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Researchers find simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency

January 6, 2014 7:42 am | News | Comments

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.

Researchers make a micro-muscular breakthrough

December 19, 2013 8:27 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

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.

Jet-propelled wastewater treatment

December 19, 2013 7:55 pm | News | Comments

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.

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Ultra-short pulse laser delivers controlled ablation to industrial settings

December 19, 2013 7:36 pm | News | Comments

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.

Sharpening the focus in quantum photolithography

December 17, 2013 8:52 am | News | Comments

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 deal adds to company's robotics toolbox

December 17, 2013 8:44 am | by Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

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.

3-D printed implants may soon fix complex injuries

December 13, 2013 2:54 pm | by Katie Feldman, National Science Foundation | News | Comments

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.

Students' robotic arm can make you stronger

December 10, 2013 8:43 am | by Kathy Matheson, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

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New energy conversion principle could double engine efficiency

November 27, 2013 11:17 am | News | Comments

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.

Energy savings in 3-D

November 21, 2013 7:37 am | News | Comments

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.

Penguin-inspired propulsion system

November 14, 2013 1:10 pm | News | Comments

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.

Completing the circuit

November 14, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

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.

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).

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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.

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.

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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