Hydrogen On the Way

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Hydrogen On the Way
Researchers in the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion have developed a new system for producing hydrogen from water with a low energy investment and using available and inexpensive materials

Water electrolysis is an easy way to produce hydrogen gas. While hydrogen is considered a clean and renewable fuel, efficient electrolysis today requires high electric potential, high pH and in most cases, catalysts based on ruthenium and other expensive metals. Due to the inherent promise of hydrogen, many research groups are striving to develop electrolysis technologies that will make it possible to produce hydrogen fuel at a low electric potential, at a pH between 7-9 and with catalysts based on available and inexpensive metals such as copper, manganese, and cobalt.

Professor Galia Maayan

The Journal of the American Chemical Society  recently reported on a unique solution for this issue developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. It is the fastest system of its kind reported so far that operates with available metal (copper) catalysts. The research was led by Professor Galia Maayan, head of the Biomimetic Chemistry Laboratory in the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry, and doctoral student Guilin Ruan.

The Technion researchers designed and developed a homogeneous electrolysis system, or in other words, a system in which the catalyst is soluble in water, so that all components of the system are in the same medium. The innovative and original system is based on (1) copper ions; (2) a peptide-like oligomer (small molecule) that binds the copper and maintains its stability; and (3) a compound called borate whose function is to maintain the pH in a limited range. The main discovery in this study is the unique mechanism that the researchers discovered and demonstrated: the borate compound helps stabilize the metallic center and participates in the process so that it helps catalyze it.

Doctoral student Guilin Ruan

In previous studies, the research group demonstrated the efficacy of using peptide-like oligomers to stabilize metal ions exposed to oxygen – exposure that may oxidize them in the absence of the oligomer and break down the catalyst. Now, the researchers are reporting on the success in creating a very efficient and fast electrolysis system. The stable system oxidizes the water into hydrogen and oxygen under the same desired conditions: low electric potential, pH close to 9 and inexpensive catalysts. According to Prof. Maayan, the system was inspired by enzymes (biological catalysts) that use the protein’s peptide chain to stabilize the metallic center and by natural energetic processes such as photosynthesis, which are driven by units that use solar energy to transport electrons and protons.

Copper complex, consisting of two molecules of a peptide-like oligomer that binds two copper ions, reacts under electrolysis conditions with a molecule of the borate compound; the product of the reaction is the catalyst that allows the water to oxidize and create oxygen and hydrogen efficiently and quickly.

The research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) and the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program.

Click here for the paper in The Journal of the American Chemical Society

Most Innovative Student Projects in Biomedical Engineering

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From fighting COVID-19 to detecting heart disease, these are some of the Technion’s most innovative student projects in biomedical engineering

From detecting cardiovascular disease, to fighting coronavirus, Faculty of Biomedical Engineering students recently presented an array of innovative projects that integrated everything they had learned.
During project development, the students had to go through all the stages needed to bring an idea to fruition. Starting with a medical problem which they had to tackle, they had to combine and implement medical know-how with engineering skills and scientific knowledge in order to provide a real-world solution. This hands-on experience exposes and prepares Technion graduates to the high-tech and biomed industries, and to biomedical research in a way that encourages multidisciplinary work. Therefore, such projects are vital for their future career and entrepreneurial skills.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the most intriguing (and often lifesaving) student projects in biomedical engineering.

 

Early detection of cardiovascular disease  – Sivan Barash and Shachar Zigron took first place in the student project competition, presenting a novel way of labelling macrophage cells, making them detectable by MRI. Macrophages are cells involved in the detection and destruction of bacteria. Cardiovascular disease is strongly associated in the public mind with fat storage in the body, but recent studies have shown significant involvement of inflammation in the process. Since macrophage cells have a major role in inflammation, being able to observe their movement within the body would facilitate scientists’ exploration of the connection between inflammation and cardiovascular disease. The duo’s project has lain the groundwork for in-vivo studies soon to be conducted in the laboratory of Prof. Katrien Vandoorne.

