During this decade, Texas A&M at Qatar’s research program has grown to a cumulative funding level of more than $236 million for 289 projects that cover basic and applied research to solve critical problems. This research has yielded extraordinary productivity in terms of refereed papers, conference proceedings and patent applications. Texas A&M at Qatar has 182 active and awarded research projects and more than $147 million in active and awarded project funding.
A summary of the research, our collaboration with industry, and our partnerships with dozens of universities and research centers around the world, are presented in the web pages of the various programs; to give, however, a flavor of our efforts, we outline some of the recent non-confidential funded projects.
For Dr. Milivoj Belic, professor of physics in the Science Program at Texas A&M at Qatar, 2015 was a banner year: multiple awards, fruitful collaboration with various research groups, advances in photonics research and chairing a major conference — the first of its kind in Qatar.
Belic’s primary research area, photonics, is the science of generating, detecting and manipulating light. Photonics brought us fiber optics and lasers and today is driving economic growth in fields such as renewable energy, healthcare and information technology. This last area is where Belic is focusing his attention, specifically on the fields of optoelectronics and light-based computing.
Computers have been getting faster for decades, doubling in speed roughly every 18 months. There is, however, a limit to how small and fast we can build electronic computers, which is where light-based computing comes in. Already there are systems that use light to connect devices like memory and processors or to link different computers, but the electronic components cause a bottleneck in the machine. A light-based system could overcome such hurdles, giving us faster and more efficient computers. But to make light-based computers a reality we’ll need a better understanding of optical propagation equations, which describe how light moves through a linear or nonlinear medium. This sort of optics research, which started as a QNRF project, is the focus of Belic and a research team he heads that won QNRF’s Best Research Team in 2014.
The 2014 award is but one of several that Belic and his team have received during his time at Texas A&M at Qatar. His research team also received the QNRF Research Team award in 2012 and awards from Texas A&M at Qatar for teaching and research team excellence in 2012 and 2013.
This streak of prestigious awards continued in 2015 when Belic received the first-ever Al Sraiya Holding Professorship. The professorship is sponsored by Al Sraiya Holding Group, a Qatari construction industry group established in 1975, and is the first-ever privately funded professorship to be established in Qatar. The award will help support Belic’s academic and research work for the next three years, demonstrating the group’s investment in science and technology education in Qatar. A panel of Texas A&M professors selected Belic for this award because of his research and teaching work, the 2012 and 2014 QNRF awards and the more than $6 million in QNRF funding he has secured.
In addition to his research and awards, Belic organized and chaired the Photonics Middle East Conference (PMEC), a scientific meeting held at the HBKU campus in December 2015. The PMEC featured lectures, presentations and poster sessions related to photonics research. The conference was part of the International Year of Light, a year-long U.N.-proclaimed program to increase awareness of light research and how it solves modern challenges in fields such as energy, agriculture and health.
Chairing the PMEC and receiving such prestigious awards reflects well not only on Belic’s research and teaching, but on Texas A&M at Qatar’s overall commitment to build the next generation of scientists and engineers who will work to solve Qatar’s future challenges.
Some of the biggest challenges society faces are in energy and the environment and in healthcare. Researchers at Texas A&M at Qatar, including undergraduate and graduate students, are using signal processing and other engineering techniques to diagnose heart abnormalities, design exoskeleton-based rehabilitation systems and develop novel engine control techniques for higher efficiency and lower emissions.
Dr. Reza Tafreshi, associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar, is leading a research project that uses signal processing methods to diagnose malfunctioning hearts. Physicians use electrocardiograph (ECG) data to look for problems with how a heart is working. ECG waveforms are the familiar series of peaks and valleys, the strength and timing of which shows how well the heart is working. But finding waveform abnormalities, which would point to a problem, is time consuming. To help with this, Tafreshi and his students have developed a system that automatically looks at an ECG waveform to detect abnormalities in the timing of different intervals within a heartbeat.
Tafreshi has also used signal processing in other health-related areas, with previous work aimed at detecting and predicting seizures and studying different stages of sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions. In addition, Tafreshi recently received a QNRF grant for a project using signal processing to study muscle activity in stroke patients with an eye toward rehabilitation.
