A new catalytic converter developed in the U.K. could cut fuel consumption and manufacturing costs significantly. Tests suggest that the new prototype, which uses up to 80% less rare metal than a conventional converter, could reduce fuel consumption in a standard vehicle by up to 3%. Metals such as platinum now account for 60 to 70% of the cost of the component.
Soil scientists at Abertay Univ. are using 3-D printing technology to find out, for the very first time, exactly what is going on in the world beneath our feet. In the same way that ecologists study the interactions of living organisms above ground, Prof.Wilfred Otten and researchers at the university’s SIMBIOS Centre are taking advantage of the new technology to do the same below ground.
Superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) are incredibly sensitive magnetic flux sensors which have been limited in their applications because of thermal challenges at ultralow temperatures. Researchers in the U.K. have succeeded in overcoming this difficulty by introducing a new type of nanoscale SQUID based on optimized proximity effect bilayers.
Researchers have shown how to increase the efficiency of thin-film solar cells, a technology that could bring low-cost solar energy. The approach uses 3-D photonic crystals to absorb more sunlight than conventional thin-film cells. The synthetic crystals possess a structure called an inverse opal to make use of and enhance properties found in the gemstones to reflect, diffract and bend incoming sunlight.
Based on some of the printing technologies on display at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas, the question is not whether everyone’s home will someday have a 3-D printer. The question is which rooms will have one: the garage, the kitchen or the wardrobe? Possibly all three. Startups are showcasing printers than can create food, robotics and even clothing in just minutes from inexpensive raw materials.
Researchers in Texas have designed a micro-windmill that generates wind energy and may become an innovative solution to cell phone batteries constantly in need of recharging. A single grain of rice could hold about 10 of these tiny windmills, and hundreds of them could be embedded in a sleeve for a cell phone.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30%. Polymer-based solar cells have two domains, consisting of an electron acceptor and an electron donor material.
A team of researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has demonstrated a micro-sized robotic torsional muscle/motor made from vanadium dioxide that for its size is a thousand times more powerful than a human muscle. It is able to catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself over a distance five times its length within just 60 milliseconds.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart have developed a new method for the active degradation of organic pollutants in solution by using swimming microengines. These tiny “engines” are made from platinum and iron and are highly efficient in removing organic pollutants from water using hydrogen peroxide.
Ultra-short laser pulses provide a fast and precise way of processing a wide range of materials without excessive heat input. Scientists from Bosch, TRUMPF, Jena Univ. and Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have turned the ultra-short pulse laser into an effective series-production tool. This type of laser can remove, or ablate, tiny areas measuring just a few nanometers.
Photolithography uses light beams to design thin geometric patterns on the substrates of semiconductors used in microelectronic devices, but the phenomenon of light diffraction does not permit highly accurate patterns. A new quantum lithography protocol from a scientist in Russia now makes it possible to improve the accuracy of photolithography by addressing its physical limitations.
Google may be gearing up to build robots that resemble props in science-fiction movies as the ambitious Internet company expands into yet another technological frontier. To gather the expertise and research it needs, Google has purchased eight companies that specialize in robotics this year. The acquisitions are being assembled into a new robotics division headed by Andy Rubin, who oversaw Google's development of Android.
Researchers are adapting technology for 3-D printing metals, ceramics, and other materials to create custom medical implants designed to fix complicated injuries. Using a technology called Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS), these new implants integrate into the body more effectively, encouraging bone regrowth that ultimately results in a stronger, longer lasting implant.
The Titan Arm, a robotic device invented by Univ. of Pennsylvania engineering students, looks and sounds like part of a superhero's costume. But its creators say it's designed for ordinary people—those who need either physical rehabilitation or a little extra muscle for their job. The arm can help its wearer carry an additional 40 pounds.
Professor Ken Naitoh of Waseda Univ.'s Faculty of Science and Engineering has discovered a new compressive combustion principle that could yield engines with a much higher level of thermal efficiency: up to 60% or more in applications including automobiles, power generation and aircraft.
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working with aircraft makers to determine energy savings through the use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing. The research team is printing airplane parts to show additive manufacturing’s potential as a technology that should be considered foundational to processes seeking more energy efficiency.
Back in 1991, Nature published a picture from the IMAX movie Antarctica, pointing out that emperor penguins can accelerate from 0 to 7 m/s in less than a second. That got the attention of Flavio Noca, now an aerodynamics professor in Switzerland, who will present a new spherical joint mechanism inspired by penguin propulsion at the next American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Pittsburgh.
It may sound like chasing rainbows: Detecting flashes of light and energy that are invisible to the human eye and last only for a trillionth of an eye-blink. These flashes hold clues to the nature of exotic subatomic particles, important biological proteins and massive space objects alike.To reveal new details about science at these extremes, a team of scientists is designing intricate signal-processing chips known as ASICs.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.