation energies for vacancy migration between different nearest neighbor (relative to the dopant) positions were calculated using the commercial DFT code VASP (Vienna Ab-initio Simulation Package). These activation energies were then used as inputs to the KLMC code that I co-developed. The KLMC code was run for different temperatures (673 K to 1073 K) and for different dopant concentrations (0 to 40%). These simulations have resulted in the prediction of dopant concentrations for maximum ionic conductivity at a given temperature.

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2011

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Growth, characterization, and thermodynamics of III-nitride semiconductors

Description

III-nitride alloys are wide band gap semiconductors with a broad range of applications in optoelectronic devices such as light emitting diodes and laser diodes. Indium gallium nitride light emitting diodes have been successfully produced over the past decade. But the

III-nitride alloys are wide band gap semiconductors with a broad range of applications in optoelectronic devices such as light emitting diodes and laser diodes. Indium gallium nitride light emitting diodes have been successfully produced over the past decade. But the progress of green emission light emitting devices has been limited by the incorporation of indium in the alloy, mainly due to phase separation. This difficulty could be addressed by studying the growth and thermodynamics of these alloys. Knowledge of thermodynamic phase stabilities and of pressure - temperature - composition phase diagrams is important for an understanding of the boundary conditions of a variety of growth techniques. In this dissertation a study of the phase separation of indium gallium nitride is conducted using a regular solution model of the ternary alloy system. Graphs of Gibbs free energy of mixing were produced for a range of temperatures. Binodal and spinodal decomposition curves show the stable and unstable regions of the alloy in equilibrium. The growth of gallium nitride and indium gallium nitride was attempted by the reaction of molten gallium - indium alloy with ammonia at atmospheric pressure. Characterization by X-ray diffraction, photoluminescence, and secondary electron microscopy show that the samples produced by this method contain only gallium nitride in the hexagonal phase. The instability of indium nitride at the temperatures required for activation of ammonia accounts for these results. The photoluminescence spectra show a correlation between the intensity of a broad green emission, related to native defects, and indium composition used in the molten alloy. A different growth method was used to grow two columnar-structured gallium nitride films using ammonium chloride and gallium as reactants and nitrogen and ammonia as carrier gasses. Investigation by X-ray diffraction and spatially-resolved cathodoluminescence shows the film grown at higher temperature to be primarily hexagonal with small quantities of cubic crystallites, while the one grown at lower temperature to be pure hexagonal. This was also confirmed by low temperature photoluminescence measurements. The results presented here show that cubic and hexagonal crystallites can coexist, with the cubic phase having a much sharper and stronger luminescence. Controlled growth of the cubic phase GaN crystallites can be of use for high efficiency light detecting and emitting devices. The ammonolysis of a precursor was used to grow InGaN powders with different indium composition. High purity hexagonal GaN and InN were obtained. XRD spectra showed complete phase separation for samples with x < 30%, with ~ 9% indium incorporation in the 30% sample. The presence of InGaN in this sample was confirmed by PL measurements, where luminescence from both GaN and InGaN band edge are observed. The growth of higher indium compositions samples proved to be difficult, with only the presence of InN in the sample. Nonetheless, by controlling parameters like temperature and time may lead to successful growth of this III-nitride alloy by this method.

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2011

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Smooth surfaces for video game development

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The video game graphics pipeline has traditionally rendered the scene using a polygonal approach. Advances in modern graphics hardware now allow the rendering of parametric methods. This thesis explores various smooth surface rendering methods that can be integrated into the

The video game graphics pipeline has traditionally rendered the scene using a polygonal approach. Advances in modern graphics hardware now allow the rendering of parametric methods. This thesis explores various smooth surface rendering methods that can be integrated into the video game graphics engine. Moving over to parametric or smooth surfaces from the polygonal domain has its share of issues and there is an inherent need to address various rendering bottlenecks that could hamper such a move. The game engine needs to choose an appropriate method based on in-game characteristics of the objects; character and animated objects need more sophisticated methods whereas static objects could use simpler techniques. Scaling the polygon count over various hardware platforms becomes an important factor. Much control is needed over the tessellation levels, either imposed by the hardware limitations or by the application, to be able to adaptively render the mesh without significant loss in performance. This thesis explores several methods that would help game engine developers in making correct design choices by optimally balancing the trade-offs while rendering the scene using smooth surfaces. It proposes a novel technique for adaptive tessellation of triangular meshes that vastly improves speed and tessellation count. It develops an approximate method for rendering Loop subdivision surfaces on tessellation enabled hardware. A taxonomy and evaluation of the methods is provided and a unified rendering system that provides automatic level of detail by switching between the methods is proposed.

