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KNOXVILLE—Mingjun Zhang, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received more than $168,000 from the US Department of Defense to buy equipment to advance his nanoparticle research.

Zhang is known for looking to nature for inspiration in addressing technical challenges.

Zhang’s award is being made under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) that augments current university capabilities or develops new university capabilities to perform cutting-edge defense research.

Zhang’s past research has discovered that ivy secretes nanoparticles that may protect skin from UV radiation much better than the metal-based sunblocks now on the market. His discovery of a unique swimming technique used by a pathogen is also under investigation for bio-inspired micro-robots for nanomedicine.

Zhang’s DURIP funds will go to purchase instruments for characterizing nanoscale mechanics of nanoparticles. The cutting-edge instrumentation will be operated by graduate and undergraduate students to collect data for his team’s research on nanoparticles.

“This instrument will significantly advance our nanoparticle research,” Zhang said.

The Department of Defense plans to award 190 awards, totaling $54.7 million, to 100 academic institutions to support the purchase of state-of-the-art research equipment.

These planned awards are the result of a merit competition for DURIP funding conducted by the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Each office requested proposals from university investigators conducting science and engineering research of importance to the Department of Defense. In response to the requests, the research offices collectively received more than 700 proposals requesting $226 million in support for research equipment. All awards are subject to the successful completion of negotiations between the Department of Defense research offices and the academic institutions.

The list of winning proposals can be found at the Department of Defense website (pdf).

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,