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Hydrogen beam injector guides plasma physics research

September 27, 2012 6:39 am | News | Comments

The Madison Symmetric Torus, a leading piece of equipment in plasma physics research for more than 20 years, recently gained a new capability with the installation of a neutral beam injector. The addition allows University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers to delve further into the basic properties of plasmas, which are important in astrophysics research as well as numerous other applications.

100th shot for LLNL's 'gun in the desert'

September 27, 2012 3:50 am | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's JASPER gas gun has fired its 100th shot. JASPER (the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research) is a key scientific tool for the National Nuclear Security Administrations Stockpile Stewardship Program and its experiments have enabled scientists to understand important properties and behaviors of plutonium and other special nuclear materials without conducting underground nuclear tests.

Astrophysicists get first images for Dark Energy Camera

September 17, 2012 7:08 am | News | Comments

When the Dark Energy Camera opened its giant eye last week and began taking pictures of the ancient light from far-off galaxies, more than 120 members of the Dark Energy Survey eagerly awaited the first snapshots. Those images have now arrived.

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Damaged metal surfaces repair themselves

September 17, 2012 5:43 am | News | Comments

If recent research in Norway is successful, a coating filled with tiny lubricant capsules could come to the rescue when metal surfaces dry out and friction builds up. As part of a project at the Gemini Tribology Centre researchers are now testing whether it is possible—where two metal surfaces are in contact with each other—to apply a coating to surfaces formed of hard particles and capsules filled with liquid lubricant.

LHC collides protons with lead ions for the first time

September 13, 2012 5:53 am | News | Comments

This morning the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) collided protons with lead ions for the first time. This week's short run will give the experiments a first taste of proton-nucleus collisions before the main run in January to February 2013, the last LHC physics before the accelerator is shut down for maintenance.

U.S. research and development most prevalent in small number of regions

September 13, 2012 4:29 am | News | Comments

According to data from a 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey by the National Science Foundation, businesses perform the lion's share of their R&D activity in just a small number of geographic areas, particularly the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland area and the New York-Newark-Bridgeport area.

Bendable crystals resolve properties of X-ray pulses

September 12, 2012 6:27 am | News | Comments

A frustrating flaw in a set of custom crystals for an instrument at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory inspired a solution for an important scientific challenge: how to accurately measure the colors of each individual pulse from a powerful X-ray laser.

Japanese research vessel sets a new world drilling-depth record

September 7, 2012 9:52 am | News | Comments

Scientific deep sea drilling vessel “Chikyu” has set a world new record by drilling down and obtaining rock samples from deeper than 2,111 m (6,926 feet) below the seafloor off Shimokita Peninsula of Japan in the northwest Pacific Ocean. “Chikyu” is designed to reach the deeper part of the Earth such as the mantle, the plate boundary seisomogenic zones and the deep biosphere.

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'Seahorse' sees scallops in new way

September 6, 2012 4:45 am | by Jay Lindsay, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new underwater explorer hit the seas this summer, armed with cameras, strobes and sonar and charged with being a protector of sorts to a half-billion dollar resource—the Atlantic scallop catch. Developed by a former scalloper and researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the stainless steel Seahorse gives marine scientists a look at the seafloor they’ve never had before and offers uses beyond policing scallop grounds.

Scientists develop new technique for laser micro-machining

August 30, 2012 8:27 am | News | Comments

Many lasers have linear polarization, in which the electric field of the beam is, for example, vertical everywhere. Radial and azimuthal polarizations, however, have a directional change of electric field. By combining a spatial light modulater, a 100 femtosec pulse laser source, and a wave plate, researchers in the U.K. have produced lasers that use these modes to machine materials with portentially greater process efficiency.

New imaging technique homes in on electrocatalysis of nanoparticles

August 28, 2012 5:20 am | News | Comments

By modifying the rate at which chemical reactions take place, nanoparticle catalysts fulfill myriad roles in industry, the biomedical arena, and everyday life. Finding new and more effective nanoparticle catalysts to perform applications in these areas has become vital. Now, a researcher at Arizona State University has found a clever way to measure catalytical reactions of single nanoparticles and multiple particles printed in arrays, which will help to characterize and improve existing nanoparticle catalysts.

ChemCam laser sets its sights on first Martian target

August 17, 2012 10:08 am | News | Comments

Members of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover ChemCam team have received the first photos from the instrument's remote microimager. The successful capture of ChemCam's first 10 photos sets the stage for the first test bursts of the instrument's rock-zapping laser in the near future.

