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From knee to neuron, offspring of Yale’s 3-D printers multiply

November 12, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

Yale Univ. neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd has studied neurons for decades. But until recently he’d never had a neuron he could grasp with his own two hands: Neurons are much too small. Now he’s got his very own 3-D neuron in all its spidery glory, a vastly enlarged but precise replica that is the latest custom-made anatomical model to emerge from the Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID).

A toolbox for carbon dioxide-free buildings

November 5, 2013 4:32 pm | News | Comments

A set of new building technologies introduced by an alliance of Swiss companies makes it possible to heat and cool buildings without the emission of carbon dioxide. One initial key element of the system is a hybrid collector, built into the roof construction, that serves as a photovoltaic system delivering both solar power and heat that is fed to an underground accumulator.

EPFL's campus has the world's first solar window

November 5, 2013 4:08 pm | News | Comments

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne’s new convention center, opening in April 2014, is being equipped with a glass façade composed of dye solar cells. The project, a world’s first for an exterior window, leverages the potential of dye-sensitive solar cells known as Graetzel cells, which are indifferent to the angle of incidence of light that hits them.

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Organic lights and solar cells, straight from the printer

November 4, 2013 2:17 pm | News | Comments

Flickering façades, curved monitors, flashing clothing, fluorescent wallpaper, flexible solar cells—and all printable. This is no make-believe vision of the future; it will soon be possible using a new printing process for organic light-emitting diodes.

Metamaterial lens has ten times more power

October 29, 2013 8:48 am | News | Comments

A lens with ten times the resolution of any current lens, making it a powerful new tool for the biological sciences, has been developed by researchers at the Univ. of Sydney. The lens was created using fiber-optic manufacturing technology, and is a metamaterial, or a material with completely new properties not found in nature.

Vitamin boost for 3-D printing

October 23, 2013 7:52 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ., the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Laser Zentrum Hannover have discovered that a naturally occurring compound can be incorporated into 3-D printing processes to create medical implants out of non-toxic polymers. The compound is riboflavin, which is better known as vitamin B2.

Printing architecture

October 21, 2013 2:12 pm | News | Comments

Two researchers from the Institute for Technology in Architecture in Switzerland have created an immersive space from artificial sandstone with a 3D printer. The design, which cannot be drawn by hand or generated by software such as CAD, resembles a gothic cathedral’s façade and is currently on display in Orléans, France.

Wrangling flow to quiet cars and aircraft

October 18, 2013 2:56 pm | News | Comments

In recent years, the development of devices known as plasma actuators has advanced the promise of controlling flows in new ways that increase lift, reduce drag and improve aerodynamic efficiencies. A Univ. of Florida team has been engineering their own variety, called serpentine plasma actuators, which imparts a greater level of versatility in flow control.

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Stepping out in style

October 15, 2013 7:58 am | Videos | Comments

Walking is tricky business. And while most artificial feet and limbs do a pretty good job restoring mobility to people who have lost a leg, they have a ways to go before they equal the intricacy of a natural gait. As a result, over half of all amputees take a fall every year, compared to about one-third of people over 65. Researchers are taking a giant step toward solving the problem.

Mass producing pocket laboratories

October 2, 2013 9:24 am | News | Comments

There is certainly no shortage of lab-on-a-chip devices, but in most cases manufacturers have not yet found a cost-effective way to mass produce them. Scientists are now developing a platform for series production of these pocket laboratories. The first major step is moving away from the usual injection molding or wet chemical processing techniques in favor of roll-to-roll processing.

Photonics breakthrough could allow for faster electronics

October 1, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

A pair of breakthroughs in the field of silicon photonics by researchers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Micron Technology Inc. could allow for the trajectory of exponential improvement in microprocessors that began nearly half a century ago—known as Moore’s Law—to continue well into the future, allowing for increasingly faster electronics, from supercomputers to laptops to smartphones.

Achieving an innovation nation

September 25, 2013 7:42 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The U.S. economy retains myriad sources of innovative capacity; but not enough of the innovations occurring in America today reach the marketplace, according to a major two-year Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. The report found that potentially valuable innovations occur throughout the advanced manufacturing sector and in companies of all sizes, from multinational conglomerates to specialized “Main Street” firms.

R&D 100 Video: Solution for Magnetic Flux Leakage

September 23, 2013 10:09 am | Videos | Comments

FluxMerge, adjusts the magnetic reluctance distribution across the pole faces opposite the airgap. The magnetic flux crossing over the airgap, as a result, merges toward the central axis along the magnetic circuit path to reduce leakage into the surrounding space. Reduced airgap leakage improves efficiency by about 1.5%, and offers the opportunity for more compact designs.