This signal processing research has big health implications, but for Tafreshi, the work started in engine research. He worked on taking engine-vibration measurements and analyzing that data to detect knocks, valve issues and other malfunctions to improve engine diagnostics. That work lives on in health research, but Tafreshi continues to study engines at the same time, starting an advanced engine research facility at Texas A&M at Qatar.
In 2009, Tafreshi initiated the Engine Research Test Laboratory (ERTL) with the goal of investigating properties that affect engine performance. ERTL started out with a single-cylinder diesel engine and some test equipment, and has since grown to include four-cylinder diesel and six-cylinder petrol testbeds and state-of-the-art instruments to measure engine emissions. The goal of this research is to develop mathematical models of engines and catalysts to optimize fuel economy and reduce emissions. “The main issue is to control an engine’s air/fuel ratio for the purpose of lower emissions and higher efficiency,” Tafreshi says.
The ERTL brought most of its equipment online last year, giving researchers a way to measure carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and various nitrogen-based compounds in emissions in great detail. Some instruments give a steady state emissions measurements, but the test equipment in the ERTL are able to collect data on very short time scales, giving researchers a way to get emissions data from each engine cycle.
This research has potential commercial benefits, something demonstrated by recent collaboration between ERTL and Oryx GTL, an organization in Qatar that makes liquid fuels, such as diesel, out of natural gas. Oryx GTL wanted to compare their synthetic diesel against conventional diesel products in terms of efficiency and emissions.
Both through ERTL and his medical signal processing research, Tafreshi is having a big effect on students at the branch campus. There are about 11 undergraduate students working in the ERTL and about another six working on heart signal-processing research.
When Dr. Bing Guo arrived in Doha in 2013 as an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Program, he says he knew he would need to find a new research project to work on. And one presented itself right away when Guo toured a solar power testing facility. He saw that most of the facility’s photovoltaic (PV) panels were covered in a thick layer of dust, something the solar industry calls soiling. This single observation is what led Guo to create a dust research laboratory at the branch campus.
Solar power generation is a growing field of interest in Qatar, where windblown dust is a fact of life. Guo and his students are studying the degree to which soiling affects PV power generation and the role that variables such as airborne dust concentration, wind speed and relative humidity might play.
Airborne dust that deposits on PV panel surfaces blocks sunlight, reducing the panel’s electrical output. This power drop amounts to roughly 15 percent per month, and grows as dust accumulates during Qatar’s dry summer season. “Over a year you could lose more than 20 percent of electricity output compared to a clean PV panel,” Guo says.
After studying performance and environmental variables over 24-hour cycles, Guo’s team found a few trends. First is a correlation between increases in wind speed and lower levels of soiling. The high winds that are often associated with higher dust concentrations in the air also blow some of the already deposited dust off of panel surfaces. Another environmental variable playing a role is relative humidity. The team found that humid air helps dust particles stick to panels, leading to further degradation of power output.
One straightforward solution to soiling is to wash dust off of PV panels with water. But water is a precious resource in Qatar, so Guo and his team decided to pursue a method that uses a small fraction of the electricity that the panel generates. The general idea of their technique — sending alternating electrical pulses through electrodes embedded in a transparent layer covering the PV panel — has its roots in decades-old work intended for use in Mars rovers and space stations. But the idea has seen little follow-up in the years since. “No one has systematically tested this on Earth in a dusty environment,” Guo says.
Additionally, previous research has focused on much smaller panels than those used in PV power generation. Guo says making this device larger is a different game, especially considering the cost-conscious nature of the PV industry.
Preliminary tests of the electrodynamic dust shield have shown promise and Guo’s next step is to carry out a larger assessment in a testing facility, which he plans to do early in 2016. His team will use an identical pair of dust shield-equipped arrays, each consisting of 15 panels measuring 1.2 meters by 0.6 meters. One array will run power to the dust shield while the other will stay unpowered as a control.
Guo says if the tests show promise, people will take it more seriously. The idea is to create a flexible electrical dust shield that uses relatively inexpensive technology that’s widely available. Qatar Foundation’s Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer office has filed a provisional patent application on Guo’s invention. Keeping the wants and needs of industry in mind is the way to make an invention, Guo says.