AI-based decision support machine for fetal monitoring  – Second place went to Amit Parizat and Rotem Shapira, who created an artificial intelligence (AI) system to analyze the output of the fetal monitor during labor and serve as a decision support machine. Complications during labor develop rapidly and can harm mother and child. The fetal monitor alerts healthcare providers of complications during labor. However, analyzing the monitor’s long signals manually is challenging and leads to obstetrics teams recommending a Caesarean “just in case” at the slightest indication, to the point that currently a third of all births in the U.S. involve a C-section, and only 20% of
C-sections are later found to have been necessary. C-sections carry risks to the mother and involve a long recovery and long-term side effects. Amit and Rotem proved the feasibility of training an AI machine to predict complications during childbirth, preventing unnecessary invasive intervention, while ensuring that intervention is performed when needed. To achieve this, the two worked with the Obstetrics and Newborn Medicine Division at the Carmel Medical Center.

Treating cancer  – Orel Shahadi and Or Levy, coming in third, developed a 3D model that simulates drug penetration into solid tumors, facilitating development of new drugs and drug combinations to treat cancer. Their innovative model features an inner cluster of cells engineered to display fluorescence, surrounded by an outer layer of cells. Change in the cells’ fluorescence served as an indicator, providing a way to measure drug penetration into the tumor with a high level of precision.

Detecting heart rhythm problems   – Yonathan Belicha and Daniel Cherniavsky, who took fourth place, explored a novel approach to diagnosing cardiac arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems), using nothing more than a few 1-minute videos of the patient – the kind of videos one might make using one’s smartphone. The natural contraction and relaxation of the heart cause minute changes in the human skin color. Yonathan and Daniel extracted those very small changes from the video, and from them – the subject’s pulse. Using this, they trained an AI system to recognize cardiac arrhythmia.

Fighting coronavirus with… ultrasound – Finally, Mor Ventura, Dekel Brav and Omri Magen, coming in fifth, tackled one of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 epidemic. Classification of the COVID-19 severity degree is usually done in hospitals using CT. However, CT machines’ availability is strained, they are expensive, and the process is further complicated by the need to transfer a patient with a highly contagious disease to and from the machine. Mor and Omri explored the possibility of using lung ultrasound instead, obtaining the necessary diagnostic information faster and more easily at the patient’s bedside, also significantly reducing the workload in healthcare facilities. To this end, they first developed an image-processing algorithm to “read” and label lung ultrasounds, identifying areas of interest and ignoring artefacts. Using the results of this algorithm, the trio then trained a neural network to classify the ultrasound videos and identify the severity of the patient’s illness. The project was conducted in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

Award-winning FemTech startup – Asaf Licht and Zeinat Awwad presented the entrepreneurship project. Just finishing their bachelor’s degree, the two have already turned their project into a startup called Harmony. Their project is a FemTech initiative, developing a wearable, continuous, and non-invasive tracker to monitor women’s hormonal levels, aiming to ease the process of IVF, but also relevant for avoiding pregnancy, or alternatively for increasing the chances of getting pregnant. Currently, IVF procedures requires a blood test multiple times a week; Harmony seeks to replace that with an at-home device that provides continuous measurements while reducing discomfort. This project won first place in the EuroTech Innovation Day startup competition.

To read about additional student projects recently presented at the Technion, click here

Could New Findings Explain Age-old Mystery, and Improve Use of Hematite to Split H2O Via Solar Energy?

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Could New Findings Explain Age-old Mystery, and Improve Use of Hematite to Split H2O Via Solar Energy?

(L-R) Yifat Piekner, Dr. Daniel Grave, Prof. Avner Rothschild, Dr. David Ellis

Energy & Environmental Science has reported a scientific breakthrough in the study of hematite, an important and promising material in the conversion of solar energy into hydrogen through photoelectrochemical water splitting. The research project was headed by Professor Avner Rothschild of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Yifat Piekner, a doctoral student in the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP).

