Bahl, Langbort lead MURI projects


Miranda Holloway

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Grainger College of Engineering are either leading or involved with six projects selected for funding from the Department of Defense—totaling more projects than any other institution. 
Two Grainger Engineering professors are principal investigators on proposals, while four more are working alongside colleagues from other institutions.  
The DoD’s multidisciplinary university research initiative distributed $185 million in awards to 26 projects. These five-year grants are highly competitive and bring together teams of investigators to help solve the department’s unique problems with emerging technologies.  
“Modern science and engineering problems often intersect more than one scientific discipline,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, DoD’s Deputy Director for Basic Research. “Research of these problems is particularly well suited to a multidisciplinary team effort, which accelerates research progress to enable more rapid R&D breakthroughs by cross-fertilization of ideas, and can hasten the transition of basic research findings to practical applications.”
Associate Professor Gaurav Bahl
Associate Professor Gaurav Bahl
Mechanical science and engineering associate professor Gaurav Bahl and aerospace engineering associate professor Cedric Langbort are leads on proposals awarded funding through MURI. 
Bahl’s $7.5 million award is for his proposal “Robust Photonic Materials with High-Order Topological Protection” about photonic high order topological insulators. 
“This generous MURI grant will further enable our work to build exciting new photonic systems using topologically protected components, which be immune to disorder in nano-manufacturing, or damage that may occur in harsh real-world environments," Bahl said. 
Bahl’s co-PIs are physics professor Taylor Hughes, Mikael Rechtsman of Penn State, Bo Zhen of University of Pennsylvania, Mohammad Hafezi of the University of Maryland, and Marin Soljačić of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
 Langbort’s $6.5 million award is for his proposal “A Multimodal Approach to Network Information Dynamics” about information exchange network dynamics.
This research would help answer questions like how and why misinformation and fake news spread so widely during the 2016 US Presidential Election, Langbort said in his proposal.  
Langbort’s co-PI’s are electrical and computer engineering professor Tamer Başar, psychology professor Michel Regenwetter, and Stanford University’s Matthew Gentzkow, Jeff Hancock and Johan Ugander. 
Grainger researchers are also involved in the following projects:
  • Active and Reconfigurable Topological Mechanical Metamaterials from the Nanoscale to the Macroscale 
  • Implementation of Axion Electrodynamics in Topological Films and Devices
  • Endosymbiont Control and Enhancement of Leafhopper Brochosomes
  • Unraveling the Mechanisms of Ice Nucleation and Anti-Icing Through an Integrated Multiscale Approach