The plight of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370) is one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history, and an interdisciplinary research team led by Texas A&M at Qatar’s Dr. Goong “Gordon” Chen theorized the ill-fated plane plunged vertically into the southern Indian Ocean in March 2014.
The research was the cover story in the April 2015 issue of Notices of the American Mathematical Society and made headlines all over the world, including CNN, the Huffington Post and International Business Times. And in December, the American Mathematical Society named it one of the Top 10 math stories of the year.
Chen is an applied mathematician who led the interdisciplinary team of collaborators from Texas A&M, Penn State, Virginia Tech, MIT and the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) in simulating and modeling what might have happened to the plane. His research is supported by the QNRF National Priority Research Program.
The researchers used applied mathematics and computational fluid dynamics to conduct numerical simulations on the RAAD Supercomputer at Texas A&M at Qatar of a Boeing 777 plunging into the ocean, a so-called “water entry” problem in applied mathematics and aerospace engineering. The team simulated five different scenarios and concluded that based on all available evidence — especially the lack of floating debris or oil spills near the area of the presumed crash — the mostly likely theory is that the plane entered the water at a vertical or steep angle.
The fluid dynamic simulations indicated that for a vertical water entry of the plane, there would be no large bending moment, which is what happens when an external force, or moment, is applied to a structural element (such as a plane), which then causes the fuselage to buckle and break up. As the vertical water-entry is the smoothest with only a small bending moment in contrast with other angles of entry, the aircraft is less likely to experience “global failure,” or break up on entry near the ocean surface — which would explain the lack of debris or oil near the presumed crash site.
Based also on the suggestions of other aviation experts, Chen says in such a situation the wings would have broken off almost immediately and, along with other heavy debris, would have sunk to the bottom of the ocean, leaving little or no trace to be spotted.
“The true final moments of MH370 are likely to remain a mystery until someday when its black box is finally recovered and decoded,” Chen says. “But forensics strongly supports that MH370 plunged into the ocean in a nosedive.”
One of the measures of success for research is when it is translated into real-world technologies. Last year, Dr. Shehab Ahmed, an associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program, saw that sort of success when a project he worked on led to a new patent. That technology, stemming from a partnership between RasGas and Texas A&M at Qatar, is now being licensed for use by Modus, an oil-and-gas product design and development startup Ahmed co-founded in 2013.
The product is part of a suite of equipment, known as wireline logging tools, used to collect data from inside wellbores. In some areas, such as Qatar’s North Field, it is challenging to convey wireline tools in the wellbore due to ledges and wellbore enlargements resulting from lithology and drilling conditions. The new technology enables a higher rate of success for wireline tool descents into the wellbore by using ledge contact energy to help steer the tool string away from ledges and back into the main borehole.
Next up for Modus is a new drill bit product line called Almas, which the company developed with its proprietary drill bit design software. The Almas product line utilizes an innovative cutter distribution on the drill bit blades to enhance bit reliability and performance. Although the GCC is one of the main markets for drill bits, the Modus Almas product line is the first product fully designed and manufactured in the GCC. “We’ve always wanted to develop our own technology instead of being ‘the consumers,’ and we have finally made that happen,” Ahmed says.
Almas has had a number of successful field trials, showing that the drill bit performs well. The next step for Modus is to market the technology and its design and development services to other companies in the region.
The commercialization of new technology plays a large role in Qatar’s plans to diversify its economy and grow its workforce. Ahmed says, “Companies typically partner with universities like Texas A&M at Qatar as part of their corporate social responsibility; however, it is the business-driven partnerships that typically result in impactful outcomes.” The technologies developed at the branch campuses are then held and licensed by Qatar Foundation.
This research is part of an overarching goal to move Qatar from an economy based on oil and gas, to one based more on technology. Locally developed technology with an existing local market is the best way to build a local talent base. Modus is also looking beyond Qatar to the rest of the GCC as a possible market for their technologies. Much like how France has no oil reserves but is the home of the oil and gas product and services industry leader Schlumberger, Modus aims to push its technology from Qatar into the rest of the GCC and the greater MENA regions.
