Gharib covers Saint Elmo’s fire and more at Talbot


Special guest lecturer Professor Morteza Gharib (second from left) with MechSE professors (from left) Leonardo Chamorro, Anthony Jacobi, and Mattia Gazzola.
Special guest lecturer Professor Morteza Gharib (second from left) with MechSE professors (from left) Leonardo Chamorro, Anthony Jacobi, and Mattia Gazzola.
The October 9 Arthur Newell Tallbot Distinguished Lecture featured a renowned professor of aeronautics and bioinspired engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. Morteza (Mory) Gharib presented “Toroidal plasmoid generation via extreme hydrodynamic shear” in the NCSA auditorium at Illinois.

According to the lecture abstract, “Saint Elmo’s fire and lightning are two known forms of naturally occurring atmospheric pressure plasmas. As a technology, non-thermal plasmas are induced from artificially created electromagnetic or electrostatic fields. Here we report the observation of arguably a unique case of a naturally formed such plasma created in the air at room temperature without external electromagnetic action, by impinging a high-speed microjet of deionized water on a dielectric solid surface.  We demonstrate that tribo-electrification from extreme and focused hydrodynamic shear is the driving mechanism for the generation of energetic free electrons. Air ionization results in a plasma that, unlike the general family, is topologically well defined in the form of a coherent toroidal structure. Possibly confined through its self-induced electromagnetic field, this plasmoid is shown to emit strong luminescence and discrete frequency radio waves. Our experimental study suggests the discovery of a unique platform to support experimentation in low-temperature plasma science.”

Gharib is the Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering and the Director of Graduate Aerospace Laboratories and the Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST) at Caltech.  As Director of CAST, he oversees the interdisciplinary research that brings together the science and engineering of current and future autonomous systems and technologies under one roof, unifying artificial intelligence, machine learning, aeronautics, controls and robotics. He is the recipient of the 2016 G. I. Taylor Medal from the Society of Engineering Science and he received the American Physical Society’s Fluid Dynamics award in 2015. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering; and he is a Fellow (Charter) of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering. He holds 105 US patents in the fields of advanced imaging and medical devices.

Arthur Newell Talbot was named Professor of Municipal and Sanitary Engineering in charge of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Illinois until 1926, and regarded teaching as the most important aspect of his work at the university. The Arthur Newell Talbot Distinguished Lecture is made possible through the support of the Talbot family, in honor of their ancestor’s commitment to learning and teaching.