Where ideas develop and evolve.
New ways to communicate. Inspired materials that can brave extreme climates. Advances to food, medicine and robotics. All these developments came to fruition in a lab. Our students, faculty and industry associates have a large network of laboratories to draw from to advance new ideas and test old assumptions. The scope of endeavor can range from a single researcher to large teams collaborating to create advances for both society and humanity.
UCLA Samueli Research Labs
Specialized labs of, and associated with, UCLA Samueli include:
(faculty leads indicated in parentheses)
The Active Materials Laboratory (Carman) contains equipment to evaluate the coupled response of materials such as piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, shape memory alloys, and fiber optics sensors. The lab has manufacturing facilities to fabricate magnetostrictive composites and thin film shape memory alloys. Testing active material systems is performed on one of four servo-hydraulic load frames in the lab. All of the load frames are equipped with thermal chambers, solenoids, and electrical power supplies.
The Autonomous Vehicle Systems Instrumentation Laboratory (AVSIL) (Speyer) is a testbed at UCLA for the design, building, evaluation, and testing of hardware instrumentation and coordination algorithms for multiple vehicle autonomous systems. AVSIL contains a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulator designed and built at UCLA that allows for real-time, systems-level tests of two formation control computer systems in a laboratory environment, using the Interstate Electronics Corporation GPS Satellite Constellation Simulator. The UCLA flight control software can be modified to accommodate satellite system experiments using real-time software, GPS receivers, and inter-vehicle modem communication.
The Beam Control Laboratory (Gibson) involves students, faculty and post doctoral scholars to develop novel methods for control of laser beams in applications, including directed energy systems and laser communications. Algorithms developed at UCLA for adaptive and optimal control and filtering, as well as system identification, are being used in adaptive optics and beam steering. UCLA’s high bandwidth controllers correct both higher order wavefront errors and tilt jitter to levels not achievable by classical beam control methods.
The Biomechatronics Lab (Santos) is dedicated to improving quality of life by enhancing the functionality of artificial hands and their control in human-machine systems. The research is advancing the design and control of human-machine systems as well as autonomous robotic systems.
The Bionics Lab (Rosen) performs research at the interface between robotics, biological systems, and medicine. The primary research fields are medical robotics and biorobotics, including surgical robotics and wearable robotics as they apply to human motor control, neural control, human and brain machine interfaces, motor control rehabilitation (stroke), brain plasticity, haptics, virtual reality, teleoperation, and biomechanics (including full body kinematics and dynamics as well as soft/hard tissues biomechanics).
The Boiling Heat Transfer Laboratory (Dhir) performs experimental and computational studies of phase change phenomena. It is equipped with various flow loops, state-of-the-art data acquisition systems, holography, high-speed imaging systems, and a gamma densitometer.
The Cybernetic Control Laboratory (CyCLab) (Iwasaki) aims to develop biologically inspired control theories for rhythmic movements and dynamic pattern formation with applications to robotic vehicles, as well as devices for human assistance and rehabilitation.
The Energy Innovation Lab (Wirz) investigates high impact renewable energy science and technology. Current work primarily focuses on large-scale thermal energy storage for grid-scale applications and advanced wind energy capture.
The Energy & Propulsion Research Laboratory (Karagozian) involves the application of modern diagnostic methods and computational tools to the development of improved combustion, propulsion, and fluid flow systems. Research includes aspects of fluid mechanics, chemistry, optics and numerical methods, as well as thermodynamics and heat transfer.
The Flexible Research Group (Hopkins) is dedicated to the design and fabrication of flexible structures, mechanisms, and materials that achieve extraordinary capabilities. This laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art synthesis tools, optimization software, and a number of commercial and custom-developed additive fabrication technologies for fabricating complex flexible structures at macro- to nano-scales.
The Fusion Science and Technology Center (Abdou) includes experimental facilities for conducting research in fusion science and engineering, as well as multiple scientific disciplines in thermofluids, thermomechanics, heat/mass transfer, and materials interactions. The center includes experimental facilities for liquid metal magnetohydrodynamic fluid flow; thick and thin liquid metal systems exposed to intense particle and heat flux loads; and metallic and ceramic material thermomechanics.
