Canadian Making Waves

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Making Desalinated Water Safer and Cheaper

Technion, Wageningen University and Wetsus scientists develop an effective and low-cost way to remove toxic boron from water in the process of desalination

Canadian born, Professor Matthew Suss

80% of drinking water in Israel is desalinated water, coming from the Mediterranean Sea. Now, scientists from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the Wageningen University, and Wetsus (European center of excellence for sustainable water) in the Netherlands have developed a way to improve the quality of desalinated water, while reducing the costs of the process. The findings of the international team’s study were published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

Amit Shocron

Desalination is the process that removes mineral particles (salts) from saltwater, making it fit for human consumption and for irrigation. The chemical properties of some particles make them more challenging to remove than others. Boron, which is naturally found in high quantities in the Mediterranean Sea, is among the hardest to remove, as change in acidity causes it to change its properties. It is toxic in high concentrations, and it harms plant growth, which is a problem in the context of irrigation. The normal process of boron removal involves dosing the water with a base in order to facilitate removing the boron, followed by removal of the base.

Process of dissolved boron removal using a capacitive deionization cell. First, the cell dissociates boric acid to charged boron ions. The boron ions are then stored in the electrodes. )Credit: Paul Gerlach, Houten, The Netherlands(

The most commonly used method of desalination is by means of a membrane – a sort of sieve that allows water to pass through it, while blocking other particles, based on their size or charge. This membrane, however, is expensive, and needs to be replaced periodically.

Eric Guyes

Ph.D. students Amit Shocron and Eric Guyes, under the supervision of  Canadian born, Professor Matthew Suss of the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, together with their collaborators from Wageningen University and Wetsus, developed a new modeling technique to predict the behavior of boron during desalination by means of capacitive deionization. This is an emerging technique for water treatment and desalination using relatively cheap porous electrodes, as opposed to the expensive membrane. When an electric current is applied, charged particles (like boron under high pH conditions) are adsorbed by the electrodes and hence removed from the water.

Schematic demonstrating boron removal by a capacitive deionization (CDI) cell. Shown is a CDI cell with an anode placed upstream and a snapshot of the developed pH profile within the anode. Right: A snapshot of ion and charge distributions in a pore near the anode/separator interface, showing boric acid dissociation and adsorption

Amit Shocron formulated the theoretical framework that allowed this breakthrough, while Eric Guyes constructed the experimental setup. Working together, they were able to develop the novel system. They found that for optimal boron removal, the positive electrode should be placed upstream of the negative electrode – counter to the accepted wisdom in their field. They also calculated the optimal applied voltage for the system, finding that higher voltage does not necessarily improve the system’s effectiveness.

This same method the group developed could be used to solve other water treatment challenges as well, for example the removal of medicine residues and herbicides, which are difficult to remove using conventional methods.

Montreal native, Prof. Suss is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the Wolfson Department of Chemical Engineering at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and is affiliated with the Nancy and Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program and Stephen and Nancy Grand Water Research Institute at Technion.

For the article in PNAS click here


Dislocations in Gold as an “Autocatalytic Template” for Nanowire Growth

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Dislocations in Gold as an “Autocatalytic Template” for Nanowire Growth

Researchers at the Technion Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering have developed an innovative method for the creation of nanowires with numerous potential applications

Professor Boaz Pokroy

Technion researchers have presented an innovative method for the formation of nanowires. In it, the nanowires form within line defects that exist in metals. Such defects are known as dislocations. This is the first time that dislocation lines in a material of one kind serve as a template for the growth of a different inorganic material in the form of nanowires. The study, which was published in PNAS, was led by Professor Boaz Pokroy and Ph.D. student Lotan Portal of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI).

Dislocations are a significant phenomenon in materials science since they affect the material’s properties on both the macro- and microscales. For example, a high dislocation density increases a metal’s strength and hardness. The

Lotan Portal

dislocation edges on metal surfaces and the atoms in their proximity tend to be more chemically activated compared to other atoms in the material and tend to facilitate various chemical reactions, such as corrosion and catalysis.

