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Research Labs

The research labs of the department

Air Quality and Aerosol Technology Laboratory 

The laboratory is well-equipped for the study of particle/gas systems with applications to pollution control and commercial production of fine particles. Instrumentation available includes optical particle counters, electrical aerosol analyzers, and condensation nuclei counters. A novel low-pressure impactor can fractionate particles for chemical analysis in size ranges down to 0.05 micron. Also available are several types of aerosol generators and a size classifier for the submicron range. Instrumentation for chemical analyses includes an ion-chromatograph, an organic carbon analyzer, a high-pressure liquid chromatograph, and a flame ionization detector.

These facilities permit studies of the dynamics of aerosol flow reactors. These are gaseous systems in which fine particles are formed by chemical reaction either in a batch or flow process. Such reactors are operated for the commercial production of fine powders and the manufacture of optical fibers. The goal is the development of useful design relationships based on theory and experiment.

A novel system capable of the chemical analysis of flowing aerosols by Raman spectroscopy has been designed in collaboration with the Chemistry Department. A variety of aerosol generators including vibrating orifice generators, nebulizers and excimer laser ablation systems are on hand in the Laboratory.

Computation facilities and data acquisition systems are also available.


Biochemical Engineering Laboratory

These laboratories are equipped for (1) aerobic or strictly anaerobic fermentations from the shake flask to 100-liter pilot-plant scale, (2) production, isolation, and purification of enzymes from recombinant or natural bacterial and yeast sources, (3) traditional enzymology as well as electroenzymology, and (4) production and characterization of biological and semi-synthetic colloids such as micelles and vesicles. Both standard fermentations at mesophyllic and extremophyllic cultures at extremes of temperature (up to 100 degrees C) and pH are conducted routinely. Environmentally controlled incubators are available for shake-flask studies. These cultures may be scaled to two to three liter batch or continuous fermenters such as the NBS Bioflow III or a custom high-temperature system. All fermenters are fully controlled and include automated feed and off-gas analysis. A unique, glass-lined steel 100-liter fermenter, which was designed and installed by UCLA biochemical engineers, is used for pilot-scale fermentations. Biomass may be harvested with Beckman J2-21 Superspeed centrifuge. A 45-cubic-foot chromatography refrigerator, a large supply of chromatography columns and fittings, and ultrafiltration systems (batch and continuous hollow-fiber) are available for purifying enzymes.

Organic synthesis reactions catalyzed by electrochemically active redox enzymes such as cytochrome P450cam are studied using customized equipment for cyclic voltammetry, potential step transient-decay analysis, and coulometry. Enzymes are studied in free aqueous solution, as well as micelles, vesicles, and adsorbed layers. A Wyatt Dawn F HeNe laser photometer is used to characterize micelles and vesicles.

A variety of modern analytical equipment is available to support biochemical engineering research, including a Beckman DU-65 scanning spectrophotometer outfitted with a customized cuvette for spectroelectrochemical studies; two HPLCs, a Beckman and a Spectraphysics unit suitable for preparative-scale separations; and three gas chromatographs, one equipped with an electron with an electron capture detector. 


Cryogenics Laboratory

The laboratory has equipment and instrumentation for experimental studies in the area of cryogenics for superconducting magnets. These studies include quasi-steady cooling modes available for superconductivity and transients which lead to quenches of the superconducting state; the specific thermodynamic states near-saturated liquid close to vapor/liquid equilibrium, and pressurized He II between 1 bar and the thermodynamic critical pressure; and axial transport of entropy and heat in cryogenic coolant ducts.


Electrochemical Engineering and Catalysis Laboratories

Instrumentation such as rotating ring-disk electrodes, electrochemical packed-bed flow reactors, gas chromatographs, potentiostats, and function generators is available for studies of metal, alloy and semiconductor corrosion processes, electrodeposition and electroless deposition, electrochemical energy conversion (fuel cells) and storage (batteries), and bioelectrochemical processes. 

The electroorganic synthesis facility is used for the development of electrochemical processes to transform biomass-derived organic compounds into useful chemicals, fuels, and pharmaceuticals. 

The catalysis facility is equipped to support various types of catalysis projects. These include catalytic hydrocarbon oxidation, selective catalytic reduction of NOx, and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. 


