Research@Mines Archive:
June, 2023

South Dakota Mines Develops Cutting-Edge High School Laboratory for NSF VITAL Prize Challenge

Dr. Prasoon Diwakar works with a laser and optics in a lab at the Frost Science Museum in Maimi, Fla. Diwakar is leading a new effort to put high-end scientific equipment like this into high school laboratories in an effort to boost STEM engagement in young people. Photo Credit: Frost Science Museum, Miami.

A team of mechanical and electrical engineering faculty at South Dakota Mines are in the running for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Visionary Interdisciplinary Teams Advancing Learning, (VITAL) Prize. The Mines team is developing a new hands-on learning program for high school students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The project will be fully NSF funded if the team continues to be successful in the coming rounds of the competitive process.


Prasoon Diwakar, Ph.D., an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Mines, is leading the effort. He joined collaborators to install a fully functional scientific lab in the Frost Science Museum and the Ransom Everglades High School, both in Maimi, Fla. These labs allow students to take on real-world science projects and problems they want to tackle in their own communities.


“We have noticed one of the key things left out of traditional STEM education is hands-on real-world experiential learning. One thing kids often ask is, ‘Why should we learn math?’ This is part of what we are tackling with our program,” says Diwakar.


Diwakar has teamed up with his spouse Neha Choudhary, who is an instructor of electrical engineering at Mines, two ed-tech entrepreneurs in Miami, Ted Caplow and Nathalie Manzano, and two K-12 educators from Ransom Everglades High S...

Last Edited 10/5/2023 02:58:44 PM [Comments (0)]

South Dakota Mines Students Help Design and Build Photon Monitoring System for DUNE

South Dakota Mines physics doctoral student Jairo Rodriguez and mechanical engineering masters student Kole Pickner test optical fibers by submerging them in liquid nitrogen to determine how well they will perform in DUNE.

Students at South Dakota Mines are leading the way in calibrating the sensors that will detect and track tiny flashes of light inside the massive Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) that will be constructed at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF).

DUNE will advance the study of the elusive ghost particle known as the neutrino. The scale of DUNE is mind boggling. It’s one part of the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF), hosted by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.  A particle accelerator at Fermilab in Illinois will shoot a neutrino beam more than 800 miles straight through the Earth to a DUNE particle detector 4,850 feet below ground at SURF. The detector is composed of seven-story-high tanks filled with liquified argon that must be kept at a temperature around 300 below zero °F. The neutrinos bombarding the tanks will occasionally hit an argon atom, causing a tiny flash of light. The nature of the light generated by these interactions will give researchers a new understanding of the mysterious neutrinos and help answer several fundamental questions about the nature of matter and the evolution of the universe.  

The DUNE collaboration includes more than 1,400 people from 200 universities and institutions across more than 30 nations. I...

Last Edited 6/29/2023 03:28:20 PM [Comments (0)]

South Dakota Mines Forges New Partnership with Peruvian University thanks to 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

Dr. David Dixon, a South Dakota Mines professor in the Karen M. Swindler Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, stands with Ryan Rowlands, director of Public Diplomacy Office in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, on an early February visit to the U.S. Chief of Mission’s Residence in Bogotá, Colombia.

South Dakota Mines and the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru, (UPC Peru) were awarded a grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to build a partnership that includes a student exchange that builds technical, intercultural and soft-skills training that are needed to improve water quality in Peru.

This program will increase student and faculty collaboration, mobility and cross-cultural skills in the U.S. and Peru. It will also hone student skills via a water sanitation project for families who lack water services in the Lima district of Villa María del Triunfo, Peru.

Fog Catcher SystemCapstone design student teams and faculty from both universities will work together virtually and in-person on implementation of a fog catcher system that collects water from the air to be used for domestic purposes, irrigation of orchards and the implementation of a waste-water treatment system to be re-used for irrigation. At Mines, multidisciplinary teams of students from chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering and other departments will be invol...

Last Edited 6/28/2023 08:17:15 PM [Comments (0)]

Corn Stalks in Space: NASA Next-Gen Battery Breakthrough Fueled by Multidisciplinary Collaboration at South Dakota Mines

Weibing Xing, (second from left) and his research team (from left to right: Gulam Smdani, Weibing Xing, Haiden Studer, Wahid Hasan, Amir Razzaq, Chris Poches and Salman Khan Mithil) in a next-generation battery research laboratory at South Dakota Mines.

