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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the latest advance in efforts to find an inexpensive way to make hydrogen from ordinary water, scientists are reporting that powder from high-grade charcoal and other forms of carbon can free hydrogen from water illuminated with laser pulses.
Made in Texas, Motorola’s new Moto X is the first smartphone to carry the "Made in the U.S.A." designation. Labor costs are higher in the U.S. compared with Asian factories, where phones are typically made. But IHS said the Moto X is about 5% cheaper to make than Samsung Electronic Co.'s flagship Galaxy S4 phone.
Composed of a very little number of atoms, nanomachines offer the promise of a revolution in manufacturing and civilization. Researchers around the world look at various molecules trying to put them to work. But recent measurements in Poland using a new technique for estimating power generated by motors of single molecule in size reveal that power of such motors is considerably less than expected by developers.
Leveraging the amazing natural properties of the Morpho butterfly's wings, scientists have developed a hybrid material that shows promise for wearable electronic devices, highly sensitive light sensors and sustainable batteries. A honeycomb network of carbon nanotubes has actually been grown on Morpho butterfly wings, creating a composite material that can be activated with a laser.
The largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA hsa ever tested blazed to life Thursday, Aug. 22 during an engine firing that generated a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. This test is a milestone for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware.
Most solar cells today are inorganic and made of crystalline silicon. These cells tend to be expensive, rigid and relatively inefficient when it comes to converting sunlight into electricity. Work by a team of chemical engineers at Penn State Univ. and Rice Univ. may lead to a new class of inexpensive organic solar cells, one that skips difficult-to-scale fullerene acceptors and relies on molecular self-assembly instead.
Scientists at Switzerland have developed a new method for making antimicrobial surfaces that can eliminate bacteria under a minute. The breakthrough relies on a new sputtering technique that uses a highly ionized plasma to, for the first time, deposit antibacterial titanium oxide and copper films on 3-D polyester surfaces. This promotes the production of free radicals, which are powerful natural bactericides.
The world’s most famous painting has now been created on the world’s smallest canvas. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have “painted” the Mona Lisa on a substrate surface approximately 30 micrometers in width—or one-third the width of a human hair. The team’s creation, the “Mini Lisa,” demonstrates a technique that could potentially be used to achieve nanomanufacturing of devices.
Semiconductor manufacturers look for ways to save wafer material. According to recent research, ultra-thin saws made of carbon nanotubes and coated with diamond would be able to cut through silicon wafers with minimum loss. A new method that grows both nanotubes and diamonds makes it possible to manufacture the saw wires.
In an effort to thwart forgeries, researchers in Switzerland have proposed a new miniaturized authentication system. By combining moiré patterns and microlithography techniques, authorities can be easily recognize counterfeits with the naked eye and counterfeiters will find it impossible to reproduce items through currently existing printer or scanner technology.
Scientists are working to reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels by developing environmentally friendly and cost effective plastics from natural, sustainable and renewable materials, such as vegetable oils, starches, sugars—even recycled grass clippings. The Univ. of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Polymers has recruited more than 25 companies to help develop new materials and those already on the market, like polylactide.
Researchers in California have demonstrated that indium phosphide, a III-V compound, can be grown on thin sheets of metal foil in a process that is faster and cheaper than traditional methods, yet still comparable in optoelectronic characteristics. Indium phosphide is among the high-performance solar converter, but has been up to 10 times as expensive as silicon to integrate in photovoltaic cells.
Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. The device, developed at the Univ. of Maryland, is 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.
Fixation processes free up nitrogen atoms from their diatomic form, but nitrogen does not easily react with other chemicals to form new compounds. Researchers in South Korea have invented a simple and eco-friendly method of creating nitrogen-doped graphene nanoplatelets that simultaneously facilitates the nitrogen-fixation process and creates useful tools for building dye-sensitized solar cells and fuel cells.
Diffusion of sodium ions from the glass substrate is thought to be the primary cause of potential-induced degradation (PID) in crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. A research institute and metals company in Japan have partnered to develop a thin film solution. The titanium oxide-based composite metal compound they have developed is inexpensive to produce and highly scalable.
Researchers in South Korea have reported the development of a new plasmonic material that can be applied to both polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs) and polymer solar cells (PSCs), resulting in high performance from a low-cost fabrication process. They say the material is easy to synthesize with basic equipment and has low-temperature solution processability.
Flexible electronics have a wide variety of possibilities, from bendable displays and batteries to medical implants that move with the body. Networks of spherical nanoparticles embedded in elastic materials may make the best stretchy conductors yet, engineering researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have discovered.
Researchers at Arizona State Univ. have successfully manufactured the world’s largest flexible color organic light emitting display prototype using advanced mixed oxide thin film transistors. Measuring 7.4 diagonal inches, the device was developed at ASU’s Flexible Display Center in conjunction with Army Research Labs scientists.
Hamilton Scientific, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of laboratory furniture and fume hoods, has moved its corporate headquarters from Two Rivers, Wisconsin to a new, LEED-certified, 20,000-square-foot building in De Pere, Wisconsin.