The researchers in Prof. Pokroy’s group created nanowires of gold-cyanide complex from classic Au-Ag alloy. In professional terminology, they synthesized inorganic gold(I)-cyanide (AuCN) systems in the shape of nanowires, using an autocatalytic reaction (i.e. through the acceleration of a reaction by one of its reactants). Gold-cyanide complex is used in numerous fields including ammonia gas detection (NH3 sensors), catalysis (acceleration) of water-splitting reactions, and others.

Scanning electron microscope image of a lateral section of a sample that contains a gold-cyanide nanowire created from Au-Ag (to a depth of 2 microns from the surface of the sample).

In the process developed by the researchers, nanowires crystallize at the dislocation ends on the surface of the original gold-silver (Au-Ag) alloy, and the final structure obtained is classic nanoporous (sponge-like) gold, with a layer of nanowires emerging from it. Formation of the nanowires occurs during the classic selective dealloying process that separates the silver from the system and forms the nanoporous gold and is achieved only when the dislocation density exceeds a critical value, as presented in the kinetic model developed and demonstrated in the article.

A schematic drawing depicting 1D nucleation and growth of a gold-cyanide nanowire along a dislocation in the original alloy during the classic selective dealloying process.

The model provides a possible route for growing one-dimensional inorganic complexes while controlling the growth direction, shape, and morphology of a crystal according to the original alloy’s slip system. As mentioned, this scientific and technological achievement has numerous potential applications.

The research was sponsored by a European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept Grant (“np-Gold” project) as part of the Horizon 2020 Program.

For the article in PNAS click here


Machine Learning in Cardiology

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Machine Learning in Cardiology

Technion scientists use machine learning for atrial fibrillation risk prediction

Shany Biton

Shany Biton and Sheina Gendelman, two M.Sc. students working under the supervision of Assistant Professor Joachim A. Behar, head of the Artificial Intelligence in Medicine laboratory (AIMLab.) in the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, wrote a machine learning algorithm capable of accurately predicting whether a patient will develop atrial fibrillation within 5 years. Conceptually, the researchers sought to find out whether a machine learning algorithm could capture patterns predictive of atrial fibrillation even though there was no atrial fibrillation diagnosed by a human cardiologist at the time.

Assistant Professor Joachim Behar

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that is not immediately life-threatening, but significantly increases patients’ risk of stroke and death. Warning patients that they are at risk of developing it can give them time to change their lifestyle and avoid or postpone the onset of the condition. It may also encourage regular follow-ups with the patient’s cardiologist, ensuring that if and when the condition develops, it will be identified quickly, and treatment will be started without delay. Known risk factors for atrial fibrillation include sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, genetic predisposition and more.

Sheina Gendelman

Ms. Biton and Ms. Gendelman used more than one million 12-lead ECG recordings from more than 400,000 patients to train a deep neural network to recognize patients at risk of developing atrial fibrillation within 5 years. Then, they combined the deep neural network with clinical information about the patient, including some of the known risk factors. Both the ECG recordings and the patients’ electronic health record were provided by the Telehealth Network of Minas Gerais (TNMG), a public telehealth system assisting 811 of the 853 municipalities in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The resulting machine learning model was able to correctly predict the development of atrial fibrillation risk in 60% of cases, while preserving a high specificity of 95%, meaning that only 5% of persons identified as being potentially at risk did not develop the condition.

“We do not seek to replace the human doctor – we don’t think that would be desirable,” said Prof. Behar of the results, “but we wish to put better decision support tools into the doctors’ hands. Computers are better equipped to process some forms of data. For example, examining an ECG recording today, a cardiologist would be looking for specific features which are known to be associated with a particular disease. Our model, on the other hand, can look for and identify patterns on its own, including patterns that might not be intelligible to the human eye.”

