Plastics That Cool and Cars That Communicate Like Bees

These and other innovations from IEEE members recently made headlines

12 October 2016

Member Salvatore Campione received the Outstanding Young Professional Award from IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), the organization’s honor society. The award recognizes engineers who are younger than 35 and who have demonstrated significant accomplishments in their careers. He was honored for “contributions to the electromagnetic modeling of complex systems and structures from microwave to optical frequencies.”

Campione is a researcher of nanophotonics and electromagnetic theory at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque.

He is a member of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation and IEEE Photonics societies as well as IEEE Young Professionals.


Life Fellow Federico Capasso received a 2016 Balzan Prize. He was honored for pioneering work in the design of new materials that led to the development of the quantum cascade laser, a semiconductor device that emits in the mid- to far-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The International Balzan Prize Foundation recognizes innovative research in the humanities and the sciences. This year’s prizewinners will receive 750,000 Swiss francs (about US $772,800), half of which must be devoted to research work, preferably involving young scholars and researchers.

Capasso helped invent the quantum cascade laser in 1994 while a researcher at Bell Laboratories. He is now a professor of applied physics at Harvard and a senior research fellow in its electrical engineering department.

He is a member of the IEEE Electron Devices and IEEE Photonics societies.


Fellow Shanhui Fan, an electrical engineering professor at Stanford, is helping develop a low-cost textile made of plastic that leaves the wearer feeling several degrees cooler than cotton would. His research was featured in a New Atlas article.

To make the fabric, the Stanford researchers altered the structure of polyethylene with benign chemicals. Instead of being formable in a solid sheet, it’s made to have a nanoporous structure that allows water-vapor molecules to pass through; it breathes like natural fibers do. According to the article, the new fabric was compared to a swatch of cotton by placing both on a surface designed to mimic the warmth of human skin; the new plastic cloth made the surface 2.7 °C cooler than did the cotton.


Senior Member Alexander Wyglinski and a team of researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in Massachusetts, is working to apply bumblebee communication methods to driverless cars. His research was featured in a Telegram.com article.

Wyglinski and his students are looking at how swarms of bees navigate their environments—they are social, exchange information, and act on that data to achieve their goals. The idea is that connected, self-driving vehicles can be safer if they behave similarly—transmitting their velocity, direction, and intentions, and receiving the same information from other cars.

The researchers are trying to achieve that via cognitive radio, a technology used in cellphones, for example, to decide which channel or radio tower is best to connect to. Cars might be able to use the technology to, say, determine what roadways are already occupied by other vehicles.

Wyglinski, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at WPI, is a member of the IEEE Communications and IEEE Vehicular Technology societies as well as IEEE Women in Engineering.

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