News Story

September 1, 2008

HUCE Associates Named Top Young Innovators Under 35

Two HUCE faculty associates have been recognized by Technology Review magazine as among the world’s top innovators under the age of 35. A panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review selected Robert Wood, assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Theodore Betley, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, from more than 300 nominees.

Wood received praise for thinking and designing on a small scale, perfecting a life-sized microrobotic fly. To bring his ersatz fly to life, Wood relied upon novel prototyping methods and laser-micromachined composite materials to craft stiff and lightweight links, articulated joints, and rigid exoskeletons and airframes. Wood’s fly is believed to be the first such biomorphic bug of its size and shape to actually take off. He envisions that some day a fleet of such flies could rapidly fan out to scout an area (for civilian or military surveillance) or be used for detection (such as to check for potential forest fires or to enhance search-and-rescue missions in hard-to-reach or dangerous places).

Betley has discovered a method of artificial photosynthesis that holds promise in the application of hydrogen fuel cells. The process involves small clusters of metals inside a molecular scaffold that split water molecules in a similar fashion to photosynthetic chloroplasts. Though Betley and his team are still searching for more efficient catalysts, his process greatly decreases the amount of energy needed to mimic photosynthesis--which could produce a practical, inexpensive, and clean source of hydrogen for fuel cells.

Wood, Betley, and the other TR35 winners for 2008 will be featured in the September issue of Technology Review magazine and honored at EmTech08 Conference to be held at MIT, September 23-25, 2008. Additional information about past and present TR35 winners and judges is available at www.technologyreview.com/tr35/. To watch a video demonstration of Wood's robotic fly, click here.

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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Email: huce@environment.harvard.edu
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