The importance of solar energy to our lives is obvious. The sun transmits energy to Earth continuously, and if we are able to harness it for our needs, use of fossil fuels and pollutants such as petroleum and gas will no longer be necessary. The main challenge in switching to solar energy lies in the varying availability of sunlight as the day progresses and seasons change. Every place on earth experiences sunlight for a limited period during the day, but naturally, there is no sunlight at night. Since the electrical grid needs a stable power at all hours of the day and night, use of solar energy depends on our ability to store it so that we are able to use it at night and on overcast days. The problem is that the known form of electrical energy storage – batteries – is inapplicable when it comes to the supply of electricity for a city, a neighborhood, manufacturing site, etc. Moreover, the energy stored in batteries is adequate for a few hours, but batteries cannot provide a solution for long-term storage between seasons.

 

(L-R) Dr. David Ellis, Dr. Daniel Grave, Yifat Piekner

A possible solution to the storage problem is to convert solar energy into hydrogen using photoelectrochemical solar cells. These cells are similar to photovoltaic cells, which convert solar energy into electricity, but instead of producing electricity, they produce hydrogen using the electric power (current ´ voltage) generated in them. The power is used for photoelectrochemical water splitting – the use of sunlight energy to directly dissociate water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

 

Dr. Daniel Grave

The advantage of hydrogen over electricity lies in the fact that it easy to store and can be used when needed to generate electricity or for other requirements, such as to power FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles). In such cases, the fuel cell replaces the heavy, expensive batteries in Tesla cars and similar vehicles, and could also be used for residential and industrial heating, and the production of ammonia and other raw materials. The advantage of hydrogen as fuel is that its production and consumption do not involve greenhouse gas emissions, or any other emissions, other than oxygen and water.

 

Prof. Avner Rothschild

One of the main challenges in photoelectrochemical cells is the development of efficient and stable photoelectrodes in a base or acid electrolyte, which is the chemical environment in which water can be efficiently split into hydrogen and oxygen. The photoelectrodes absorb the photons emitted by the sun, and use their energy to generate electronic charge carriers (electrons and holes, or missing electrons) that produce hydrogen and oxygen, respectively. Silicon, which is the semiconductor material used in photovoltaic cells, cannot serve as a photoelectrode of this kind, since it is unstable in an electrolyte.

 

Dr. David Ellis

This is the backdrop against which photoelectrochemical cells based on hematite photoelectrodes were developed. Hematite is an iron oxide that has a similar chemical composition to rust. Hematite is inexpensive, stable and nontoxic, and has properties that are suitable for water splitting. However, hematite also has its disadvantages, one of which is the gap between its theoretical energy yield and the yield achieved in practice in actual devices. For reasons that have not been clarified to date despite decades of research, the photon-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency in hematite-based devices is not even half of the theoretical limit for this material. By comparison, the conversion efficiency of photons in silicon solar cells is very close to the theoretical limit. In the present research, which extends and augments the findings recently published in Nature Materials, the research team headed by Prof. Rothschild puts forth an explanation for the mystery. It transpires that the photons absorbed by hematite produce localized electronic transitions that are “chained” to a specific atomic location in the hematite crystal, thus rendering them incapable of generating the electric current used for water splitting, i.e. the separation of water into its elements, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Yifat Piekner

And now for the good news: Using a new analysis method developed by Yifat Piekner with the help of her research colleagues, Dr. David Ellis of the Technion and Dr. Daniel Grave, senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the following data were measured for the first time:

  • Quantum efficiency in the generation of mobile (productive) and localized (nonproductive) electronic transitions in a material as a result of photon absorption at different wavelengths
  • Electron-hole separation efficiency
Photon activity in a 32 nanometers thick hematite layer. Only the photons in green contribute to hydrogen generation; The photons represented in the other colors do not contribute to the process, as a result of various optical and physical processes that prevent the formation of mobile charges that contribute to the photocurrent.