South Dakota Mines has received a new $750,000 NASA EPSCoR grant to fund research into the next generation of lithium-sulfur batteries for use in space technology. The grant comes following a breakthrough on campus into a new polymer-biocarbon cathode coating made from corn stalk residues that stabilizes next-generation battery chemistry to nearly double the charging capacity of current technology.

A press release from NASA on this research states, “Improving the power capacity and life of batteries could help NASA power rockets, spacecraft, and habitats on the Moon, and eventually, Mars.”

Shende research team 2023The breakthrough began with the work of Rajesh Shende, Ph.D., on finding new uses for biorefinery waste leftover from the bioproc...

Last Edited 6/28/2023 08:04:52 PM [Comments (0)]

South Dakota Mines Leverages Advanced Mining Technologies to National Science Foundation Engines Grant

This Trolley Assist Haul Truck system is one example of technologies used in the mining industry that will facilitate the transition to autonomous battery electric vehicles. South Dakota Mines is leading advances in this kind of technology alongside industry partners within the university’s Mining Hub. This effort is furthered by the new NSF Engines program.


South Dakota Mines is partnering with five regional universities thanks to a $1 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation's Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program.


Mines is among more than 44 teams nationwide to receive one of the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aims to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal and technological opportunities for their regions. The regional collaboration includes Mines, the University of North Dakota, the Tribal Nations Research Group, Montana State University and MiTech and Boise State University. The project brings together leaders in autonomous systems in these states.


The Department of Mining Engineering and Management at Mines brings an expertise in cutting edge mining technology to the project. South Dakota Mines is also home to the Mining Hub, which includes diverse partners to work in convergent research areas that include technology development and implementation, digitalization, human factors, and many other areas to support sustainable recovery of the Earth’s resources, to ensure a stable national supply of materials, and to support the nation’s needs — including critical minerals vital to the transition to a new greener economy.



Last Edited 9/14/2023 08:46:09 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Physicist Assists in Nanotech Computer Memory Material Breakthrough

Dr. Tula Paudel (left), who assisted in the creation of a ultra-thin memristor that could change how computer memory is stored, stands with his graduate students, Paul White, Bhubnesh Lama, and Khimananda Acharya.

Tula R. Paudel, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics at South Dakota Mines is among the researchers who helped discover new active materials for computer memory. The discovery could lead to increased memory storage in a smaller space at increased computer speeds.

Paudel and the team are working with multiferroic materials that can be electrically and magnetically polarized. Magnets inside a compass are one example of material that can be magnetically polarized; one side of the magnet will always point toward the magnetic north pole. In the 1920s, researchers found that certain materials can change their polarization when an electric current is applied. These materials are called ferroelectric. Both electrical and magnetic polarization co-exists in multiferroic materials.

Ferroelectric materials like magnets contain polarized regions called domains separated by thin walls. An electric field can switch the polarization of these regions and, like a switch, record a direction as one or a zero.

In recent years researchers have begun to study ferroelectricity on smaller and smaller scales. This has led to a focus on the thin boundaries, or domain walls, that separate domains. Paudel and his team found that when they applied electric current to a very thin layer of a ferroelectric Bismuth ferrite, they could move these walls.

The team showed that unlike a RAM on a magnetic disk, which needs continued zaps ...

Last Edited 8/16/2023 06:43:13 PM [Comments (0)]

Learning the Lessons of Yellowstone Flooding: University Researchers Scramble and Capture Data

A Mines graduate student researcher, Calvin Tohm, helps survey damage following June 2022 floods in the Yellowstone area.

On the night of June 12, 2022, a storm system began dumping rain on the Beartooth Range of northern Wyoming and southern Montana. Over the next 24 hours, about four inches fell on the still snow-covered peaks of the northern Rockies. The rain-on-snow effect drove a rapid loss of mountain snowpack. Because of this, streams and rivers quickly swelled out of their banks, and quiet mountain towns were slammed with flash floodwaters. Bridges, roads and homes in and around Yellowstone National Park were swept away in the torrent, isolating communities and stranding tourists.

Teams of first responders were mobilized in the hours and days after the disaster. Among them was a specialized group of scientists who study civil infrastructure. “Our group of students and researchers were loaded with scientific equipment and on the road in 24-hours after receiving the call to help assess and map flood damage,” says Bret Lingwall, Ph.D., who is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at South Dakota Mines.

Lingwall is one member of the National Science Foundation’s Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) effort. This organization includes teams of scientists across the country who spring to action in the wake of disasters to collect perishable post-disaster data. Their goal is to capture critical data on infrastructure and disast...

Last Edited 6/28/2023 07:52:32 PM [Comments (0)]

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