The H-Lab (Hu) is a research group focused on understanding and engineering nanoscale transport phenomena and nanomaterials for wide applications, including energy conversion, storage, and thermal management. The lab uses a variety of experimental and theoretical techniques to investigate nanoscale transport processes, with a particular emphasis on design and chemical synthesis of advanced materials, ultrafast optical spectroscopy, pulsed electronics, and thermal spectral mapping techniques.
The Laser Spectroscopy and Gas Dynamics Laboratory (Spearrin) conducts research driven by applications in propulsion and energy, with extensions to health and environment. Lab activities are united by a core focus in experimental thermofluids and applied spectroscopy. Projects commonly span fundamental spectroscopy science to the design and deployment of prototype sensors, including the investigation of dynamic flow-fields.
The Materials Degradation Characterization Laboratory (Mal) is used for the characterization of the degradation of high strength metallic alloys and advanced composites due to corrosion and fatigue, determination of the adverse effects of materials degradation on the strength of structural components, and for research on fracture mechanics and ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation.
The Materials In Extreme Environments (MATRIX) Laboratory (Ghoniem) seeks answers to two fundamental questions: (1) What are the physical phenomena that control the mechanical properties of engineering materials operating in extreme environmental conditions? (2) Knowing such behavior, can we design engineering materials to be more resilient?
The Mechanics of Soft Materials Laboratory (Jin) investigates the fundamental physics and mechanics of soft materials, such as their constitutive relation, nonlinear deformation, instability, and fracture. The lab also strives to develop new structures and functions of soft robots and stretchable electronics.
The Mechatronics and Controls Laboratory (Tsao) focuses on servo control with applications in precision machining, engine control and nanopositioning. This lab is a key part of the interdisciplinary Systems, Dynamics and Control Center at UCLA.
The Micro-Manufacturing Laboratory (CJ Kim) is equipped with a fume hood, a clean air bench, an optical table, a DI water generator, a plating setup, a probe station, various microscopes, test and measurement systems, and CAD programs for mask layout. It is used for micromachining and MEMS research, and complements the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Nanoelectronics Laboratory.
The Modeling of Complex Thermal Systems Laboratory (Lavine) addresses a variety of systems in which heat transfer plays an important role. The thermal aspects of these systems are coupled with other physical phenomena, such as mechanical or electrical behavior. Modeling tools range from analytical to custom computer codes, or commercial software.
The Morrin-Gier-Martinelli Heat Transfer Memorial Laboratory (Pilon) is shared between Professors Catton and Pilon. It is used for investigating single and two-phase convective heat transfer in energy applications, various aspects of radiation transfer in biological systems, and for material synthesis and characterization. It is equipped with optical tables, lasers, FTIR, photomultiplicator tubes, monochromators, nanosecond pulse diodes, lock-in amplifiers, spectrophotometers, light guides, fiber optics, lenses, and polarizers. It also has various flow loops, a wind tunnel, and a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system. For material synthesis, the lab is equipped with two high temperature furnaces, a spin coater, a dip coating system, and UV curing lamps. The lab can perform optical, thermal, and electrical materials characterization using a guarded hot plate thermal conductivity analyzer, a 3-omega method system for thin film thermal conductivity, a normal-normal reflection probe, and in-house electrical system for measuring dielectric constant and the q-V curve of ferroelectric materials.
The Multiscale Thermosciences Lab (Ju) is focused on heat and mass transfer phenomena at the nano- to macro-scales. A wide variety of applications are explored, including novel materials and devices for energy conversion; combined cooling, heating, and power generation; thermal managements of electronics and buildings; energy-water nexus; and biomedical MEMS/NEMS devices.
The Nanotransport Group (Fisher) works on a broad range of problems, primarily involving transport processes by electrons, phonons, photons, and fluids. We seek to solve problems with high importance to applications in energy transport, conversion and storage that are relevant to major industrial segments (aerospace, micro/nanoelectronics, sensors). We solve these problems through a holistic, balanced approach that spans nanomaterial synthesis, basic material characterization and modeling, and functional characterization and simulation. The group includes the Center for Integrated Thermal Management of Aerospace Vehicles (CITMAV), which develops new solutions to highly transient transport problems that occur in aerospace applications.