Electronic Materials Processing Laboratory

This laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for studying the molecular processes which occur during the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of compound semiconductors. CVD is a key technology for synthesizing advanced electronic and optical devices, including solid-state lasers, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet detectors and emitters, solar cells, optical filters, heterojunction bipolar transistors, and high-electron mobility transistors. The laboratory houses several CVD reactors for the synthesis of II-VI and III-V compound semiconductors devices. These are interfaced to gas chromatographs and infrared spectrometers for in situ monitoring of surface and gas reactions. Computer codes have been developed which simulate the molecular chemical kinetics and transport phenomena taking place during film growth. In addition, the laboratory contains four ultrahigh vacuum chambers equipped with low-energy electron diffraction; thermal-desorption, infrared, and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopies; scanning tunneling microscopy and effusive- and electron-beam dosers for the reagent molecules. These apparatus are used to characterize the atomic structure of compound semiconductor surfaces (i.e., GaAs, InP, ZnSe, and CdTe) and to determine the decomposition mechanisms and kinetics of organometallic molecules on these surfaces.

The knowledge gained from research in this laboratory may be used to develop new CVD processes for synthesizing high-performance optoelectronic devices. 


Environmental Reaction Engineering Laboratory

Studies performed in these laboratories focus on the structure and reactivity of complex organic mixtures, such as atmospheric pollutants, combustion products, mixtures of petroleum products and hazardous wastes. Experimental projects utilize the analytical facilities available in the laboratory, which include fully computerized capillary gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), laser photoionization (LP) time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF/MS). Detailed chemical kinetic mechanisms (DCKM) describing these complex processes are also developed using various forms of additivity principles, structure activity relationships (SAR), Evans-Polanyi type of analysis and computational quantum chemistry. These laboratories are also equipped with a number of high-end work stations. 


Chemical Reaction Engineering and Combustion Research Laboratory

These laboratories are equipped with some of the most advanced research tools to undertake experimental and computational studies in high-temperature chemical kinetics and combustion, including a differentially pumped, modulated beam, quadrupole mass spectrometer (MBMS) systems to sample reactive systems; two fully computerized high resolution capillary gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS) systems for gas analysis; two atmospheric and subatmospheric pressure premixed flat flame burner facilities; one opposed jet diffusion flame burner and one co-flow burner systems; several flow reactors to study catalytic and other types of reactions; a laser photoionization (LP) time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer (MS) system for the ultrasensitive and real time detection of trace species in the gas phase; a single piston gasoline and diesel engines with dynamometers to study pollutant formation and control in internal combustion engines; a fully computerized gravimetric micro-balance reactor to study gas-solid reactions. In addition, several high speed workstations and software for molecular and fluid mechanical simulations are available.

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 Polymer Engineering and Separations (PolySep) Laboratory

Studies at the polymer engineering and separations (POLYSEP) laboratory focus on separation processes using membranes and polymeric sorption resins, polymer/solid interfaces, graft polymerization and the flow behavior of complex fluids in confined geometries. Recent advances include the development of novel ceramic-supported polymer membranes for protein ultrafiltration and pervaporation of VOCs from aqueous mixtures. The laboratory is equipped to study the flow behavior of polymeric fluids, separation processes using membranes and polymeric resins and polymer/solid interfaces. The laboratory is also equipped with an automated adsorption/desorption system and four membrane systems to study ultrafiltration and pervaporation using polymeric and novel ceramic-polymer composite membranes. State-of-the-art analytical equipment includes: two HPLC systems with a variety of detectors (multiple-angle light scattering, photo-diode array detector, UV and RI detectors), vapor pressure osmometer, FTIR with a TGA interface, surface area/pore size distribution analysis equipment, two fully automated GC systems, UV photo-diode array spectrometer. A cone-and-plate viscometer, high-and-low pressure viscometers, and rotating concentric cylinders couette viscometer are available to characterize the rheology of complex fluids. Various fluid flow systems are also available to study the flow of complex fluids through channels of different geometries. Research at POLYSEP is directed by Professor Yoram Cohen.

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Process Control and Design Laboratory

The Process Design and Control Laboratory is concerned with the advancement and application of novel design and control schemes. This goal is realized through the development of modeling, simulation, optimization, and synthesis techniques. The high computational requirements of these techniques are met by a network of six high speed Digital Alpha workstations available in this lab. This network, combined with three Apple Power Macintoshes, is connected to the Internet through the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). SEAS also provides further computational facilities with a network of four IBM AIX machines. Also available through the network is access to the UCLA IBM SP2 cluster (24 nodes) for investigations into parallel computation. 

Currently two areas of experimental investigation are available within the lab. One is a reverse osmosis experiment aiming at assessing the efficiency of this separation technology. The other is a plasma etching experiment for plasma reactor control studies.