This is the first time that these two properties (the first, optical in nature and the second, electrical) have been measured separately, whereas previous studies measured the combined effect of both properties together. Their separation allows for deeper understanding of the factors that influence the energy efficiency of materials for the conversion of solar energy into hydrogen or electricity.

Besides the achievement in terms of practical application, this is a scientific breakthrough that paves a new way for research into light-matter interaction in correlated electron materials.

The research study was sponsored by the Israel Science Foundation’s research center for photocatalysts and photoelectrodes for hydrogen production in the Petroleum Alternatives for Transportation Program, the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP) and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI) at the Technion.

Click here for the paper in Energy & Environmental Science

 

Technion among world’s top 100 universities

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Technion among world’s top 100 universities

The Shanghai Ranking, which ranks the world’s leading academic institutions, places Technion 94th in the world

Haifa, Israel – August 16, 2021 – The Technion is 94th on a list of the world’s top 100 universities, according to a report published yesterday by Shanghai Ranking, the world’s leading index for higher education. The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is also on the top 50 list in two fields: aerospace engineering (16th place) and automation & control (46th place). In chemistry, the Technion ranks among the top 50-75 universities in the world. The Technion has consistently made the top 100 list of the Shanghai Ranking since 2012 (with one exception in 2020).

“The Technion is one of the world’s leading universities, and we will continue to invest efforts and resources to maintain this position for years to come,” said Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan. “The Technion’s strength lies in its excellent human capital, which leads to numerous achievements and breakthroughs in research and teaching. This is the result of hard work and dedication by Technion faculty, deans, administrative staff, and management.”

Prof. Sivan added that the Technion’s listing on the Shanghai Ranking and other indices “is not a purpose on its own. Global academic competition is rapidly intensifying, and while many governments around the world are steadily increasing their investments in academia and research, Israeli universities rely almost entirely on donations, which are becoming increasingly difficult to get.”

According to Prof. Sivan, “in order for Israel to preserve its standing at the forefront of global research, and to ensure the nation’s security, as well as its academic and economic future, the government should significantly increase investment in research and teaching, as well as adopt a welcoming stance toward the absorption of foreign faculty and students.”

While Prof. Sivan is “pleased that the Technion is among the three Israeli academic institutions on the top 100 list, we must remember that without government support and globalization of our research institutions, it will be harder for us to maintain this position.”

The Shanghai Ranking, first published in 2003, categorizes academic institutions according to objective criteria, such as the number of Nobel Prize laureates and other prestigious awards; the number of scientific articles published in the leading journals Nature and Science; the number of times scientific articles published by university researchers have been quoted; and researchers who’ve been frequently quoted in academic journals, relative to their peers in the field.

The index looks at 1,800 universities, from which the top 1000 are selected. Leading the list are Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Cambridge, MIT and UC Berkeley.

Letter from Uri Sivan, President Technion – Israel Institute ofTechnology Click Here

For the full ranking, click here.

Fast Charging of Lithium-Ion Batteries

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Fast Charging of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Fast charging is considered to be a key requirement for widespread economic success of electric vehicles. Current lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) offer high energy density, but while they enable sufficient driving range, they take considerably longer to recharge than traditional vehicles. Multiple properties of the applied anode, cathode, and electrolyte materials influence the fast-charging ability of a battery cell.

In a review published this month in the high impact Journal Advanced Energy Materials, an international team of researchers considers in detail the physicochemical basics of different material combinations, and identify the transport of lithium inside the electrodes as the crucial rate-limiting steps for fast-charging. The group* headed by Professor Yair Ein-Eli and graduate student Ms. Natasha Ronit Levy from the Technion Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Professor Jürgen Janek and Dr. Manuel Weiss from Giessen University (Institute of Chemical Physics, Germany), identified that lithium-ion diffusion and migration within the active materials inherently slows down the charging process and impose high resistivity.