Expanding knowledge and growing Qatar’s economy are only a part of what motivates Ahmed. “One of the goals is to train university students,” he says. The partnership between Texas A&M at Qatar and private companies such as Modus gives students a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience and helps industry build the next generation of innovative problem solvers. “We have good infrastructure for research and development in Qatar, and we need to all get together in order to help translate our re-search into tangible outcomes,” Ahmed says.
For Dr. Robert Balog, associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar, the outlook is sunny for Qatar. You see, Balog’s research is in solar energy, and sunshine is certainly plentiful in Qatar.
Balog came to Qatar as a tenured member of the faculty at Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station, Texas, USA, where he is the director of the Renewable Energy and Advanced Power Electronics Research lab. With a joint appointment at the Qatar branch campus, Balog continues his work on how to improve renewable energy systems for the betterment of Qatar and the rest of the world.
With his years of experience in both academia and industry, Balog brings an inventive spirit with his expertise in the field of power electronics. Balog has long been an inventor and has 14 U.S. patents in his name and additional ones pending, showing the practical nature of his work. Patents, Balog says, show that the technology addresses a need of society and can be reduced to practice to solve that need. In addition to these patents, Balog has seven years of industry experience from before and after his graduate studies, giving a unique perspective on technology transfer from the research lab to consumers’ hands.
Balog’s area of expertise is power electronics, with a focus on expanding solar energy use and integrating it into the nation’s electric grid. His newest projects are pushing the leading edge in this arena. The first is a smartphone app that uses technical and financial information to automatically design a solar energy system so a homeowner can explore form, fit, function and financial options customized exclusively for him or her. Another project is the one that brought Balog to Qatar in the first place, as part of a team working on a $4.6 million NPRP–EP project to create a power inverter that would take up to one megawatt from solar energy systems and feed it into Qatar’s electric grid.
Balog is also leading a Qatar National Research Fund project aimed at developing a thin photovoltaic (PV) fabric that would allow clothing or roofing materials to generate electricity. Solar cells are much less expensive to produce than before, which presents new opportunities, such as integrating PV materials — which Balog calls smart PV skin — into structures that will generate electricity unobtrusively to maximize energy production without impacting the aesthetics, which is significant to preserve the beautiful architecture of the buildings and sports stadiums in Qatar.
In addition to their eventual benefits to Qatar’s economy and humanity as a whole, these projects provide opportunity for students who are using his research to gain hands-on experience. A group of electrical engineering students are applying concepts from this research, with help from a local company, exploring how smart PV skin can be integrated into a canopy for a park bench to provide both shade and electricity that can be used to charge phones. This project gives those students experience applying technology to solve real-world problems, which Balog says is the essence of engineering.
A new collaborative agreement between Texas A&M at Qatar, Qatar University and Qatar’s leading mobile phone and Internet provider, Ooredoo, promises the enrichment of Qatari students and new advances in wireless communications including green wireless, power grid communication and crisis management.
Dr. Khalid Qaraqe, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar, played a key role in securing this new three-year agreement that builds on previous partnerships with industry. Thanks to this new collaboration, undergraduate students from the branch campus will gain experience in groundbreaking fields of wireless communications, building Qatar’s future workforce.
Cellular and other wireless networks are seeing tremendous and accelerating growth. The rapid adoption of smart phones and wireless networks has cellular and internet providers scrambling to provide the quality of service and prices users expect.
One of the main costs for wireless providers is the expense of deploying and powering base stations. One of the research projects in the new agreement focuses on so-called green wireless. The growing number of base stations in use calls for an increasing amount of electrical power. The idea behind the green wireless project is to improve how base stations manage network traffic and use wireless frequencies to reduce the number of base stations needed, thus cutting power use — all while giving wireless customers better service.
Another area of research interest covered in this partnership is improving wireless communications during disasters. Informing the public, coordinating first responders and contacting friends and family are a few of the activities that increase the load on communications networks during a crisis, reducing quality of service. And that combines with any communications infrastructure damage or power outages caused by the disaster to compound the problem.
Student and faculty researchers are working to solve such problems by developing portable wireless base stations that can restore communications during a disaster. In addition, these base stations would be able to broadcast information to people’s mobile devices and because most people keep their phones and tablets close by, use those devices to locate people who are unable to move due to injury or being trapped by wreckage.