Overview of the experimental setting: digital biomarkers (HRV and MOR), deep learning features (DNN) and clinical data (EMR) are combined together in training a model to predict the future occurrence of atrial fibrillation

Doctors have progressed from taking a patient’s pulse manually, to using a statoscope, and then the ECG. Using machine learning to assist the analysis of ECG recordings could be the next step on that road.

Since ECG is a low-cost routine test, the machine learning model could easily be incorporated into clinical practice and improve healthcare management for many individuals. Access to more patients’ datasets would let the algorithm get progressively better as a risk prediction tool. The model could also be adapted to predict other cardiovascular conditions.

The study was conducted in collaboration with Antônio Ribeiro from the Uppsala University, Sweden and Gabriela Miana, Carla Moreira, Antonio Luiz Ribeiro from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The study was published in the European Heart Journal – Digital Health.


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.

6 Days Inspire 6 Decades of Support

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Nathan z”l and Anne Goldman z”l

The Goldman Family 

The dramatic events of the 6-day war in 1967 spurred the Goldman family’s deep commitment to supporting the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.  Recognizing that Israel was facing an existential threat, Nathan z”l and Anne Goldman z”l  swiftly joined community efforts to fundraise in support of the young Jewish State.  On the second night of war, a group of Toronto builders gathered at Temple Sinai to raise an unprecedented amount of funds for Israel as it was attacked by Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.

As war broke out, Anne’s maternal first cousin, Meir Sherman, was set to graduate as an engineer from Technion, a point of deep pride for the family. Meir later became the head of airplane safety and maintenance for El Al.  It was through Meir’s training at the Technion, and the influence of Meir’s parents and other family in Israel, that Nat and Anne came to recognize the Technion’s vital role in the defense of Israel, inspiring a passionate connection between the Toronto based Goldman family and the Technion – a bond that has now spanned two generations.

Nat Goldman came to Canada from the Ukraine in 1925 at the age of 4.  He grew up in Toronto and on a family farm in Whitby, and attended the University of Toronto’s Agricultural College in Guelph, where he earned both a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Agricultural Science. However, due to the anti-Semitic discrimination of the late 1940’s, Nat was unable to find proper employment in his field, and instead worked with his father to develop a successful home building business. Nonetheless, Nat’s agricultural training further reinforced his belief in the Technion’s strategic importance in building the State of Israel.  

Over the years, Nat and Anne devoted extensive time and resources in support of the Technion; both served on the Technion Canada Board, which Nat was on for over 20 years, and together they established numerous teaching fellowships and other funds.  Nat was also a lifetime member of the International Board of Governors, and in 1992 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his inspiring achievements in career, community, and philanthropy. While receiving this honour at the Technion in Israel, Nat was thrilled to share the podium with Mikhail Gorbachev, who had come to accept the Technion’s Harvey Peace Prize for his role in reducing regional tensions, and for permitting Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel.

Currently, the 4 Goldman children: Shoshana, Cal, Jeffrey, and Sandy, continue to support the Technion through the Goldman Teaching Fellowship at the Davidson Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management.  They recently honoured Nathan on what would have been his 100th birthday (March 15th, 2021) with a special gift to the Technion.

Says eldest son, Cal Goldman: “Our father was highly accomplished, but always remained humble and grateful.  He was unwavering in his commitment to Israel and the Technion was his main vehicle for support.  He recognized the Technion’s unique position as a leading institute for technology and defence, as well as for agricultural science in Israel, and never took any of that for granted. He appreciated Technion’s drive for excellence, as this was something he embraced in his own life. We are proud to mark our father’s 100th birthday by continuing our parent’s legacy of support for the Technion.”

Technion Returns to Outer Space

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Technion Returns to Outer Space
For the first time, three Israeli satellites will be launched simultaneously on March 20. The Adelis-SAMSON project from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology involves three autonomous nanosatellites that will fly in formation and monitor Earth from space

The “Adelis-SAMSON” project, an autonomous group of three nanosatellites built and developed by the Technion – Israel institute of Technology, will be launched into orbit on March 20, 2021. The project is the passion of a research team led by Professor Pini Gurfil of the Asher Space Research Institute (ASRI), and the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, with the support of the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, and the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The satellites will piggyback on a Glavkosmos Soyuz rocket from a site in Kazakhstan, and once in orbit, will be used to calculate the location of people, planes, and ships. The cluster of satellites will fly in formation in space by utilizing autonomous communication and control, without needing guidance from the ground.

