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Fifty meters of optical fiber shrunk to size of microchip

December 3, 2013 2:19 pm | News | Comments

DARPA-funded researchers have recently developed new methods to integrate long 50-m coils of waveguides with low signal loss onto microchips. This new class of photonic waveguides, with losses approaching that of optical fiber, is smaller and more precise than any previous light delay device.

SunPartner Technologies, 3M to deliver wireless transparent solar charging system

November 22, 2013 3:56 pm | News | Comments

SunPartner Technologies and 3M Company have announced an agreement to collaborate in product development and technical solutions based on engineered electronics materials from 3M and transparent solar cell technologies from Sunpartner Technologies. The two companies are developing a sustainable wireless transparent micro component that will charge devices while they are being used and exposed to light.

Researchers in Germany build bio-based solar cell

November 21, 2013 12:46 pm | News | Comments

In leaves, two proteins are responsible for photosynthesis, and they perform the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass very efficiently. Scientists have now harnessed this capability by embedding these proteins into complex molecules developed in the laboratory. Their bio-based solar cell creates electron current instead of biomass.

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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.

New milestone could help magnets end era of computer transistors

November 20, 2013 9:48 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

New work by researchers at Univ. of California, Berkeley could soon transform the building blocks of modern electronics by making nanomagnetic switches a viable replacement for the conventional transistors found in all computers.

Next generation of biofuels is still years away

November 14, 2013 12:54 pm | by Jonathan Fahey, Associated Press | News | Comments

The first trickle of fuels made from agricultural waste is finally winding its way into the nation's energy supply. But the full benefits of this fuel source remain many years away, and ethanol, which was meant to be a stop-gap until non-food sources of fuel were found, has been far more damaging to the environment than the government predicted.

Team demonstrates new paradigm for solar cell construction

November 12, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Drexel Univ. have experimentally demonstrated a new method for solar cell construction which may ultimately make them less expensive, easier to manufacture and more efficient at harvesting energy from the sun. The breakthrough, which is the result of five years of focused research, relies on specifically designed perovskite crystals that deliver a “bulk” photovoltaic effect.

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.

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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.

Driver monitoring systems extend beyond luxury nameplates

November 5, 2013 4:01 pm | News | Comments

A new market study forecasts that the global market for driver monitoring systems will reach 64.8 million units by the end of 2020 with the majority of shipments being accounted for in vehicles sold in the Asia-Pacific region. A major 2013 is that these systems are migrating from the luxury brands like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz to more mass market models.

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.

Microfluidic material breakthrough allows wafer-scale mass production of lab-on-chip

November 1, 2013 12:04 pm | News | Comments

Belgian nanoelectronics research center Imec and JSR, a materials company based in Tokyo, Japan, announce that they have successfully used JSR’s innovative PA (Photo-patternable Adhesive) material for wafer-scale processing of lab-on-chip devices. Using this material, imec has processed microfluidic cell-sorter devices, merging microheaters and sensors with wafer-scale polymer microfluidics.

4-D printing technology developed for composite materials

October 23, 2013 8:17 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder have successfully added a fourth dimension to their printing technology, opening up exciting possibilities for the creation and use of adaptive, composite materials in manufacturing, packaging and biomedical applications. The researchers incorporated “shape memory” polymer fibers into the composite materials used in traditional 3-D printing.

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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.

3-D printing: The greener choice

October 4, 2013 7:41 am | News | Comments

3-D printing isn’t just cheaper, it’s also greener, says Joshua Pearce, a Michigan Technological Univ. assoc. prof. of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering. Even Pearce, an aficionado of the make-it-yourself-and-save technology, was surprised at his study’s results. It showed that 3-D printer use less energy and release less carbon dioxide than producing stuff in a factory and shipping it to a warehouse.

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.

Grant opens new dimension in printing: 4-D

October 1, 2013 2:02 pm | News | Comments

With a $855,000 grant from the U.S. Army Research Office, a trio of university researchers is proposing the development a new printing technology that adds a fourth dimension. By manipulating materials at the micro- and nanoscale dimensions, they hope to develop printable structures that can exhibit behavior that changes over time.

NASA preparing to launch 3-D printer into space

September 30, 2013 11:03 am | by Martha Mendoza, AP National Writer | News | Comments

A new toaster-sized 3-D printer, set for launch next year, is designed to greatly reduce the need for astronauts to load up with every tool, spare part or supply they might ever need. The printers would serve as a flying factory of infinite designs, creating objects by extruding layer upon layer of plastic from long strands coiled around large spools.

“Sticky tape” for water droplets mimics rose petal

September 17, 2013 2:05 pm | News | Comments

A new nanostructured material with applications that could include reducing condensation in airplane cabins and enabling certain medical tests without the need for high tech laboratories has been developed by researchers in Australia. The newly discovered material uses “raspberry” particles, which emulate the structure of some rose petals and can trap tiny water droplets.

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”.

DNA glue directs tiny gel “bricks” to self-assemble

September 9, 2013 11:39 am | by Dan Ferber, Wyss Institute Communications | News | Comments

A team of researchers at Harvard Univ. has found a way to self-assemble complex structures out of gel “bricks” smaller than a grain of salt. The new method could help solve one of the major challenges in tissue engineering: creating injectable components that self-assemble into intricately structured, biocompatible scaffolds at an injury site to help regrow human tissues.

Cheaper Chinese solar panels are not due to low-cost labor

September 5, 2013 9:29 am | News | Comments

A study of the photovoltaic industries in the U.S. and China shows that China's dominance in solar panel manufacturing is not driven solely by cheaper labor and government support, but by larger-scale manufacturing and resulting supply-chain benefits. Researchers say a balance could be achieved through future innovations in crystalline solar cell technology.

Laser spectroscopy helps measure progress in nanotech design

September 4, 2013 11:24 am | News | Comments

Measuring the band offset faced by electrons jumping from one material to another is a key component of a nanoscale design process because it guides redesign and prototyping. Current methods don’t work on the nanoscale, however. Using laser-induced current in a nanowire device and its dependence on the wavelength of the laser, a team at Drexel Univ. devised a new method to derive the band offset.

Ion thruster: A new idea for nanosatellite micro-rockets

September 3, 2013 8:10 am | by Marcia Goodrich, MTU | News | Comments

Though nanosatellites already borrow several components, including cameras and radios, from terrestrial gadgets, propulsion systems have to be built from scratch. Researchers are working on electrospray ionic liquid “rockets”, but the microscopic needles they require are difficult and tedious to make. A researcher has found a way to let nature do the work, simplifying the fabrication process.

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