One more research topic is in the field of medical communications. This work is aimed at allowing people to remotely communicate with their physicians and giving doctors a way to monitor patient vital signs through Bluetooth-enabled medical sensors and smart phone or tablet applications. When building those applications, however, researchers will need to make the way they use wireless networks as efficient as possible. “These things need high- speed data,” Qaraqe says.
These are just a few of the areas in wireless communications that are rapidly advancing. Students, faculty and research associates at Texas A&M at Qatar will — thanks to this new partnership — contribute to the field and gain valuable hands-on experience in new technologies.
A new program launched by Texas A&M at Qatar in collaboration with founding supporter and longtime partner ORYX GTL will prepare the highly skilled engineers, research infrastructure and technical staff needed to lead and operate Qatar’s world-class industrial facilities. ORYX GTL will fund the ORYX GTL–Gas-to-Liquid Excellence Program for five years with the option to continue its support beyond 2020.
Globally, this is the first specialized university-industry program in gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology and is supported by the TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center, both in Qatar and the United States. This is also the first Texas A&M at Qatar initiative to address all three pillars of the academic institution in one program, combining elements of teaching, research and community outreach. The partnership also supports the pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030 — particularly in developing human capacity that will provide valuable expertise for Qatar’s growth and prosperity.
The program is a natural extension of its own core values, says ORYX GTL Chief Administration Officer Abdulhadi Barqan. “Valuing people is a core business principle of ORYX GTL. It is a principle which governs our actions both internally and externally whilst interacting with the wider community. We believe empowering people to make the most of their abilities enables them to take ownership of their individual destiny.”
Through this partnership, Texas A&M at Qatar will educate the public in Qatar — starting from school students to college students, to working engineers and technical staff — about the role of GTL in Qatar’s economy and in the future of global energy for the production of ultra-clean fuels and value-added chemicals. The program will also support ORYX GTL outreach activities and public programs besides supporting the recruitment of highly qualified Qatari and others students to join the company.
The ORYX GTL–Gas-to-Liquid Excellence Program will advance Qatar’s leading role in the gas-to-liquid field, and build teaching, training and research excellence in natural gas processing for value-added chemicals and fuels; enhance collaboration between ORYX GTL and Texas A&M at Qatar in terms of service, research, training and recruitment programs; facilitate the training of highly skilled engineers and technical staff to lead the GTL field in Qatar; provide professional services and training courses in Qatar in areas relevant to GTL; develop courses and programs for training highly skilled engineers, technicians and other staff in the area of GTL, as well as synthetic fuels characterization and processing; and support Qatar National Vision 2030 in building human and research capital in the clean energy field.
Leading the program is Dr. Nimir Elbashir, associate professor of chemical engineering and petroleum engineering, and the director of the TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center. His team of 25 researchers — including postdocs, Ph.D. research scientists, and graduate and undergraduate students — handles many projects of critical interest to Qatar’s natural gas-processing technologies and his team collaborates with both national and international energy corporations. The Fuel Characterization Lab and the Applied Catalysis Lab of Texas A&M Qatar will also support this program; both labs are equipped with multimillion-dollar equipment run by highly skilled researchers and technical staff. Several elements of this program have already been implemented, including special courses for the undergraduate and graduate levels specializing in GTL technology, research activities related to GTL fuels and lubricants, and other outreach activities.
Elbashir says the uniqueness of the program will be key in its future success. “I have witnessed many major accomplishments in the establishment of strong relations between academia and industry, but this step is unique in the form of its academic, research, service and community outreach programs. This collaboration goes further to partner with us to build knowledge in a field of critical interest to Qatar’s economy and the future of global energy.”
2015 was another booming year for Texas A&M at Qatar research, with major funding proposal successes and other recognition from the Qatar National Research Foundation’s (QNRF) National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) and the success of the branch campus’ Annual Research-Industry Partnership Showcase.
In 2015, 29 research institutions in Qatar submitted a total of 869 projects to the NPRP, with Texas A&M at Qatar research teams winning 23 of the 120 awarded proposals. These winning proposals and other awards given at the QNRF Seventh Annual Research Forum demonstrate what Texas A&M at Qatar leaders say is the world-class caliber of the branch campus’ faculty and research staff.