The Adelis-SAMSON formation includes three miniature satellites (CubeSats), each weighing about 8 kg (17 ½ lb). Each CubeSat includes sensors, antennae, computer systems, control systems, navigation devices, and a unique and innovative propulsion system. The satellites will travel at an altitude of 550 km (341 mi) above ground and will detect signals from Earth using a mission receiver developed by IAI. The CubeSats will then transmit these signals to a mission control center located at Technion’s Asher Space Research Institute.

The nanosatellite

“Basic research over the course of many years, combined with advanced Israeli technology, allows Israel to take an important step forward in the field of nanosatellites,” explained Prof. Gurfil.

“You could compare the innovation of nanosatellites to switching from the personal computer to the cellphone. The Adelis-Samson project demonstrates a new concept in nanosatellite design and will enable many operations to be carried out that have been reserved until now for large and expensive satellites,” he continued. “This is a leap in the field of miniature satellites, in the capabilities of the Technion, and for the entire State of Israel, and one which will make the Technion a global pioneer in the fields of geolocation and satellite communication, with diverse applications including search and rescue, remote sensing, and environmental monitoring.”

“The Adelis-SAMSON project is a wonderful and exciting example of the successful integr

ation of science and technology and the transformation of innovative ideas into effective systems that contribute to humanity,” said Professor Uri Sivan, President of the Technion. “Scientific and technological breakthroughs require multidisciplinary research and close collaboration between academia and industry, and this is what has led the project to this important day.”

“The current project continues a Technion tradition that began in 1998 with the successful launch of the Gurwin-TechSat II,” added the Technion President. “That satellite has been operating in space for more than 11 years, a record time for academic activity in space. The launch of Adelis-SAMSON is a dramatic moment that we have been waiting nine years for and will follow closely. “

I sincerely thank our partners at the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israel Space Agency, and Israel Aerospace Industries for helping us make this project a reality. “

2. Engineers & researchers from the Asher Space Research Institute at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology with the nanosatellites

“For many years there has been a widespread belief that space technologies – and space itself – are the domain of leading economic powers, and are out of reach of ordinary countries,” said Mrs. Rebecca Boukhris, Trustee of Adelis Foundation. “Today there is no dispute that Israel now belongs to the exclusive club of space powers, thanks to the rapid development of the space industry in Israel. Adelis-SAMSON is a unique project that embodies the Israeli spirit, power and intellectual resources. Israel shows its strength in technology and science and puts itself firmly on the world map of aerospace, all on a modest budget and in an academic environment. The Adelis Foundation sees itself as an organization that sows the seeds of the future and we hope that this project will be the first of many, inspiring other small and brilliant projects to lead Israel’s development in space and bring recognition to the State of Israel.”

“The field of nano-satellites has been booming recently and the number of launches is increasing every year,” says Avi Blasberger, director of the Israeli Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology. “The cost of developing and launching such satellites, capable of performing a variety of uses, is significantly lower than those of regular satellites. In the near future networks are expected to appear to include thousands of nanosatellites that will cover the Earth and enable high-speed internet communication at a significantly lower cost than is currently available, as well as having many other applications such as the one demonstrated in the Adelis-SAMSON satellites.”


