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Invention transforms plain surfaces into low-cost touchscreens

July 10, 2013 9:26 am | News | Comments

A low-cost system developed in Singapore, based on the principles of vibration and imaging, can turn a whiteboard, glass window or even a wooden tabletop into a responsive, touch-sensitive surface. According to its developers, retrofitting the system onto existing flat-panel TVs will transform them into new, touch-sensitive display screens.

Solar plane: Making clean tech sexy, adventurous

July 9, 2013 8:11 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

This revolutionary solar-powered plane is about to end a slow and symbolic journey across America by quietly buzzing the Statue of Liberty and landing in a city whose buildings often obscure the power-giving sun. But the Solar Impulse’s designers and flyers hope to grab attention in a surprising way: By being silent and consuming little energy.

Princeton researchers create "bionic ear"

July 8, 2013 7:17 am | News | Comments

With a 3-D printer, a petri dish and some cells from a cow, Princeton Univ. researchers are growing synthetic ears that can receive—and transmit—sound. The 3-D ear is not designed to replace a human one, though; the research is meant to explore a new method of combining electronics with biological material.

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Tiny tweezers allow precision control of enzymes

July 3, 2013 10:01 am | by Richard Harth, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

In new research, Biodesign Institute team members describe a pair of tweezers made using principles of DNA base-pairing. They are astonishingly small: When the jaws of these tools are in the open position, the distance between the two arms is about 16 nanometers—over 30,000 times smaller than a single grain of sand.

Underwater propulsion supplied with the help of a 3-D printer

July 1, 2013 12:15 pm | News | Comments

Using the octopus as inspiration, researchers in Germany have built a silent propulsion system for boats and water sport devices. The actuator works by sucking water into an elastomer ball, which is then contracted by a hydraulic piston. The most compelling feature is that the designers can produce the system in a single step with a 3-D printer.

Rapid prototyping conference breaks past attendance records

June 19, 2013 12:11 am | News | Comments

More than 2,500 attendees turned out for the 2013 RAPID Conference and Exposition, almost doubling last year’s attendance and reflecting widespread excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing, according to event organizer SME. It included attendees from nearly 30 countries and the U.S.

Imec and Holst Centre unveil fully organic imager

June 12, 2013 9:37 am | News | Comments

At this week’s International Image Sensor Workshop in Utah, Belgium’s imec and Holst Centre, in collaboration with Philips Research, will present a large-area fully-organic photodetector array fabricated on a flexible substrate. The imager is sensitive in the wavelength range suitable for x-ray imaging applications.

New methods mean less friction loss in combustion engines

June 3, 2013 3:34 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany have developed a method that can reduce engine friction and wear even during production of engine components. The new surface finishing methods that the team from five different Fraunhofer Institute locations produce a nanocrystalline layer which offers much improved tribological properties of the metal. The advance, they say, can help to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

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Charred micro-bunny sculpture show promise of 3D shaping material

May 29, 2013 1:37 pm | News | Comments

A rabbit sculpture, the size of a typical bacterium, is one of several whimsical shapes created by a team of Japanese scientists using a new material that can be molded into complex, highly conductive 3D structures with features just a few micrometers across. The new resin holds promise for making customized electrodes for fuel cells or batteries, as well as biosensor interfaces for medical uses.

Engineer helps pioneer flat spray-on optical lens

May 23, 2013 2:10 pm | News | Comments

A University of British Columbia engineer and a team of U.S. researchers have made a breakthrough utilizing spray-on technology that could revolutionize the way optical lenses are made and used. Nearly all lenses—whether in an eye, a camera, or a microscope—are presently curved, which limits the aperture, or amount of light that enters. The new spray-on lens is flat, and can be affixed to a glass slide.

Inkjet-printed graphene may open doors to foldable electronics

May 20, 2013 3:15 pm | News | Comments

Northwestern University researchers have recently developed a graphene-based ink that is highly conductive and tolerant to bending, and they have used it to inkjet-print graphene patterns that could be used for extremely detailed, conductive electrodes. The resulting patterns are 250 times more conductive than previous attempts to print graphene-based electronic patterns and could be a step toward low-cost, foldable electronics.

DNA-guided assembly yields ribbon-like nanostructures

May 16, 2013 12:20 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered that DNA "linker" strands coax nano-sized rods to line up in way unlike any other spontaneous arrangement of rod-shaped objects. The arrangement—with the rods forming "rungs" on ladder-like ribbons linked by multiple DNA strands—results from the collective interactions of the flexible DNA tethers and may be unique to the nanoscale.

First precise MEMS output measurement technique unveiled

May 14, 2013 1:06 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Europe have developed a new experimental system to gain accurate information on mechanical values and properties of any microelectromechanical (MEMS) device through electrical measurement. The technique works by applying a current across the device with a varying frequency and analyzes the harmonic content of the output voltage of the component parts.

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Small electric UAV shatters endurance record

May 10, 2013 12:53 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) recently flew their fuel cell powered Ion Tiger UAV for 48 hours and 1 minute on April 16-18 by using liquid hydrogen fuel in a new, NRL-developed, cryogenic fuel storage tank and delivery system. This flight shatters their previous record of 26 hours and 2 minutes set in 2009 using the same vehicle, but with gaseous hydrogen stored at 5000 psi.

An electronic nose can tell pears and apples apart

May 8, 2013 12:13 pm | News | Comments

Swedish and Spanish engineers have created a system of sensors that detects fruit odors more effectively than the human sense of smell. For now, the device, which has 32 sensors and can process scent data in real time, can distinguish between the odorous compounds emitted by pears and apples, but the system can be tailored to other applications.

Electronics comes to paper

May 8, 2013 9:43 am | News | Comments

Paper, a light and foldable raw material, could be a cost-efficient and simple basis for electronic devices if a practical solution for depositing conductive structures could be found. Researchers in Germany say they have done this by creating targeted structures by printing and heating a catalyst on a sheet of paper. The solution was created with a conventional inkjet printer.

New NIST measurement tool is on target for MEMS industry

May 3, 2013 9:19 am | News | Comments

As markets for miniature, hybrid machines known as MEMS grow and diversify, NIST has introduced a long-awaited measurement tool that will help growing numbers of device designers, manufacturers and customers to see eye to eye on eight dimensional and material property measurements that are key to device performance.

On-site asbestos detector IDs fibers in real-time

May 2, 2013 12:46 pm | News | Comments

Asbestos was banned in the many industrialized countries in the 1980s, but the threat lingers on in the ceilings, walls and floors of old buildings and homes. Now a team of researchers in the U.K. has developed and tested the first portable, real-time airborne asbestos detector. The device uses a laser-based light scattering technique to identify harmful fibers.

Virgin Galactic spaceship makes first powered flight

April 29, 2013 11:00 pm | by Raquel Maria Dillon, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

In-package plasma process quickly, effectively kills bacteria

April 17, 2013 8:49 am | by Brian Wallheimer, Purdue University | News | Comments

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.

High-efficiency neutron imaging detector features new oblique design

March 31, 2013 6:53 pm | News | Comments

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 plane plans stops in Phoenix, Dallas, NYC

March 28, 2013 10:41 pm | by Terence Chea, Associated Press | News | Comments

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.

Centrifugal pendulum reduces engine vibrations

March 28, 2013 9:34 am | News | Comments

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.

New type of solar structure cools buildings in full sunlight

March 27, 2013 2:45 pm | News | Comments

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.

Researchers seek to reduce deafening jet engine noise

March 25, 2013 11:59 am | News | Comments

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.

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