Pharmaceutical residues in water can pose a danger to humans. Filtration is often very difficult as these trace substances, which are soluble in water, are so minute. Newly-developed double switchable membranes could make it possible to filter these molecules, as well as other biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. The new membranes can reduce or enlarge pore size through changes in temperature and pH value.
What kinds of industrial production can bring innovation to the American economy? An intensive, long-term study by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology scholars suggests that a renewed commitment to research and development in manufacturing, sometimes through creative new forms of collaboration, can spur innovation and growth in the United States as a whole.
A research team in Austria has developed an entirely new way of capturing images based on a flat, flexible, transparent, and potentially disposable polymer sheet. The new imager, which resembles a flexible plastic film, uses fluorescent particles to capture incoming light and channel a portion of it to an array of sensors framing the sheet. With no electronics or internal components, the imager’s elegant design makes it ideal for a new breed of imaging technologies.
The size of electronic components is reaching a physical limit. While 3D assembly can reduce bulk, the challenge is in manufacturing these complex electrical connections. Biologists and physicists in France have recently developed a system of self-assembled connections using actin filaments for 3D microelectronic structures. Once the actin filaments become conductors, they join the various components of a system together.
At the Photonics West conference in San Francisco this week, the Germany-based company Nanoscribe showcased the world’s fastest 3D printer of micro- and nanostructures. With this printer, small 3D objects, often smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be manufactured with minimum time consumption and maximum resolution. The printer is based on a new laser lithography method.
Iridescence, or sheen that shifts color depending on your viewing angle, is pretty in peacock feathers. But it's been a nuisance for engineers trying to mimic the birds' unique color mechanism to make high-resolution, reflective, color display screens. Researchers at the University of Michigan have found a way to lock in so-called structural color, which is made with texture rather than chemicals. The finding could lead to advanced color e-books, electronic paper, and screens that don't need their own light to be readable.
For years, scientists have studied the potential benefits of a new branch of solar energy technology that relies on incredibly small nanosized antenna arrays that are theoretically capable of harvesting more than 70% of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation and simultaneously converting it into usable electric power. A new fabrication technique developed by University of Connecticut engineering professor Brian Willis could provide the breakthrough for this technology.
Organic semiconductors hold promise for making low-cost flexible electronics—if they can perform in spite of frequent flexing and sharp bending. Scientists have recently demonstrated extremely flexible organic semiconductors that withstood multiple bending cycles in which the devices were rolled to a radius as small as 200 μm. The scientists worked with numerous crystalline devices they made and found no degradation in their performance.
The Alaskan Brewing Co. is going green, but instead of looking to solar and wind energy, it has turned to a very familiar source: beer. The Juneau-based beer maker has installed a unique boiler system in order to cut its fuel costs. It purchased a $1.8 million furnace that burns the company's spent grain—the waste accumulated from the brewing process—into steam which powers the majority of the brewery's operations.
Scientists in the U.K. have reported that they have developed a method that cuts down the time it takes to make new “parts” for microscopic biological factories from two days to only six hours. The technique does away with the need to re-engineer a cell’s DNA every time a new part is needed. The researchers say their research brings them another step closer to a new kind of industrial revolution, where parts for these biological factories could be mass-produced.
A team of researchers in Austria has shown that so-called block copolymer stars—polymers that consist of two different blocks and are chemically anchored on a common point—have a robust and flexible architecture and they possess the ability to self-assemble at different levels. The team has called their invention, which can form complex crystal diamonds or cubes, the “soft Lego”.
Engineers working on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have recently concluded performance testing on the observatory's aft-optics subsystem at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp's facilities in Boulder, Colo. This is significant because it means all of the telescope's mirror systems are ready for integration and testing.
Electronics devices are a mainstay of our daily lives. But the expectation that the next shopping season will inevitably offer an upgrade to more-powerful gadgets largely depends on size, and developers who employ top down manufacturing methods are running into expensive roadblocks as the domain shrinks to the nanoscale. To go further, some researchers looking at a bottom up method, coaxing individual molecules to self-arrange into patterns.
It may be possible soon to charge cell phones, change the tint on windows, or power small toys with peel-and-stick versions of solar cells. A partnership between Stanford University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory aims to produce water-assisted transfer printing technologies that support thin-film solar cell production.
Not everything there is “high-tech”, but the annual Consumer Electronics Show is a great place to see the newest and most fanciful products to reach the market each year. From the iPotty for toddlers to the 1,600-pound (725-kg) mechanical spider and the host of glitch-ridden "smart" TVs, the International CES show is a forum for gadget makers to take big—and bizarre—chances.
Researchers have demonstrated a new technology that combines a laser and electric fields to create tiny centrifuge-like whirlpools to separate particles and microbes by size, a potential lab-on-a-chip system for medicine and research.
The Mars Science Laboratory is more than the biggest rolling science laboratory ever put on another planet. It's a systems engineering—and product development—triumph.
A team at Wake Forest University has used a nano-engineered polymer matrix to convert electrical charge charge into light, creating an entirely new bulb based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent technology. Unlike conventional fluorescent bulbs, these new lights will not flicker, hum, or shatter, and they offer a soft, white light.
A collaboration of several government and academic research organizations are hard at work on a design and manufacturing concept called “model-based design and verification”. Instead of building prototypes and discarding them, manufacturers would conduct virtually all of the design, testing, error identification, and revisions on a computer up to the point of commercial production.
A team of researchers have built a new type of nuclear reactor that is reliable enough to be used on space flights. The prototype, which has been used to generate 24 W of electricity, relies on heat pipe technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1983. The fluid-based cooling system requires no moving parts and the reactor itself is based on a simply closed-loop Stirling engine.
Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University and Concurrent Technologies Corporation are working with the Air Force Research Laboratory and Ogden Air Logistics Center 309 AMXG to develop and demonstrate a robotic system that uses high-powered lasers to remove coatings from fighter and cargo aircraft. The continuous-wave lasers should replace abrasives and chemicals used in traditional coating removal processes.
A new company making a high-speed, accurate, and user-friendly instrument that reveals the molecular structure of proteins, drugs, and other important materials is the latest spinoff from the University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry department.
Printed electronics and related advanced manufacturing technologies have the potential to be a $45 billion global industry, according to business analysts. Rochester Institute of Technology researchers will be able to play a key role in advancing this industry as a result of the development of a university-industry partnership with regional and national high-tech firms.
Digging, trucking and processing make mining an energy-intensive industry that emits greenhouse gases. However, mine waste rock that is rich in the mineral magnesium silicate has an inherent ability to react with CO2 and chemically "fix" it in place as magnesium carbonate. Mining engineers in Canada believe that this ability to store carbon dioxide could five to 10 times greater than total greenhouse gas production from some mine operations.
Using a new method, researchers at the University of Southern California can now grow carbon nanotube semiconductors of predefined structures. Carbon nanotubes are typically grown using a catalyst. But the scientists instead grew “clones” with predictable diameter and chirality by planting pieces of carbon nanotubes that have been separated and pre-selected based on chirality. This breakthrough may pave the way for carbon to be used in future electronics.