News

MIT Portugal-enabled Research Reveals “DNA of Concrete”

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A group of MIT researchers has accomplished something that has eluded other investigatiors: they have decoded the three-dimensional structure of the basic unit of cement hydrate. This noteworthy research was funded by the Portuguese cement manufacturer, Cimpor Corp., and was enabled through the MIT Portugal Program.

The findings were made public in a paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) during the week of Sept. 7, 2009.

In its work, the research team – which dubbed itself “Liquid Stone” – determined that concrete’s strength is a result of certain structural irregularities, rather than a neat geometric arrangement. It also found that the calcium-silica-hydrate in cement isn't really a crystal, as had been assumed; it turns out to be a hybrid that shares some characteristics with crystalline structures and some with the amorphous structure of frozen liquids, such as glass or ice.

One member of the MIT team, Franz-Josef Ulm, the Macomber Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said, "We've known for several years that at the nano scale, cement hydrates pack together tightly like oranges in a grocer's pyramid. Now, we've finally been able to look inside the orange to find its fundamental signature. I call it the DNA of concrete.”

According to Prof. Ulm, "Now that we have a validated molecular model, we can manipulate the chemical structure to design concrete for strength and environmental qualities, such as the ability to withstand higher pressure or temperature.”

This story draws on a more detailed account by Denise Brehm published on the MIT News Office website.

 

FCT Call for Research Proposals Opened to Portuguese and MIT Researchers, Companies

Monday, 07 September 2009

New funding and research collaboration opportunities with the MIT Portugal Program are now open to Portuguese and MIT researchers, as well as companies.

The Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) has opened a competition to fund research projects in the context of a mid-course strategic reexamination by the MIT Portugal Program that identified priority areas of research: sustainable energy and transportation systems; stem cell engineering for regenerative medicine; and materials and design-inspired products. The Call is open to proposals for joint research in these three areas, as well as in the fundamentals of engineering systems.

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Updated Abstracts e-Book Available from MPP 1st Annual Conference

Wednesday, 05 August 2009

One of the standout features of the MIT Portugal Program’s 1st Annual Conference, “Engineering for Better Jobs,” held at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon July 7, 2009, were the poster exhibitions depicting the broad range of research being conducted by 110 of the Program’s doctoral students and 30 of its researchers.

An updated edition of the icon Conference Abstracts e-Book is now available (PDF).  

Poster displayThe e-book – which was edited by Prof. Antonio M. Cunha, President of the School of Engineering at the University of Minho and co-lead of MIT Portugal’s materials and design-inspired group, and Olga S. Carneiro, Associate Professor at the Institute for Polymers and Composites at the University of Minho – is organized by research areas. For the work presented by MIT Portugal researchers, these include Bioengineering Systems; Materials and Design-Inspired Products; and Sustainable Energy and Transportation Systems. For doctoral students, the categories are Bioengineering Systems; Sustainable Energy Systems; and Transportation Systems. The book also lists abstracts for those Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing PhD students in the Leaders for Technical Industries course, as well as abstracts of the keynotes delivered at the conference.

icon MIT Portugal 1st Annual Conference Program

 

MIT Portugal Researchers Present at Ciência 2009

Saturday, 01 August 2009

MIT Program faculty and researchers offered numerous presentations at Ciência 2009, an annual event that highlights achievements in science and technology in Portugal.

Ciência 2009, which was held July 29–30 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, and which was organized by the Council of Associate Laboratories with the support of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), gathered researchers from across the Portuguese scientific community, including many who work at Associate Laboratories.

Several of the scientific panels were organized in collaboration with MIT Portugal – those on Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine; Electric Vehicles and New Forms of Mobility; New Materials for New Products; and Sustainable Energy and Transportation Systems.

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New Engineering Systems Consortium to Formalize MIT Portugal R&D Collaborations

Friday, 31 July 2009

An agreement was signed in Lisbon on July 30, 2009 to form an Engineering Systems Consortium comprised of the 27 educational and research institutions that partner with the MIT Portugal Program.

The consortium formalizes these institutions’ collaborations with the Program on advanced R&D projects designed to make significant contributions to Portugal’s economic development, and will help further the goal of fostering collaborative higher education in Portugal.

Prof. António Cruz Serra, President of IST, and Prof. Carlos Costa, President of FEUP, signing the consortium agreement at Ciência 2009.About the consortium, Prof. Carlos Costa, President of the Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto said, "The Engineering Systems Consortium represents an important step for FEUP, as we move ahead with our peer institutions and laboratories to institutionalize the successes to date of the MIT-Portugal Program and work toward future programs of research, industry engagement, and academic innovation in order to benefit Portugal's economy."

The consortium agreement, which was signed at the Gulbenkian Foundation at the closing session of Ciência 2009, an annual event that highlights achievements in science and technology in Portugal, acknowledges MIT Portugal’s successes since its launching in October 2006, as well as approval of the Program’s reexamined strategy, which was presented in Lisbon on July 7, 2009 at the 1st Annual Conference, “Engineering for Better Jobs.”

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