The Plasma & Space Propulsion Lab (Wirz) investigates plasma processes related to advanced space propulsion systems using a combination of experimental, computational, and analytical perspectives. Their research is directly inspired by the rapidly emerging field of Electric Propulsion (EP). Other applications of their work include microplasmas, plasma processing, and fusion.
The Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at UCLA (Hong) is a facility for robotics research and education, with an emphasis on studying humanoid robots and novel mobile robot locomotion strategies. Research is in the area of Robot Locomotion & Manipulation, Soft Actuators, Platform Design, Kinematics and Mechanisms, and Autonomous Systems. RoMeLa is also active in research-based international robotics competitions, having won numerous prizes including the ‘DARPA Urban Challenge’ (3rd place), the international autonomous robot soccer competition ‘RoboCup’ (First Place in both the Kid-Size and Adult-Size Humanoid divisions, won the World Champions five times in a row, and brought the prestigious ‘Louis Vuitton Cup Best Humanoid Award’ to the United States for the very first time), and most recently became one of six Track A teams chosen to participate in the disaster response robot competition ‘DARPA Robotics Challenge’.
The Scifacturing Laboratory (Li) provides a creative, interdisciplinary platform for science driven manufacturing (Sci-Facturing) as the next level of manufacturing. It seeks to enable manufacturing to apply physics and chemistry to empower breakthroughs in manufacturing. This laboratory links molecular/nano/micro scale knowledge to scalable processes/systems in manufacturing and materials processing. Current focus areas include scale-up nanomanufacturing, solidification nanoprocessing of super-materials with dense nanoparticles, structurally integrated micro/nano-systems (especially sensors and actuators) for manufacturing, clean energy and biomedical manufacturing, meso/micro 3D printing, and laser materials processing.
The Structures-Computer Interaction Laboratory (Jawed) employs a data-driven approach to the modeling and design of programmable smart structures. Primary tools include collaborative robots, automation, numerical simulation, and machine learning.
The Thermochemical Energy Storage Laboratory (Lavine) is focused on the use of reversible chemical reactions for storing energy for renewable energy applications. The current focus is on ammonia synthesis for the purpose of supercritical steam generation in a concentrating solar power plant. The ammonia synthesis reactor testing platform consists of three sub-systems (dissociation, synthesis, and steam generation) that work in unison to create a closed loop synthesis gas generator which can operate for an indefinite period of time.
The Thin Films, Interfaces, Composites, Characterization Laboratory (Gupta) includes Nd:YAG laser of 1 Joule capacity with 3 ns pulse widths, a state-of-the-art optical interferometer including an ultra high-speed digitizer, a sputter deposition chamber, a 56 Kip-capacity servohydraulic biaxial test frame, and polishing and imaging equipment for microstructural characterization, which is used for measurement and control study of thin film interface strength.
UCLA and Starburst, a leading global aerospace and defense accelerator, have been awarded a 2020 Venture Challenge grant of $1.4 million by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Researchers from UCLA and China have found that catalase, a naturally occurring enzyme, holds potential as a low-cost therapeutic drug to treat COVID-19 symptoms and suppress the replication of coronavirus inside the body.
Soon after graduating from UCLA Samueli in 2014 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Matt Kurihara joined Tesla as an intern. Six years later, he’s a senior mechanical design engineer at the company’s Palo Alto office. We caught up with him and see how he’s doing.
Dr. Asad M Madni, a distinguished adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has been elected as an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (U.K.).
From CO2 to Ethylene — UCLA and Caltech Researchers Discover Effective Pathway to Convert Greenhouse Gas into Valuable Products
A research team from Caltech and the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering has demonstrated a promising way to efficiently convert carbon dioxide into ethylene.
The UCLA Engineering experience extends beyond the classroom. Getting involved in organizations, whether they are engineering-affiliated or not, is one of the best ways to maximize your time at UCLA.