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Electrospray thruster makes small satellites more capable

March 11, 2015 8:28 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Small satellites are becoming increasingly popular tools for Earth-imaging, communications and other applications. But they have major control issues: Once in space, they can’t accurately point cameras or change orbit, and they usually crash and burn within a few months. What these satellites lack is a viable propulsion system.

Mid-IR frequency combs enable high-resolution spectroscopy for sensitive gas sensing

March 11, 2015 8:15 am | by Ghent Univ. | News | Comments

A frequency comb source is a light source with a spectrum containing thousands of laser lines. The development of these sources has been revolutionary for fundamental science. It has allowed the construction of a link between the optical part of the electromagnetic spectrum and the radio frequency part. As such, it has allowed researchers to determine optical frequencies with an unprecedented precision.

Process identified for improving durability of glass

March 11, 2015 7:59 am | by Bill Kisliuk, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles and the Univ. Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris have identified a method for manufacturing longer-lasting and stronger forms of glass. The research could lead to more durable display screens, fiber-optic cables, windows and other materials, including cement. 

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Finger-mounted reading device for the blind

March 10, 2015 1:29 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory have built a prototype of a finger-mounted device with a built-in camera that converts written text into audio for visually impaired users.             

Fluid-filled pores separate materials with fine precision

March 6, 2015 10:10 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | News | Comments

In nature, pores can continuously control how a living organism absorbs or excretes fluids, vapors and solids in response to its environment; for example, tiny holes invisible to the naked eye called stomata cover a plant's leaves and stems as gated openings through which oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapors are transported in and out during photosynthesis and respiration.

3-D Printing Blasts Off

March 6, 2015 9:55 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

3-D printing isn’t just a commodity on Earth, it’s now also a commodity in space. In November 2014, the first 3-D printer in space created its first object, albeit self-fulfilling, a replacement faceplate for the printer’s casing that holds its internal wiring in place.

Simulations provide new insight into emerging nanoelectronic device

March 6, 2015 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have used an advanced model to simulate in unprecedented detail the workings of "resistance-switching cells" that might replace conventional memory for electronics applications, with the potential to bring faster and higher capacity computer memory while consuming less energy. These electromechanical "metallization cells" rapidly switch from high resistance to low resistance.

Breakthrough in nonlinear optics research

March 5, 2015 9:29 am | by Verity Leatherdale, Univ. of Sydney | News | Comments

A method to selectively enhance or inhibit optical nonlinearities in a chip-scale device has been developed by scientists, led by the Univ. of Sydney. The breakthrough is a fundamental advance for research in photonic chips and optical communications.

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New way to control information by mixing light and sound

March 5, 2015 8:59 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

For once, slower is better in a new piece of technology. A Yale Univ. lab has developed a new, radio frequency processing device that allows information to be controlled more effectively, opening the door to a new generation of signal processing on microchips. One of the keys to the technology involves slowing information down.

Strength in numbers

March 4, 2015 4:37 pm | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

When scientists develop a full quantum computer, the world of computing will undergo a revolution of sophistication, speed and energy efficiency that will make even our beefiest conventional machines seem like Stone Age clunkers by comparison. But, before that happens, quantum physicists will have to create circuitry that takes advantage of the marvelous computing prowess promised by the quantum bit.

Technology could cut costs of night vision, thermal imaging

March 4, 2015 4:06 pm | by LaKisha Ladson, UT Dallas | News | Comments

Engineers at The Univ. of Texas at Dallas have created semiconductor technology that could make night vision and thermal imaging affordable for everyday use. The engineers created an electronic device in affordable technology that detects electromagnetic waves to create images at nearly 10 THz, which is the highest frequency for electronic devices. The device could make night vision and heat-based imaging affordable.

Study could change nuclear fuel

March 4, 2015 11:44 am | by David Goddard, UT Knoxville | News | Comments

The adverse effects of radiation on nuclear fuel could soon be better controlled thanks to research involving Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville's College of Engineering. Maik Lang, an assistant nuclear engineering professor, is part of a team of researchers that has studied how specific properties of materials involved in nuclear energy production, and their performance, can change their response to radiation.

How big data can be used to understand major events

March 4, 2015 11:38 am | by Joanne Fryer, Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

With the most unpredictable U.K. general election looming in modern times, how can big data be used to understand how elections are covered by the media? New research has, for the first time, analyzed over 130,000 online news articles to find out how the 2012 U.S. presidential election played out in the media.