In addition, concentration polarization by a slow lithium-ion transport within the electrolyte phase in the porous electrodes also limits the charging rate. Both kinetic effects are responsible for lithium plating observed on the graphite anodes. Such plating of metallic lithium may lead to a dangerous thermal runaway, resulting in explosion and fire. The conclusions drawn by the researchers from potential and concentration profiles within LIB cells are complemented by extensive literature surveys on anode, cathode, and electrolyte materials. They analyzed advantages and disadvantages of typical LIB materials and offered suggestions for optimum properties on the material and electrode level for fast-charging applications.

Professor Yair Ein-Eli
Ronit Natasha Levy

* The research groups that took part in the review work were part of the 4th German-Israel Batteries School held in Berlin in 2019: from Israel – Prof. Yair Ein-Eli [Technion] and Prof. Doron Aurbach [Bar-Ilan University]; From Germany – Prof. Jürgen Janek [Giessen University], Prof. Martin Winter [Münster University], and Prof. Margaret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens [Energy Research Center, Ulm]. Financial support was provided by the following entities and foundations: the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) within GIBS 4 bi-national workshop, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Planning & Budgeting Committee/Israel Council for Higher Education (CHE), and Fuel Choice Initiative (Prime Minister Office) within the framework of “Israel National Research Center for Electrochemical Propulsion” (INREP 2) and by the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP).

Click here for the paper in Advanced Energy Materials

Technion Ranked #1 Europe in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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Technion Ranked #1 Europe in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Over the years, the Technion has established itself as a leading academic institution in AI. It is currently ranked 15th in the world, with 100 faculty members engaged in areas across the AI spectrum.

 

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Digital Brochure – AI – 22 July 2021_SMALL

 

The Technion’s efforts to advance the field of artificial intelligence have positioned it among the world’s leaders in AI research and development. CSRankings, the leading metrics-based ranking of top computer science institutions around the world, has ranked the Technion #1 in the field of artificial intelligence in Europe (and of course, in Israel), and 15th worldwide. In the subfield of machine learning, the Technion is ranked 11th worldwide. The data used to compile the rankings is from 2016 to 2021.

One of the innovations that is part of the framework of the Technion’s AI prowess is the Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems (MLIS) research center, which aggregates all AI-related activities.

Professor Shie Mannor

Today, 46 Technion researchers are engaged in core AI research areas, and more than 100 researchers are in AI-related fields: health and medicine, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, industrial robotics, cybersecurity, natural language processing, FinTech, human-machine interaction, and others. Two leading AI researchers co-direct MLIS: Professor Shie Mannor of the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor Assaf Schuster of the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science.

According to Prof. Mannor, “for years the Technion has maintained its position as the leading research institute in Israel and Europe in core AI areas. The Technion has a unique ecosystem that includes tens of researchers from various faculties, research centers, and a number of undergraduate and graduate programs in the field.”

Professor Assaf Schuster

“All fields of science, technology, and engineering at the Technion have been upgraded in recent years, applying Technion knowledge in AI fields,” said Prof. Schuster, “Most include components based on information processing and machine learning. Furthermore, the Technion views the dissemination of its acquired knowledge as a mission of national importance for commercial sector. In that regard, the Technion operates in close cooperation with the technology sector in Northern Israel and within its partnership with the prestigious EuroTech Universities Alliance. These partnerships in Israel and worldwide link AI research at the Technion to the vanguard of activity in this field.”

The MLIS center strives toward four main goals: (1) establishing the Technion as a top-5 university in the field of AI worldwide; (2) pooling resources, recruiting researchers, and students from all Technion departments to advance and conduct joint research in the field; (3) connecting Technion researchers with relevant parties in the industry, especially technology companies and other organizations that generate Big Data; (4) Establishing close research collaboration with other prominent research institutes in the AI field in Israel and worldwide.

In May 2021, the Technion entered a long-term collaboration with American software giant PTC, under which the company will transfer its Haifa research campus to the Technion, to advance joint research in AI and manufacturing technology. PTC joins several other organizations that collaborate with the Technion in these fields, among them the technological universities of Lausanne (Switzerland), Eindhoven (Netherlands), Munich (Germany), and the Paris Polytechnique (France) in Europe, as well as Cornell Tech, home of the Jacobs Technion-Corrnell Institute, Waterloo University, and Carnegie Mellon University, which operates the largest center for AI and robotics in the United States.