“We see great importance in our collaboration with the Technion to promote academic research and future technologies in the field of space,” says IAI President & CEO Boaz Levy. “IAI, Israel’s ‘National Space House’, sees high value in its connection to academia on the business and the technological levels to advance Israel’s continued innovation and leadership in the field of space. This partnership promotes the development of the entire ecosystem and IAI is proud to join forces in this innovative and groundbreaking project.” Israel’s next generation satellites resulted from exceptional collaboration between academia and industry. A special propulsion system, based on krypton gas, will be the first of its kind in the world to operate on a tiny satellite. The digital receiver and the attitude control system were developed by IAI in collaboration with Technion researchers.In addition to the propulsion system, the satellites will accumulate energy through solar panels that will be deployed next to each satellite and will serve as wings that will control, if necessary, the flight of the formation without the use of fuel, using air drag in the atmosphere. Each of the nanosatellites is fitted with a digital receiver, one of the most complex ever to fly on a nanosatellite. The system for processing the information on the satellite and the algorithms that will keep the formation flying will be among the first of their kind in the world, and will support the autonomous operation of several satellites simultaneously. The navigation system will include two GPS receivers that will be used for autonomous navigation. The communication system through which the three nanosatellites will communicate with each other as well as with the ground station will be operated at three different frequencies – a significant challenge that was resolved in the current project. A dedicated frequency will be used to transmit information to Earth through broadband. 

There are many partners in Technion’s Adelis-SAMSON project, including the Adelis Foundation, the Goldstein Foundation, the Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and IAI. From the Technion, researchers from the Asher Space Research Institute included Avner Keidar, Hovik Agalarian, Dr. Vladimir Balabanov, Eviatar Edlerman, Yaron Oz, Maxim Rubanovich, Margarita Shamis, Yulia Koneivsky, Tzachi Ezra and Dr. Alex Fried, as well as many students over the years.

Time to Care – Tackle Health Challenges and Propose Technological Solutions

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Time to Care – Students from the Technion and Cornell Tech together tackle health challenges and propose technological solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic may have created many obstacles, but it also provided opportunities for finding creative ways to overcome them. On January 14th, joint teams of students from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Cornell Tech took part in the final event of a semester-long ideation course, where they presented technological solutions for health challenges.

The course represented the first virtual version of the iTrek program, a yearly effort of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech that brings New York City-based master’s degree students to Israel to collaborate with Technion students and faculty. While COVID may have kept the Cornell Tech students at home, it did not stop them from visiting Israel virtually and working closely with colleagues in Haifa.

This year’s iTrek was organized and executed under the leadership of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, by Co-Directors Michael Escosia, Assistant Director of Operations, and Lucie Milanez, the Project Manager and Program Coordinator at Technion, and the MindState Ideation Lab. Co-founded by Tamar Many (Shenkar College, Tel Aviv University) and Henk van Assen (Yale, Parsons School of Design), MindState explores societal challenges through an interdisciplinary, human-centric methodology to achieve innovative change.  The main event, titled Time to Care, was a joint project of MindState Ideation Lab, the Technion, and Cornell Tech, with help and cooperation from the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

Academic leadership of the program was provided by Assistant Professor Joachim Behar, Director of the Technion Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Laboratory (AIMLab), Professor Ron Brachman, Director of the Jacobs Institute, and Professor Ariel Orda, the Jacobs Program Head at the Technion. Teaching assistance was provided by Sofia Segal of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at Technion. 

Twelve multi-disciplinary teams mixed with Technion and Cornell Tech students and professional designers from companies such as Wix, Lightricks, Google, Climacell, and Similar Web took part in the competition through the virtual spaces of Zoom and GatherTown. They, along with mentors from Sourasky Medical Center, tackled problems as varied as communication between patients and staff, challenges of a nurse’s daily routine, early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and even reducing food waste in hospitals.

The winner Defi aims to develop a portable defibrillator, which runs on a mobile phone’s power supply. They based their project off the fact that access and timely application of a defibrillator can save the life of a person suffering from a heart attack. The team of Ravit Abel (Nanoscience and Nanotechnology M.Sc. Candidate), Alon Gilad (Biomedical Engineering M.Eng. candidate) and Idan Shenfeld (B.Sc. in Computer Engineering, Rothschild program) from the Technion, together with Ashley Dai (Operations Research M.Eng. candidate) and Eric Chan (Double M.Sc. candidate in Applied Information Science and Information Systems) from Cornell Tech proposed a conceptual solution which would eliminate the large battery that constitutes most of the existing defibrillator’s bulk and charge it instead within seconds from any mobile phone. An accompanying app would provide instructions, automatically contact emergency services, and provide caregivers real-time information about the patient’s status. If the groups’ conceptual design would prove feasible, the defibrillator could become compact, cheap, and easy to use.

