The Anaheim Convention Center was a-buzz Monday afternoon with hundreds of attendees gathering around booths and posters and attending presentations at the 20th Annual TechConnect World conference. The conference featured speakers, industry, government agencies and universities focused on nanotechnologies, improved medical devices and defense technologies. UCI Applied Innovation shared the UC Pavilion at the front of the trade show floor with three other UC schools—UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside and UC Los Angeles’ Technology Department Group.
This is UCI Applied Innovation’s third year at TechConnect.
Monday afternoon during the event’s showcase reception, two of UCI’s featured faculty members discussed their latest research with curious attendees. Mohammad Al Faruque, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Ph.D., discussed his three different technologies, which focus on cyber security.
“My major interest will be to use the data-driven modeling techniques that we have created by using various machine learning algorithms and use those models for tool design and eventually real-time decision making for process quality control within manufacturing systems,” said Faruque.
Faruque presented the following three technologies:
• “Secret Key Generation for Wireless Communication in Cyber-Physical Automotive Systems,” which utilizes the random motion of a vehicle to provide more secure and less energetically costly encryption over standard protocols.
• “Security Key Generation Technique for Inter-Vehicular Visible alight Communication,” which is a novel reliable and secure cryptography solution for inter-vehicular visible light communication.
• “Polarization Mode Dispersion-based Physical Layer Key Generation for Optical Fiber Link Security,” which is a method for encrypting optical communications.
Shane Ardo, professor of chemistry, Ph.D., also discussed his research technology, “Devices for Integrated Solar Photodialysis of Salt Water.” Ardo oversees a team of researchers whose focus is understanding and controlling reaction mechanisms at asymmetric materials interfaces. The function of his technology is to use sunlight to directly move ions, with Ardo’s team considering direct solar desalination as a potential high-impact application.
“In particular, we are developing a solar cell that moves ions instead of electrons,” said Ardo. “No one has developed a material with this function in the form of a plastic ion-exchange membrane.”
Ardo and his team have been studying southern California’s water-intensive avocado groves, specifically focused on the plant’s sensitivity to water salinity. Avocado fruit production requires massive amounts of low-salt water, which collectively costs California avocado growers more than $100 million each year. By decreasing the salinity of a certain brackish water level by a factor of two, the fruiting yield can improve from less than 10 percent to more than 90 percent, as stated on his poster. This means that external sources of water do not have to be generated and transported to the farms, which constitutes a large cost savings.
“The minimum voltage needed to affect this decrease in salt is less than one-fifteenth of the voltage you get from a silicon solar cell,” said Ardo. “Our technology uses light to directly move ions, skipping the traditional step of moving electrons, which you don’t need to desalinate water.”
According to Ardo’s calculations, based on standard physical and chemical principles, he predicts that his technology’s efficiency could far surpass this minimum voltage requirement. In fact, his group has already experimentally demonstrated a material whose performance exceeds this minimum voltage by a factor of three.
The conference concluded the day with a few hours of reception and networking. For information about TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo, click here.