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2011

Surface stress during electro-oxidation of carbon monoxide and bulk stress evolution during electrochemical intercalation of lithium

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This work investigates in-situ stress evolution of interfacial and bulk processes in electrochemical systems, and is divided into two projects. The first project examines the electrocapillarity of clean and CO-covered electrodes. It also investigates surface stress evolution during electro-oxidation of

This work investigates in-situ stress evolution of interfacial and bulk processes in electrochemical systems, and is divided into two projects. The first project examines the electrocapillarity of clean and CO-covered electrodes. It also investigates surface stress evolution during electro-oxidation of CO at Pt{111}, Ru/Pt{111} and Ru{0001} electrodes. The second project explores the evolution of bulk stress that occurs during intercalation (extraction) of lithium (Li) and formation of a solid electrolyte interphase during electrochemical reduction (oxidation) of Li at graphitic electrodes. Electrocapillarity measurements have shown that hydrogen and hydroxide adsorption are compressive on Pt{111}, Ru/Pt{111}, and Ru{0001}. The adsorption-induced surface stresses correlate strongly with adsorption charge. Electrocatalytic oxidation of CO on Pt{111} and Ru/Pt{111} gives a tensile surface stress. A numerical method was developed to separate both current and stress into background and active components. Applying this model to the CO oxidation signal on Ru{0001} gives a tensile surface stress and elucidates the rate limiting steps on all three electrodes. The enhanced catalysis of Ru/Pt{111} is confirmed to be bi-functional in nature: Ru provides adsorbed hydroxide to Pt allowing for rapid CO oxidation. The majority of Li-ion batteries have anodes consisting of graphite particles with polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) as binder. Intercalation of Li into graphite occurs in stages and produces anisotropic strains. As batteries have a fixed size and shape these strains are converted into mechanical stresses. Conventionally staging phenomena has been observed with X-ray diffraction and collaborated electrochemically with the potential. Work herein shows that staging is also clearly observed in stress. The Li staging potentials as measured by differential chronopotentiometry and stress are nearly identical. Relative peak heights of Li staging, as measured by these two techniques, are similar during reduction, but differ during oxidation due to non-linear stress relaxation phenomena. This stress relaxation appears to be due to homogenization of Li within graphite particles rather than viscous flow of the binder. The first Li reduction wave occurs simultaneously with formation of a passivating layer known as the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). Preliminary experiments have shown the stress of SEI formation to be tensile (~+1.5 MPa).

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2011

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A control engineering approach for designing an optimized treatment plan for fibromyalgia

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There is increasing interest in the medical and behavioral health communities towards developing effective strategies for the treatment of chronic diseases. Among these lie adaptive interventions, which consider adjusting treatment dosages over time based on participant response. Control engineering offers

There is increasing interest in the medical and behavioral health communities towards developing effective strategies for the treatment of chronic diseases. Among these lie adaptive interventions, which consider adjusting treatment dosages over time based on participant response. Control engineering offers a broad-based solution framework for optimizing the effectiveness of such interventions. In this thesis, an approach is proposed to develop dynamical models and subsequently, hybrid model predictive control schemes for assigning optimal dosages of naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, as treatment for a chronic pain condition known as fibromyalgia. System identification techniques are employed to model the dynamics from the daily diary reports completed by participants of a blind naltrexone intervention trial. These self-reports include assessments of outcomes of interest (e.g., general pain symptoms, sleep quality) and additional external variables (disturbances) that affect these outcomes (e.g., stress, anxiety, and mood). Using prediction-error methods, a multi-input model describing the effect of drug, placebo and other disturbances on outcomes of interest is developed. This discrete time model is approximated by a continuous second order model with zero, which was found to be adequate to capture the dynamics of this intervention. Data from 40 participants in two clinical trials were analyzed and participants were classified as responders and non-responders based on the models obtained from system identification. The dynamical models can be used by a model predictive controller for automated dosage selection of naltrexone using feedback/feedforward control actions in the presence of external disturbances. The clinical requirement for categorical (i.e., discrete-valued) drug dosage levels creates a need for hybrid model predictive control (HMPC). The controller features a multiple degree-of-freedom formulation that enables the user to adjust the speed of setpoint tracking, measured disturbance rejection and unmeasured disturbance rejection independently in the closed loop system. The nominal and robust performance of the proposed control scheme is examined via simulation using system identification models from a representative participant in the naltrexone intervention trial. The controller evaluation described in this thesis gives credibility to the promise and applicability of control engineering principles for optimizing adaptive interventions.

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2011