In a major step for Virgin Galactic’s bid to create the first space tourism company, the SpaceShipTwo made its first powered flight Monday, breaking the sound barrier in a test over the Mojave Desert. It then glided to a safe landing. The successful flight moves the company closer to its goal of flying paying passengers on brief hops into space.
Kevin Keener, a professor of food science at Purdue University, looks for new ways to kill harmful bacteria, and has determined that exposing packaged liquids, fruits, and vegetables to an electrical field for just minutes could remove all traces of foodborne pathogens. His method uses electricity to generate a plasma, or ionized gas, from atmospheric gases inside the food package.
To increase the neutron detection efficiency of bulk-micromegas (MICRO-MEsh GAseous Structure) neutron detectors, researchers from China and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville have proposed three new types of thin-film converters: micro-channel, parallel micro-pillar, and oblique micro-pillar 2D array. When validated using Monte Carlo simulations, the latter design showed a threefold increase in neutron detection efficiencies.
Solar Impulse, considered the world's most advanced solar-powered plane, is set to travel across the United States, stopping for seven to 10 days at major airports in each city, so the pilots can display and discuss the aircraft with reporters, students, engineers and aviation fans. It plans to reach New York's Kennedy Airport in early July—without using a drop of fuel, its creators said.
Driving a car at low engine speed causes torsional vibrations that passengers perceive as a hum. A new type of centrifugal pendulum has been developed in Germany that helps reduce these vibrations. This device might be useful as automakers increasingly use engines with fewer cylinders which are prone to this phenomenon.
A team of researchers at Stanford has designed an entirely new form of cooling structure that cools even when the sun is shining. The new structure accomplishes two goals. It is an effective a broadband mirror for solar light—it reflects most of the sunlight. It also emits thermal radiation very efficiently within the crucial wavelength range needed to escape Earth's atmosphere.
Have you ever had a fighter jet fly over your home and the noise of the aircraft booms loud enough to rattle the windows? Imagine working on an aircraft carrier or air base, up close to the engines as they take off or land. Several U.S.-based research teams, with the support of the Office of Naval Research, have been tasked with finding a way to reduce that deafening noise as part of a three-year project.
The future is unclear for a promising heart device aimed at preventing strokes in people at high risk of them because of an irregular heartbeat. Early results from a key study of Boston Scientific Corp.'s Watchman device suggested it is safer than previous testing found, but may not be better than a drug that is used now for preventing strokes, heart-related deaths and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation over the long term.
Scientists in Maryland have built a new practical, high-efficiency nanostructured electron source. Unlike thermionic electron sources, which use an electric current to boil electrons off the surface of a wire, the new emitter uses highly porous silicon carbide to avoid the energy efficiency problems of traditional emitters. This type of field emitter has a fast response and could lead to improved X-ray imaging systems.
Researchers at the NIST have demonstrated a solid-state refrigerator that uses quantum physics in micro- and nanostructures to cool a much larger object to extremely low temperatures. What's more, the prototype NIST refrigerator, which measures a few inches in outer dimensions, enables researchers to place any suitable object in the cooling zone and later remove and replace it, similar to an all-purpose kitchen refrigerator.
A research team in Austria has developed an entirely new way of capturing images based on a flat, flexible, transparent, and potentially disposable polymer sheet. The new imager, which resembles a flexible plastic film, uses fluorescent particles to capture incoming light and channel a portion of it to an array of sensors framing the sheet. With no electronics or internal components, the imager’s elegant design makes it ideal for a new breed of imaging technologies.
Electric rocket engines known as Hall thrusters, which use a super high-velocity stream of ions to propel a spacecraft in space, have been used successfully onboard many missions for half a century. Erosion of the discharge channels walls, however, has limited their application to the inner solar system. A research team at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found a way to effectively control this erosion by shaping the engine's magnetic field in a way that shields the walls from ion bombardment.
The size of electronic components is reaching a physical limit. While 3D assembly can reduce bulk, the challenge is in manufacturing these complex electrical connections. Biologists and physicists in France have recently developed a system of self-assembled connections using actin filaments for 3D microelectronic structures. Once the actin filaments become conductors, they join the various components of a system together.
Researchers have developed a model that will, hopefully, help companies develop innovative products that people actually want to use. The model is a first step towards capturing the behavior of both companies and consumers, so that we end up with more iPods and fewer Edsels.
British researchers have unveiled a futuristic Antarctic research base that can move, sliding across the frozen surface to beat the shifting ice and pounding snow that doomed its predecessors. Its builders hope that the Halley VI Research Station, the sixth facility to occupy the site on the Brunt Ice Shelf, can adapt to the unpredictable ice conditions.
The Navy’s fifth Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), Milwaukee, will be the first to benefit from new high-power density waterjets aimed at staving off rudder and propeller damage experienced on high-speed ships. Developed by Rolls-Royce Naval Marine in Walpole, Mass., the new Axial-Flow Waterjet Mk-1 can move nearly half a million gallons of seawater per minute, providing more thrust per unit than current commercial waterjets.
For years, scientists have studied the potential benefits of a new branch of solar energy technology that relies on incredibly small nanosized antenna arrays that are theoretically capable of harvesting more than 70% of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation and simultaneously converting it into usable electric power. A new fabrication technique developed by University of Connecticut engineering professor Brian Willis could provide the breakthrough for this technology.
A new massive blimp-like aircraft was recently hovering just a dozen feet off a military hangar floor during flight testing south of Los Angeles. The fact that the hulking Aeroscraft could fly for just a few minutes represents a step forward in aviation, according to the engineers who developed it. According to the Department of Defense and NASA, their prototype could one day carry more cargo than any other aircraft to disaster zones and forward military bases.
NIST has demonstrated a novel chip-scale instrument made of carbon nanotubes that may simplify absolute measurements of laser power, especially the light signals transmitted by optical fibers in telecommunications networks. The prototype device, a miniature version of an instrument called a cryogenic radiometer, is a silicon chip topped with circular mats of carbon nanotubes standing on end.
Researchers at the Aalto University School of Chemical Technology have applied atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique to the synthesis of thermoelectric materials. Converting waste energy into electricity, these materials are a promising means of producing energy cost-effectively and without carbon dioxide emissions in the future.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are known for their energy efficiency and durability, but the bluish, cold light of current white LEDs has precluded their widespread use for indoor lighting. Now, University of Georgia scientists have fabricated what is thought to be the world's first LED that emits a warm white light using a single light-emitting material, or phosphor, with a single emitting center for illumination.
Engineers working on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have recently concluded performance testing on the observatory's aft-optics subsystem at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp's facilities in Boulder, Colo. This is significant because it means all of the telescope's mirror systems are ready for integration and testing.
A research team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is developing an airborne testing capability for sensors, communications devices, and other airborne payloads. This aerial test bed, called the GTRI Airborne Unmanned Sensor System (GAUSS), is based on an unmanned aerial vehicle made by Griffon Aerospace and modified by GTRI.
Electronics devices are a mainstay of our daily lives. But the expectation that the next shopping season will inevitably offer an upgrade to more-powerful gadgets largely depends on size, and developers who employ top down manufacturing methods are running into expensive roadblocks as the domain shrinks to the nanoscale. To go further, some researchers looking at a bottom up method, coaxing individual molecules to self-arrange into patterns.
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology are trying to open the world of tablets to children whose limited mobility makes it difficult for them to perform the common pinch and swipe gestures required to control the devices. In their Access4Kids wireless input device, a sensor system to translate physical movements into fine-motor gestures to control a tablet.