Alternative fuel

UVA physicists Bellave Shivaram and Adam Phillips have discovered a new class of hydrogen storage materials that could make the storage and transportation of energy more efficient and affordable. “In terms of hydrogen absorption, these materials could prove a world record,” says Phillips. “Most materials today absorb only 7 to 8 percent of hydrogen by weight, and only at cryogenic temperatures. Our materials absorb hydrogen up to 14 percent by weight at room temperature. By absorbing twice as much hydrogen, the new materials could help make the dream of a hydrogen economy come true.”

Blast-proof

The next generation of ballistic armor for U.S. military vehicles is based on technology developed by UVA’s materials science and engineering department. The metallic panels, manufactured by Charlottesville-based Cellular Materials International, are exceptionally strong but lightweight and can withstand high-impact explosive blasts. The armor technology is based on 18 patents held by UVA researchers.

Overworked

In the workplace, women feel like they have to work harder than men at the same job, according to a new study by sociologists Elizabeth Gorman of UVA and Julie Kmec of Washington State University. Five surveys were given in different years to different groups of men and women in Britain and the U.S. “Between a man and a woman who hold the same job, shoulder the same burdens at home and have the same education and skills, the woman is likely to feel she must work harder,” Gorman says. The sociologists view the data as reflecting stricter performance standards imposed on women; in short, women continually have to prove themselves. Their research appeared in the December issue of the journal Gender and Society.

Diabetes advance

A team of Health System researchers has identified an enzyme that is believed to be an important instigator of Type 1 diabetes, or autoimmune diabetes, which arises when the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells destroy the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. The study, published in the February issue of the journal Diabetes, focused on a single gene that leads to the production of the enzyme. Researchers say their findings may help predict who may be at risk for developing Type 1 diabetes and paves the way for new treatments to prevent or reverse it.