Seventeenth century shipwreck to be freeze-dried, rebuilt

August 15, 2012 8:16 am | by Michael Graczyk, Associated Press | News | Comments

More than three centuries ago, a French explorer's ship sank in the Gulf of Mexico, taking with it France's hopes of colonizing a vast piece of the New World—modern-day Texas. Like La Salle in 1685, researchers at Texas A&M University are in uncharted waters as they try to reconstruct his vessel with a gigantic freeze-dryer, the first undertaking of its size.

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SMART Position Sensor, Rotary Configuration

August 3, 2012 8:49 am | Product Releases | Comments

The new SMART position sensor provides a high level of accuracy needed for transportation and industrial applications, measuring values down to 0.01 degree. Potential transportation applications include steering angle, articulation angle, and boom arm detection, while industrial customers could use it in solar panels or wind turbines.

High-performance magnetic coupling research wins Navy grant

August 2, 2012 5:38 am | News | Comments

Traditional mechanical couplings and gears require lubrication, generate heat, emit vibrations and sound, suffer from structural wear and require significant maintenance. Correlated Magnetics Research has been tasked with a Small Business Innovation Research grant to design and develop high-torque magnetic couplings to produce quiet, maintenance free, power-transfer linkages for Naval systems and industrial applications.

Off-shore use of vertical-axis wind turbines gets a closer look

July 31, 2012 8:34 am | News | Comments

The economics of offshore windpower are different from land-based turbines, due to installation and operational challenges. Vertical axis wind turbines could offer the best solution thanks to several factors, including a lower center of gravity and a bottom-mounted drivetrain. But Sandia National Laboratories engineers are looking how to scale up product of the turbines’ curved blades, which are difficult to manufacture.

Simple square chart helps generate better product design

July 30, 2012 9:59 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

More and more companies are turning to simplified procedures to help tackle complex product design tasks. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, work on Design Structure Matrix analysis is helping heavyweight companies improve their products, production lines and organizations by transforming product design into a productive routine.

A green future for California high-speed rail?

July 27, 2012 7:30 am | by Sarah Yang | News | Comments

Researchers recently published a report that compared the future sustainability of California high-speed rail with that of competing modes of transportation, namely automobile and air travel. They determined that, in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, a mature high-speed rail system wins out when using greener electricity. This was true even after accounting for the emergence of more fuel-efficient airplanes and automobiles.

Engineers transform machine to make runways safer

July 24, 2012 8:16 am | News | Comments

Students at Clemson University participated in an effort to retrofit a section of an airport runway that halts overrun aircraft. Because the task required the drilling of more than 80,000 holes in concrete, the students came up with a labor-saving solution: They successfully adapted a mobile drill press for the laborious task.

DARPA creates program to promote robotic actuation efficiency

July 5, 2012 7:41 am | News | Comments

Humans and animals have evolved to consume energy very efficiently for movement. If robotic actuation can be made to approach the efficiency of human and animal actuation, the range of practical robotic applications will greatly increase. To help this progression, DARPA has created the M3 Actuation program with the goal of achieving a 2,000% increase in the efficiency of power transmission and application.

Technique allows simulation of noncrystalline materials

June 22, 2012 3:36 am | by David Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in Spain has found a new mathematical approach to simulating the electronic behavior of noncrystalline materials, which may eventually play an important part in new devices including solar cells; organic LED lights; and printable, flexible electronic circuits.

System improves automated monitoring of security cameras

June 4, 2012 9:27 am | News | Comments

Police and security teams guarding airports, docks, and border crossings from terrorist attack or illegal entry need to know immediately when someone enter a prohibited area. A network of surveillance cameras is typically used to monitor these at-risk locations. Now, a system being developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology can perform security analysis more accurately and in a fraction of the time it would take a human camera operator.

An invention with impact

May 31, 2012 8:40 am | News | Comments

What do you get when you combine a slingshot, a fish tank, a stack of 2 by 4s, and five engineering students determined to help the United States Air Force? For Team CADET at Rice University, the answer is a device to stop high-velocity projectiles without destroying them.

Lower energy could lead to more biological imaging at LCLS

May 29, 2012 11:15 am | News | Comments

While SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's Linac Coherent Light Source was designed to push the limits as a high-energy X-ray laser, users' requests led staff at the facility to successfully step it back to a lower minimum energy for some experiments. And a successful test proved that the X-ray laser could dip more deeply into the so-called "water window," an energy regime useful for biological imaging.

Coalition to develop world’s cleanest passenger train

May 22, 2012 12:57 pm | News | Comments

Plans to create the world's first carbon-neutral higher-speed locomotive were unveiled this week by the Coalition for Sustainable Rail, which has the goal of proving the viability of solid biofuel—torrefied biomass—and modern steam locomotive technology. The first step in those plans is to break the world speed record for steam trains.

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