Second prize went to Minder, aimed at helping the elderly population keep track of medication and stay in touch with physicians as part of their daily routine. Third prize winner, Libi, targets patients recovering post-heart-attack by helping reduce a second incident of cardiac arrest through tracking and education.

By bringing together academics and industry leaders and mixing skills, the Ideation Competition was viewed as “an amazing experience.” Following their victory, Defi team members attributed their success to the, “opportunities [they had] to work with top professionals in the field, and to learn about the business side of creating a technological solution concept.” They added that “between us, we all come from different fields; we were able to put together our strengths, come up with different ideas, and achieve together what none of us could have achieved alone.”

Innovation, design thinking, and social impact have always been the driving force of the Jacobs iTrek program. Professor Ronni Gamzu, CEO of Sourasky Medical Center and one of the judges of the competition, concluded the final event by encouraging the teams to “keep on innovating because this is the way to advance medicine, even in the time of an epidemic and pandemic.”

The participating students are either in advanced years of their bachelor’s degrees, or in their graduate degrees. Defi was mentored by Professor Yaron Arbel, director of the Cardiovascular Research Centre at Sourasky Medical Center, and Mr. Eyal Kellner, CIO at the Sourasky Medical Center. The design team assisting them included Elad Rahmin, Oren Elbaz, and Vera Mordehayev from Climacell.

The activity was sponsored by Monday, IMed Medical Habitat, the Technion, the Jacobs Institute at Cornell Tech and the Israel Council for Higher Education. Prize awards in the total amount of $10,000 were provided by the Dr. Joseph Holt and Halaine Maccabee Rose Fund.

Concordia Technion Virtual Exchange

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Donors Ben Wygodny & Susan Raymer

The restrictions on travel this year won’t stop Rapahel Cohen, Shaked Levi, and Luis Antonio Quesada Jimenez from representing the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology at Concordia’s international Engineering and Commerce (ENGCOMM) Case Competition, which will take place virtually from February 22-27th.

The Technion students’ participation in the competition was sponsored by Susan Raymer and Ben Wygodny, through The Goldie and Joe Raymer Endowment Fund at Concordia University.  The Endowment is an exchange program between students and professors and open to all faculties, which was adapted this year due to Covid for Technion’s virtual participation in the Case Competition.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity for Technion and Concordia students to meet virtually during the Case Competition. Good luck to all!.” Susan Raymer & Ben Wygodny

The Technion students are led by mentor, Ohad Yaniv, and will join teams from around the world in a multi-disciplinary case competition which combines engineering with commerce to overcome genuine industry challenges. Cohen studies Computer Engineering, Shaked is an Aerospace Engineering student, and Jimenez studies Civil Engineering. 

The Goldie and Joe Raymer Endowment Fund at Concordia University was established in 1999 in honour of Susan’s parents, to enable students from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Concordia University to participate in an international exchange program.  Through the exchange, students are provided with rich academic opportunities which help to promote respect, understanding and collaboration amongst different cultures and backgrounds. 

Susan and Ben are Concordia graduates. Both have served on the International Board of Governors of Technion and were awarded an Honorary Fellowship in 2017. Ben served as Montreal chapter president and has continued his involvement with Technion Canada. Their interest is multigenerational as Susan’s parents were instrumental in building a student residence on campus, and their son Adam is active in the Toronto chapter.

