Dark Energy Survey

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) uses a 570-Megapixel digital camera at the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the Chilean Andes to probe the origin of the accelerating universe. Penn scientists are among the 120 scientists from 23 institutions in the US, UK, Brazil, and Germany working on the project slated for first light in Fall 2012.


Bio-optics and bio-optical materials

Prof. Alison Sweeney and her colleagues believe that the reflective structures in giant clams help them grow algae. The clams use sub-wavelength structures formed from a protein called reflectin to optimize the photosynthesis of the algae living in the clam tissues.

Functional Imaging in the Brain

A representation of blood flow changes in a rat brain during cortical spreading depression. In the experiment, a large local concentration of KCl initiates a 'wave' of neuronal depolarization that propagates outward from a central point and then repeats itself.  The figure shows images of blood flow in four parallel planes located within 3 millimeters of the skull.



Professor Alison Sweeney studies bio-optical properties of cephalopods and the cellular and biochemical mechanisms of dynamic camouflage.


MicroRNA and Nanopores

Dr. Meni Wanunu, Prof. Marija Drndic and others at Penn have used solid state nanopores to study microRNA. Target microRNA strands (blue) from living tissue are hybridized with a probe RNA sequence (red). These RNA duplexes are then collected by magnetic beads (orange) that are coated with a p19 protein (green).  The RNA duplexes are then removed from the proteins and delivered to the nanopore.