The NPRP is a program aimed at building research in Qatar with the end goals of bringing about developments to benefit Qatar and the world, and building the nation’s workforce and raising it’s standing in the international research realm. NPRP proposals fall into a wide range of research areas, ranging from arts and humanities, to medicine, to electrical engineering. Texas A&M at Qatar’s programs in chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, petroleum engineering, and science all took home NPRP awards.
In addition to the 23 winning NPRP proposals, the branch campus took home honors for two NPRP-Exceptional Proposals (NPRP-EP), which are given to research projects that show high levels of scientific merit, address regional, national or global issues and require larger amounts of funding. Texas A&M at Qatar received two of the three NPRP-EP awards for 2015, bringing in more than $9 million for work focusing on carbon dioxide conversion and polymer synthesis. These two projects have the potential to improve energy production and manufacturing in an environmentally friendly way.
Texas A&M at Qatar faculty also collected QNRF awards for best researcher, best research project and best research office.
Dr. Haitham Abu-Rub, professor and chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program, took home the Best Researcher of the Year award for 2015. Abu-Rub was honored for the tremendous volume of power electronics and renewable energy research his group produced, putting out 25 journal papers, 11 conference papers, a book and four patent disclosures.
QNRF’s Best Research Project award went to Tingwen Huang, professor in the science program, for his work on subjects critical to Qatar’s development such as neural networks, complex networks, and smart grid technologies.
A major part of Texas A&M at Qatar’s vibrant research program is undergraduate research, combining two of the branch campus’ core missions — education and research. Classroom instruction provides students with knowledge, but the opportunity to apply those concepts to real-world problems and explorations through participation in a research project provides a taste of what it is really like to be an engineer. Participation in research on problems that are relevant to Qatar thereby enhances student learning by integrating students into faculty’s hands-on research activities.
Texas A&M at Qatar places great value on student-driven research, and active undergraduate research program is supported in large part by the Qatar National Research Fund’s Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP). Since the branch campus began participating in UREP, more than 350 students have worked on 111 total projects totaling $3.54 million.
Advised by faculty mentors, and working with other members of a research team, the student researchers carry out literature reviews, design research modules, collect and analyze data, and present their ideas and research findings. By participating in undergraduate research, students improve their disciplinary skills, learn research methodology, and become better presenters and writers. Undergraduate research helps student participants build self-confidence, gain a sense of accomplishment, make better-informed career decisions, and position themselves for employment or advanced studies. Participation in research also allows students to share their results with the world community through publications in refereed journals and international conferences. Many Texas A&M at Qatar students have received local, regional and international awards as a result of their research.
Undergraduate research is also a spring-board into graduate school. Dr. Nayef Alyafei, one of Texas A&M at Qatar’s newest petroleum engineering faculty members, says that he discovered his true calling when he himself participated in two research projects with faculty members while enrolled at Texas A&M at Qatar as a student. “Research is fun because you get to explore a problem you don’t have an answer for,” he says. “You’re in the middle of a maze, trying to find the exit, or the solution. And in the process you learn a lot.”
It’s something he says he hopes his own students will discover for themselves. “I don’t want my students to simply get their bachelor’s degrees and go straight to work,” he says. “I want to encourage them to pursue post-graduate studies before applying to jobs in Qatar, because we need high-caliber people in this country. Hopefully, students will see me and know that if I did it, they can do it, too, and if I can inspire one student to get a Ph.D. then I’ll have done my job.”
A new website, ur.qatar.tamu.edu, highlights the achievements of Texas A&M at Qatar’s student researchers and showcases the variety of projects students have been involved in, ranging from how high temperatures and pressures affect the rheological proper-ties of drilling fluids to data transfer via visible light communications to noninvasive wireless health monitoring systems. Whatever the topic, Texas A&M at Qatar provides its students opportunities to find solutions to real-world, real-life problems.
Research at Texas A&M at Qatar contributes to Qatar’s thriving industry and economy. We seek more effective oil and gas production, faster development of alternative energy sources, and better energy efficiency in buildings. We are developing novel methods for hazardous waste water treatment, we propose innovative materials; and we are studying methods for better mobile phone and internet performance. This engineering research is reinforced by fundamental studies in physics, chemistry and mathematics.