 

11 Years of Autonomous Driving

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11 Years of Autonomous Driving

The Technion held the final stage of the Nadav Shoham Robotraffic Competition. This year’s competition was held in a virtual format with the participation of hundreds of high school students from 10 countries

The Technion held the final round of the 11th Nadav Shoham Robotraffic competition. Hundreds of high school students from 10 different countries took part this year in a virtual format, and the final stage concluded five consecutive days of competition.

This year, the participating schools received instructions in advance, and each of them showcased their model car in a live, online performance. The main advantage of the virtual format was the number of schools it enabled to participate and their diverse geographical distribution; some schools were participating for the first time in such a competition. In total, this year’s competition included about 50 teams, including 12 from Russia, 6 from China, and teams from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan, the USA, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Israel.

The competition had five categories, two of which were shown live during the week. The team that won first place in the Careful Driving Category received a scholarship for a full year’s tuition at the Technion.  Additional prizes for the winners of the competition were donated by Nvidia.  

Technion Senior Executive Vice President, Professor Oded Rabinovitch, told the students that “robots have become an integral part of our lives in recent years and we all encounter them in school, at work and in our leisure time. Their presence will only increase in the years to come, and the current competition gives you a taste of the diverse and unique world of robotics and an understanding of the importance of the mathematical and scientific fundamentals in solving engineering challenges. If you understand this, you have won, no matter the results of the competition.”

The competition was led by the Head of the Leumi Robotics Center Professor Moshe Shoham, together with the Director of the Center Dr. Evgeny Korchnoy. Over the past year, Technion International also become involved through the International School of Engineering.

“The past year has emphasized the necessity of autonomous robots in protecting medical teams, the brave fighters at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, but also in many other contexts,” said Prof. Shoham. “We are happy to hold this competition every year, bringing high school students closer to the world of robotics and allowing them to experience some of the enormous potential inherent in this field.”

“Organizing this year’s competition obliged everyone to put in a lot of effort due to time differences and of course because of the pandemic and lockdowns, which made it difficult to prepare in groups,” added Dr. Korchnoy. “We are pleased to note that the proportion of female students in the competition is growing, and we have a few groups of female-only students. “

The Robotraffic Competition, which was held for the first time in January 2010, is intended to foster interest in science and technology by developing autonomous vehicles able to drive in an urban environment according to traffic laws. In preparation for the competition, the students learned about robotics, driving laws and road safety rules, and acquired “real world” skills, including leadership, initiative, and teamwork. The competition is a joint project of the Leumi Robotics Center at the Technion, World ORT – Kadima Mada, and the World Zionist Organization in collaboration with YTEK, Nvidia and IBS, and supported by Bank Leumi.

Winners of the competitions are as below:

Category A: Careful Driving

  1. “Career Planning Center” Tomsk (Team-2) Russia
  2. “Career Planning Center” Tomsk (Team-1) Russia
  3. ORT Argentina (Team-2)

Category B: Racing

  1. Hlukhiv Centre of Extra Education, Ukraine
  2. ORT Argentina (Team-2)
  3. Kansk College of Technology, Russia

Category C: Reverse Parking

  1. Kansk College of Technology, Russia
  2. ORT Specialized School #41, Chernivtsi, Ukraine
  3. Hlukhiv Centre of Extra Education, Ukraine

Category D: Traffic Safety Initiatives

  1. ORT Kiev NVK-141, Ukraine
  2. Frankel Jewish Academy, Detroit, USA and Hlukhiv Center of Extra Education, Ukraine
  3. ORT Argentina

Category E: Learning car structure with 3D CAD

  1. ORT Specialized School #41, Chernivtsi, Ukraine
  2. Hlukhiv Centre of Extra Education, Ukraine
  3. ORT “Alef”Jewish Gymnasium, Zaporozhye, Ukraine

