The Michigan Engineer News Center

Professors Jay Guo and Zetian Mi awarded MTRAC funding for research in autonomous and green vehicles

Guo is working to boost the visibility of autonomous cars for improved safety, and Mi is building a prototype solar hydrogen production system that could out-compete electric cars. | Short Read

Professors Jay Guo and Zetian Mi have been awarded funding from the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation for their projects related to autonomous vehicles and sustainability.

EnlargeJay Guo
IMAGE:  Jay Guo

Prof. Jay Guo is developing a wide range of colors and styles that will meet the reflectivity requirements of the LiDAR and radar systems used in autonomous vehicles and those with safety-assisting features. Structural colors based on optical resonances in layered structures have received tremendous interest due to their various advantages over the traditional colorant-based pigmentations. Guo’s team’s technology is a scalable and cost-effective approach to produce layered structural colors, and making it more environmentally friendly. Moreover, structural colors can be designed to produce optical resonances at virtually any optical wavelengths. This powerful flexibility offers great advantage over other approaches for entering the potentially huge market for autonomous vehicles, and to make the vehicles and the surrounding infrastructures more “visible” to the various IR and radar sensors on board of many vehicles.

EnlargeZetian Mi portrait

Prof. Zetian Mi is developing a disruptive technology for on-site production of clean hydrogen fuels directly from sunlight and (waste)water, which, if proven commercially viable, will meet the growing demand for producing hydrogen fuels where and when needed for future transportation. Their technology is based on artificial photosynthesis, which can directly convert solar energy into hydrogen fuel through a one-step water splitting. This project will allow them to build a prototype solar hydrogen production system and to perform a thorough evaluation of the performance. It’s projected that hydrogen fuel cell-based electric vehicles will be more cost efficient than battery electric vehicles per mile by 2040, especially for vehicles with high power requirement, larger size, and longer daily driving distance.

MTRAC is a statewide program that funds projects which commercialize university research into products or services that shape the future of transportation technology or address poorly met transportation market needs. The program reinforces the State of Michigan’s Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and U-M’s commitment to use entrepreneurship as a catalyst for economic growth in the State and beyond.

Jay Guo
Zetian Mi portrait
Hayley Hanway


Hayley Hanway
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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read