A “Snowman” at the Edge of the Solar System

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New Horizons photograph (courtesy of NASA) of Arrokoth

A model developed at the Faculty of Physics at the Technion, in collaboration with German scientists at Tübingen, explains the unique properties of Arrokoth – the most distant object ever imaged in the solar system. The research team’s results shed new light on the formation of Kuiper Belt objects, asteroid-like objects at the edge of the Solar system, and for understanding the early stages of the solar system’s formation.

The researchers’ findings, published in the Nature, explain the unique characteristics of “the Snowman,” known formally as Arrokoth, It is the farthest imaged object in the system, and pictures of it were first taken last year by the New-Horizons space mission.

The research was led by Ph.D. student Evgeni Grishin, postdoc Dr. Uri Malamud, and their supervisor Professor Hagai Perets, in collaboration with the German research group in Tübingen.


Breakthrough in Microscale Bio-separations from IBM Research and the Technion

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Researchers: Dr. Govind Kaigala, Prof. Moran Bercovici, Vesna Bacheva, Dr. Federico Paratore

Collaborative research between IBM Research and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has led to a new method for the separation of particles and molecules from small samples, based on their diffusivity, a molecular property which correlates well with size.  The researchers are currently adapting the method for rapid and direct detection of coronavirus from throat swabs.

In a recent paper published in Angewandte Chemie and designated by the journal as a “Very Important Paper,” researchers at IBM Research Europe in Zurich and at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology presented a new method and device for separation of particles and biomolecules. 

The device makes use of virtual channels, a concept presented by the same team a year ago in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, wherein unique flow fields can be generated in a microfluidic chamber using electric field actuation.  In their latest findings, the authors used this technology to create bidirectional flows – alternating stripes carrying fluid in opposite directions.  Such a flow field is impossible tocreate using traditional pumps and valves, and when particles are introduced into this flow they behave in a well-explained yet initially non intuitive manner: small particles remain stationary, while large particles flow away quickly. 

“We know that all particles in a fluid move in random directions in a process called Brownian motion” said Vesna Bacheva, a PhD candidate in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and a co-first author of the paper. “This is the same mechanism that allows us to smell a small drop of perfume from across the room – the molecules simply make their way randomly in a process also known as diffusion.  However, small particles diffuse much faster than large ones, and when placed in the bidirectional flow they move across the opposing flow streams very quickly. This makes them move very slightly back and forth but overall – stay in place. Larger molecules or particles diffuse much slower and end up being carried away by the flow.”  The team calls their method BFF, meaning “bidirectional flow filter.”  This separation mechanism was defined by one of the paper reviewers as “a fundamentally significant contribution to the field that only comes along every 10-20 years.”

“It really is very simple,” added Dr. Federico Paratore, postdoctoral researcher at IBM Research in Zurich, who also co-first authored the paper. “Surprisingly, it hasn’t been done so far, most likely because of technological limitations. Whereas developing the concept certainly took time and iterations, with today’s microfabrication capabilities the final device is rather a simple solid-state device that can be produced on a large scale”.

In the paper the team demonstrated the separation of antibodies and particles from small molecules and provided the theory and engineering guidelines for separation of wide variety of biomolecules.   “The reason this might be very useful is because the majority of biological assays rely on a reaction between a probe and the target molecule in the sample, followed by removal of the excess probe molecules that did not find their target. This last step is often very involved and is extremely challenging when the volume of the sample is small,” said Prof. Moran Bercovici.  “Our method does this very well, provided that the two reacting elements are of sufficiently different size.”

The team is currently working to adapt the method for rapid detection of the novel Coronavirus.

Dr. Govind Kaigala explained the concept: “Fortunately, the coronavirus is fairly large – about 100 nm in diameter. This is much larger than antibodies or other probes that can be used to bind to it. Using our method we hope to be able to place a patient’s sample into our chip where it will mix with visible probes, and then see only the viruses flowing out while the unbound probes stay behind.”

This work was funded by the European Research Council (MetamorphChip) and by the BRIDGE program (project 40B1-0_191549), funded by Innosuisse and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Click here for the paper in Angewandte Chemie

Click here to video explaining the research