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Black phosphorous: A new wonder material for improving optical communication

March 3, 2015 9:18 am | by Lacey Nygard, Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

Phosphorus, a highly reactive element commonly found in match heads, tracer bullets and fertilizers, can be turned into a stable crystalline form known as black phosphorus. In a new study, researchers from the Univ. of Minnesota used an ultra-thin black phosphorus film, only 20 layers of atoms, to demonstrate high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits.

Pens filled with high-tech inks for DIY sensors

March 3, 2015 9:06 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering | Videos | Comments

A new simple tool developed by nanoengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego, is opening the door to an era when anyone will be able to build sensors, anywhere. The team developed high-tech bio-inks that react with several chemicals, including glucose. They filled off-the-shelf ballpoint pens with the inks and were able to draw sensors to measure glucose directly on the skin and sensors to measure pollution on leaves.

Breakthrough in OLED technology

March 2, 2015 12:27 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are made from carbon-containing materials, have the potential to revolutionize future display technologies, making low-power displays so thin they'll wrap or fold around other structures, for instance. Conventional LCD displays must be backlit by either fluorescent light bulbs or conventional LEDs whereas OLEDs don't require back lighting.

Analysis shows ion slowdown in fuel cell material

March 2, 2015 11:01 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Dislocations in oxides such as cerium dioxide, a solid electrolyte for fuel cells, turn out to have a property that is the opposite of what researchers had expected, according to a new analysis. Researchers had thought that a certain kind of strain would speed the transport of oxygen ions through the material, potentially leading to the much faster diffusion that is necessary in high-performance solid-oxide fuel cells.

High-precision radar for the steel industry

March 2, 2015 8:42 am | by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft | News | Comments

Steel is the most important material in vehicle and machinery construction. Large quantities of offcuts and scraps are left over from rolling and milling crude steel into strip steel. New radar from Fraunhofer researchers measures the width of the strip during fabrication to an accuracy of micrometers and helps to minimize scrap.

Innovative wireless sensor technology yields better energy efficiency

March 2, 2015 8:17 am | by Sara Shoemaker, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Regulating comfort in small commercial buildings could become more efficient and less expensive thanks to an innovative low-cost wireless sensor technology being developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Buildings are responsible for about 40% of the energy consumed in the U.S. Studies indicate that advanced sensors and controls have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 20 to 30%.

3-D printed parts to provide low-cost, custom alternatives for lab equipment

February 27, 2015 10:14 am | by Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Communications | News | Comments

The 3-D printing scene, a growing favorite of do-it-yourselfers, has spread to the study of plasma physics. With a series of experiments, researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have found that 3-D printers can be an important tool in laboratory environments.

QR codes engineered into cybersecurity protection

February 27, 2015 10:03 am | by Colin Poitras, UConn | News | Comments

QR, or quick response, codes have been used to convey information about everything from cereals to cars and new homes. But, Univ. of Connecticut researchers think the codes have a greater potential: protecting national security. Using advanced 3-D optical imaging and extremely low light photon counting encryption the team has taken a QR code and transformed it into a high-end cybersecurity application.

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

February 27, 2015 9:53 am | by Vincent Horiuchi, Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Univ. of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of separating different frequencies in the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that could allow cellphone users and Internet surfers to download data a thousand times faster than today. Once the filter is designed, it can be fabricated using an off-the-shelf inkjet printer.

Research signals big future for quantum radar

February 27, 2015 7:55 am | by David Garner, Univ. of York | News | Comments

A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the Univ. of York. The new breed of radar is a hybrid system that uses quantum correlation between microwave and optical beams to detect objects of low reflectivity, such as cancer cells or aircraft with a stealth capability.

Using “fuzzy logic” to optimize hybrid solar/battery systems

February 26, 2015 11:11 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

How did fuzzy logic help a group of researchers in Tunisia and Algeria create an ideal photovoltaic system that obeys the supply-and-demand principle and its delicate balance? In the Journal of Renewable & Sustainable Energy, the group describes a new sizing system of a solar array and a battery in a standalone photovoltaic system that is based on fuzzy logic.

ORNL, Whirlpool to develop new energy-efficient refrigerator

February 26, 2015 8:20 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Whirlpool Corp. are collaborating to design a refrigerator that could cut energy use by up to 40% compared with current models. The goal of the CRADA is to make a next-generation household refrigerator more energy efficient by using WISEMOTION, an innovative linear compressor manufactured by Embraco, and other novel technologies and materials.

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