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Robohand uses 3-D printing to replace lost digits

September 11, 2013 10:50 am | by Carley Petesch, Associated Press | News | Comments

Richard Van As, a South African carpenter, lost four fingers from his right hand to a circular saw two years ago. He was unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to get a myoelectric hand, which detects a muscle's electric impulses to activate an artificial limb. He decided to build his own hand, made from cables, screws and thermoplastic, using only the Internet and a 3-D printer. He has since fitted 170 people with Robohands.

Interlocking segments might be 3-D printed, assembled into parts

September 11, 2013 10:46 am | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers are working with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop a technology for creating parts out of interlocking segments produced using 3-D printing to repair vehicles and other equipment in the field. The Purdue portion of the research focuses on clever, Lego-like building blocks called "topologically interlocking structures”.

The new allure of electric cars: Blazing-fast speeds

September 10, 2013 11:52 am | News | Comments

Speaking at the American Chemical Society’s meeting in Indianapolis this week, electric vehicle pioneer John E. Waters said that relatively recent advances in engineering and use of lithium-ion batteries are producing electric vehicles (EVs) capable of leaving traditional internal combustion engine race cars in the dust. Part of the shift is the elevated storage-to-torque efficiency of electric motor.

Semiconductor wafer saws made from carbon nanotubes and diamond

September 9, 2013 11:10 am | News | Comments

A new method developed in Germany makes it possible to manufacture ultra-thin saw wires by placing diamond on carbon nanotubes. The new invention is designed to cut through silicon wafers with minimum kerf, or “sawdust”, loss that is the unavoidable result of current tools used in semiconductor wafer fabrication.

SpaceShipTwo successfully completes second flight test

September 6, 2013 3:09 pm | News | Comments

On Thursday, Virgin Galactic demonstrated the SpaceShipTwo’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time. The second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle marked the first high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism and achieved the highest altitude and greatest speed to date.

SpaceshipTwo successfully completes second flight test

September 6, 2013 3:04 pm | Videos | Comments

On Thursday, Virgin Galactic demonstrated the SpaceShipTwo’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time. The second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle marked the first high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism and achieved the highest altitude and greatest speed to date.

Computer model to help design flexible touchscreens

September 4, 2013 7:33 am | News | Comments

Electronic devices with touchscreens rely on transparent conductors made of indium tin oxide, or ITO. But cost and the physical limitations of this material are limiting progress in developing flexible touchscreens. A research collaboration between the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Duke Univ. is exploring the use of nanowires to replace ITO, and are using simulation tools to determine how they might work.

Grayscale technique opens third dimension for nanoscale lithography

August 29, 2013 3:32 pm | News | Comments

Engineers at NIST have developed a new technique for fabricating high aspect ratio 3-D nanostructures over large device areas using a combination of electron beam lithography, photolithography and resist spray coating. While it has long been possible to make complicated 3-D structures with many mask layers or expensive grayscale masks, the new technique enables researchers to etch features in two process steps without masks

Molecular motors: Power much less than expected?

August 28, 2013 2:43 pm | News | Comments

Composed of a very little number of atoms, nanomachines offer the promise of a revolution in manufacturing and civilization. Researchers around the world look at various molecules trying to put them to work. But recent measurements in Poland using a new technique for estimating power generated by motors of single molecule in size reveal that power of such motors is considerably less than expected by developers.

Plastic solar cells’ new design promises bright future

August 14, 2013 9:53 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Polymer, or plastic, solar cells contain Earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials, can be made flexible and lightweight, and can be fabricated using roll-to-roll technologies. But the cells’ power-conversion efficiency has been limited. A Northwestern Univ. research reports the design and synthesis of new polymer semiconductors a plastic solar cells with fill factors of 80%. This number is close to that of silicon solar cells.

The positive sides of doping

August 14, 2013 9:45 am | News | Comments

Flexible thin film solar cells that can be produced by roll-to-roll manufacturing are a highly promising route to cheap solar electricity. Researchers in Switzerland report that they have designed a low-cost cadmium telluride solar cell technology based on metal foil substrates. By doping the cells with cooper, they have elevated efficiency from 8 to 11.5%.

A new light wave

August 12, 2013 8:41 am | News | Comments

Hold a mag­ni­fying glass over the dri­veway on a sunny day and it will focus sun­light into a single beam. Hold a prism in front of the window and the light will spread out into a per­fect rainbow. Lenses like these have been used for thou­sands of years. Until now, all lenses have shared one big lim­i­ta­tion: It’s impos­sible to focus light into a beam that’s smaller than half of the light’s wave­length.

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