 

Award: Striving for Excellence in Robotics Studies  1.  Suzhou No.10 High School of Jiangsu Province, China2.  Taicang Walton Foreign Language School, China3.  Mingde Senior High School, China4.  ORT Tekhiya School 1311, Moscow, Russia5.  Centro Paula Souza, São Paulo, Brazil6.  ORT Mexico7.  Peterson School, Mexico8.  Le Hong Phong High School for the Gifted, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam9.  Taipei Private Tsai Hsing High School, Taiwan10.Misgav High School, Israel NVIDIA Prize“Career Planning Center”, Tomsk (Team1 and Team 2), Russia

 

For a video of the Robotraffic Competition,click here

Rapid COVID Tests on Campus

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Technion President Professor Uri Sivan and Professor Naama Geva-Zatorsky

First in Israel – a COVID-19 test developed at Technion offers rapid testing on campus to prevent chains of infection

While Israel undergoes a mass vaccination program, the ongoing window of risk is being closed at Technion through an innovative system of rapid testing for COVID-19. The Technion announced the extensive testing operation as a fundamental protective measure for dormitory residents. The “NaorCov19” test being used in Haifa was developed in April 2020 by Professor Naama Geva-Zatorsky of the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.

“To protect the health of campus visitors and residents, to lead as normal a lifestyle as possible, and to return to routine life during the pandemic, it is necessary to break the chain of infection rapidly, through effective monitoring and diagnosis,” said Technion President, Professor Uri Sivan. “Living alongside COVID-19 is an enormous challenge for all the population, and I hope and believe the rapid implementation of the novel technologies developed by Technion researchers will assist us in arresting the spread of the virus, and that it will serve as a model for other places across the country.”

The technology has been commercialized by the Technion for further development by Rapid Diagnostic Systems ltd., which is developing the molecular diagnostic platform under the name “Naor.” (www.naordia.com). The technology had been field tested and developed in collaboration with multiple institutions and researchers including MAFAT (the R&D arm of the Israeli Ministry of Defence) and the Rambam Health Care Campus.

The NaorCov19 test rapidly detects the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is based on a saliva sample and a short isothermal process that can be done on-premises. The process takes less than an hour if done on site, and dozens or even hundreds of samples can be processed simultaneously. Technion students and staff leave saliva samples at stations around campus and use their phones to record it. They are then electronically notified about the results within a few hours of the sample collection. The Technion community members are encouraged to be tested at least once a week, in order to reduce the risk of campus infection.

Thanks to its simplicity, the NaorCov19 is suitable for rapid testing on campuses and schools, at workplaces, airports and even onboard airplanes. It is also scheduled for self-testing at home.
The on-campus Naor tests are being performed as part of a study that has received the approval of the local institutional review board (IRB).

At the start of the 2020-21 academic year, the Technion administration announced the “Creating an Open and Safe Campus” initiative, which offers multi-layered protection of campus visitors.

The First Layer is strict adherence to the “purple badge” rules: wearing a mask, hygiene, and social distancing.

The Second Layer involves the monitoring of the campus sewage system using novel technology developed at Technion by Professor Eran Friedler of the Department of Environmental and Water Engineering. Sewage testing supports the monitoring of a large population, effectively and rapidly locating cases without the need to reach each individual. It has already effectively disrupted potential chains of coronavirus infection.

The soon to be implemented Third Layer is the Technion-developed “NaorCov19” test. This individual, rapid, and non-invasive system will help track and diagnose cases on campus.

The Fourth Layer involves regular PCR tests for those who have relevant symptoms or who test positive on the “NaorCov19” test. Since the “NaorCov19” test is still waiting for the approval of Israel’s Ministry of Health, persons who test positive go on to take a regular PCR test for confirmation.

The “Creating an Open and Safe Campus” project is led by Executive Vice President for Research Professor Koby Rubinstein, Professor Avigdor Gal of the Faculty of Industrial Engineering & Management and Professor Danny Raz of the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science.