VISION 2000: College of Engineering 1995 Annual ReportCHEMICAL ENGINEERING
VISION 2000: College of Engineering 1995 Annual ReportHR

Professor Charles G. Hill, Jr. continues his research on the use of immobilized enzymes to chemically modify naturally occurring triglycerides (e.g., olive oil, milkfat, vegetable oils). Enzymes are employed to manipulate the chemical compositions of these materials to produce either food ingredients with enhanced functional and/or physiological properties or specialty chemicals for non-food applications. Current emphasis is on the generation of flavoring agents for food industry applications, but the technology also has important implications with respect to human nutrition and health. Hill's graduate students are investigating the possibility of using this technology to create food products designed specifically for individuals with particular dietary constraints associated with health concerns such as cardiovascular or hypertension problems.

Professor Thomas F. Kuech is developing new electronic material and structures using chemical vapor deposition techniques. These techniques allow control of the synthesis of semiconductor materials at the near atomic level. Creation of semiconductor devices requires the formation of thin layers or the modification of the near surface region of semiconductors. With chemical vapor deposition, thin semiconductor layers are grown onto a heated substrate through the reaction of gas-phase species to form materials, such as Si, GaAs and A1xGa1-xAs, which are important in solid-state lasers and high-speed electronics. Through detailed study of the relationship between materials properties and the growth process, Kuech is developing process models that can be used to predict and control the chemical vapor deposition process.

Assistant Professor Regina M. Murphy is applying chemical engineering and physical chemistry principles to study aggregation of beta-amyloid peptide (Aß) in the brain. Aß assembles itself into long fibrils outside of brain cells. Evidence is mounting that deposition of Aß is a causative factor in the onset and/or progression of Alzheimer's disease. For this reason, researchers are developing methods to inhibit Aß aggregation. Analysis of data from dynamic and static light scattering, as well as structural studies using fluorescence spectroscopy and electron microscopy, is shedding light on how the peptide assembles itself. Murphy is building a multi-step kinetic model of Aß in self-assembly for use in designing Aß inhibitors.

Professor Sangtae Kim and graduate student Gary Huber have developed a new algorithm for modeling the reactions of large biological molecules. The algorithm uses less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the computer time that previous models used. In the conventional computational practice, reaction kinetics are deduced from just a few reaction events that occur out of millions of stochastic trajectories. The new method, Weighted Ensemble Brownian (WEB) Dynamics, features a weighted ensemble of trajectories in configuration space, with energy levels dictating the proper correspondence between "particles" and probability.


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Date last modified: Wednesday, 29-Nov-1995 12:00:00 CST
Date created: 29-Nov-1995

1995 Annual Report Contents