Chemists build supramolecules to convert solar energy
Tech wireless device eliminates communication snafus

Chemists build supramolecules to convert solar energy

Virginia Tech chemistry professor Karen Brewer and colleagues are building metal-based molecules that, in the future, may be used for creating high-energy fuels from common elements that make up air and water.

Brewer's supramolecules will be producing systems that will bind to organic elements. A supramolecule is composed of subunits designed to perform single tasks, but each supramolecule is still a single molecule engineered to act as a complex system.

Brewer and her students have designed supramolecules that perform their designed function as a result of interaction with light. When subunits of the system absorb photons of light, the system is triggered to collect electrons. This allows the light energy to be converted into electrical energy.

Brewer is working with graduate students Sumner Jones, Elizabeth Bullock, and Jeff Clark. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation.

For more information, you may contact Brewer at

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Tech wireless device eliminates communication snafus

Virginia Tech electrical engineers are developing the first low power, high data-rate wireless communication device that uses a computerized radio to communicate with a variety of different radio systems.

Cellular phone users are finding that their systems won't work in many parts of the nation because deregulation of the telecommunications industry has allowed many incompatible cellular systems to exist. The Changeable Advanced Radio for Inter-Operable Telecommunications (CHARIOT) that the Tech team is developing will automatically adapt wireless devices to different standards, using software developed by Tech professor Peter Athanas.

"Just as cordless phones can change channels without the user noticing, the CHARIOT will program itself to become the appropriate radio," says Jeffrey Reed, principal investigator for the project and associate director of Virginia Tech's Mobile and Portable Radio Research Group.

The three-year Global Mobile Communications project (GloMo2) is being sponsored by the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency with a grant of more than $1.8 million.

The U.S. military is wrestling with the problem of communicating with a variety of incompatible radios. The Army, Navy, and Air Force each have their own types of radios, and military forces overseas have radios that are incompatible with the U.S. military.

Reed can be reached at reedjh@vtaix.

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