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The Lead

Nanoreporters tell ‘sour’ oil from ‘sweet’

April 21, 2014 8:38 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists at Rice Univ. have created a nanoscale detector that checks for and reports on the presence of hydrogen sulfide in crude oil and natural gas while they’re still in the ground. The nanoreporter is based on nanometer-sized carbon material developed by a consortium of Rice labs led by chemist James Tour, R&D’s 2013 Scientist of the Year.

 

Hybrid technology could make Star Trek-style tricorder a reality

April 8, 2014 11:29 am | News | Comments

In the fictional Star-Trek universe, the tricorder...

Tiny, wireless sensing device remotely alerts users to tell-tale vapors

April 4, 2014 2:52 pm | News | Comments

A research team has developed a small electronic sensing device that can alert users wirelessly...

Researchers change coercivity of material by patterning surfaces

March 17, 2014 9:29 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have found a way to reduce the coercivity of nickel-...

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The end of full-body scanners?

February 26, 2014 11:04 am | News | Comments

Standing in a full-body scanner at an airport isn’t fun, and the process adds time and stress to a journey. It also raises privacy concerns. But researchers now report making several key advances in terahertz wave sensor technology to create a more precise and direct method for using these waves to detect explosives from greater distances.

Artificial hand feels what you touch

February 6, 2014 12:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

It's not quite the bionics of science fiction, but European researchers have created a robotic hand that gave an amputee a sense of touch he hadn't felt in a decade. The experiment lasted only a week, but it let the patient feel if different objects were hard or soft, slim or round, and intuitively adjust his grasp.

Vanadium dioxide research opens door to spintronic smart sensors

February 5, 2014 8:12 am | News | Comments

Research from a team led by North Carolina State Univ. is opening the door to smarter sensors by integrating the smart material vanadium dioxide onto a silicon chip and using lasers to make the material magnetic. The advance paves the way for multifunctional spintronic smart sensors for use in military applications and next-generation spintronic devices.

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Weight loss program for infrared cameras

February 3, 2014 8:56 am | News | Comments

Infrared sensors can be employed in a wide range of applications, such as driver assistance systems for vehicles or thermography for buildings. However, IR detectors need to be permanently cooled, resulting in cameras that are large, heavy and energy-intensive. Researchers are now developing IR sensors for the far-infrared region that can operate at room temperature and a new prototype camera is providing a test bed for development.

Researchers develop new method to control nanoscale diamond sensors

January 24, 2014 7:59 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they could also one day help us understand how the brain processes information, thanks to a new sensing technique developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A team in MIT’s Quantum Engineering Group has developed a new method to control nanoscale diamond sensors, which are capable of measuring even very weak magnetic fields.

Turkeys inspire smartphone-capable early warning system for toxins

January 21, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Some may think of turkeys as good for just lunch meat and holiday meals, but bioengineers at the Univ. of California (UC), Berkeley saw inspiration in the big birds for a new type of biosensor that changes color when exposed to chemical vapors. This feature makes the sensors valuable detectors of toxins or airborne pathogens.

E-whiskers: Researchers develop highly sensitive tactile sensors for robotics

January 21, 2014 11:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers in California have created tactile sensors from composite films of carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles similar to the highly sensitive whiskers of cats and rats. These new e-whiskers respond to pressure as slight as a single Pascal, about the pressure exerted on a table surface by a dollar bill.

Pushing the thermal limits of nanoscale SQUIDs

January 20, 2014 6:41 pm | News | Comments

Superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) are incredibly sensitive magnetic flux sensors which have been limited in their applications because of thermal challenges at ultralow temperatures. Researchers in the U.K. have succeeded in overcoming this difficulty by introducing a new type of nanoscale SQUID based on optimized proximity effect bilayers.

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New device prevents falls in the elderly

January 17, 2014 12:26 pm | News | Comments

Falls are a major problem for the elderly. Each year, one-third of adults over age 65 experience a fall, and one-third of those falls impact health and autonomy. The Swiss spin-off Gait Up just put an extremely thin motion sensor on the market which can detect the risk of a fall in an older person and is equally useful for sports and physical therapy.

High-temperature sensor technologies to increase power plant efficiency

January 7, 2014 9:27 am | News | Comments

The sensors team at the National Energy Technology Laboratory is working on sensor technologies to enable embedded gas sensing at high temperature. Through a combination of theoretical simulations and experiments, the team has demonstrated that transparent conducting oxides such as aluminum-doped zinc oxide show significant promise for high-temperature optical gas sensing in the near‑infrared wavelength range.

Dim traffic sensors dull how “smart” freeways are

November 25, 2013 8:46 am | by Justin Pritchard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Buried under thousands of miles of pavement in California are 27,000 traffic sensors that are supposed to help troubleshoot both daily commutes and long-term maintenance needs on some of the nation's most heavily used and congested roadways. About 9,000 of them do not work, despite their critical role in an "intelligent transportation" system designed to do things like detect the congestion that quickly builds after an accident.

A bio patch that can regrow bone

November 7, 2013 12:06 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Iowa have created a bio patch to regenerate missing or damaged bone by putting DNA into a nano-sized particle that delivers bone-producing instructions directly into cells. The bone-regeneration kit relies on a collagen platform seeded with particles containing the genes needed for producing bone. 

New atomic clock design uses cold atoms to boost precision

November 6, 2013 11:21 am | News | Comments

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a compact atomic clock design that relies on cold rubidium atoms instead of the usual hot atoms, a switch that promises improved precision and stability.

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Implantable sensor paves way to long-term monitoring

November 4, 2013 7:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Nitric oxide (NO) is one of the most important signaling molecules in living cells, carrying messages within the brain and coordinating immune system functions. In many cancerous cells, levels are perturbed, but very little is known about how NO behaves in both healthy and cancerous cells. Until now.

Project aims to mass-produce nanopetals for sensor, batteries

October 22, 2013 8:28 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. are developing a method to mass-produce a new type of nanomaterial for advanced sensors and batteries, with an eye toward manufacturing in the Midwest. Research findings indicate the material shows promise as a sensor for detecting glucose in the saliva or tears and for "supercapacitors" that could make possible fast-charging, high-performance batteries.

New multi-touch sensor is customizable with scissors

October 15, 2013 2:37 pm | News | Comments

People often customize the size and shape of materials like textiles and wood without turning to specialists like tailors or carpenters. In the future this should be possible with electronics, according to computer scientists who have developed a printable multi-touch sensor whose shape and size can be altered by anybody.

New micro water sensor can aid growers

October 11, 2013 8:44 am | by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University | News | Comments

Crop growers can benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings. But current sensors are large, may cost thousands of dollars and often must be read manually. Now, Cornell Univ. researchers have developed a microfluidic water sensor within a fingertip-sized silicon chip that is a hundred times more sensitive than current devices.

A better breathalyzer

October 9, 2013 7:48 am | News | Comments

To gauge whether suspects involved in accidents or routine traffic stops have been driving drunk, police officers pair field sobriety tests with breathalyzers. Most breathalyzers are expensive and unable to test for precise concentrations of alcohol. Offering a better solution, Italian researchers have developed a novel idea for an inexpensive, portable breathalyzer.

“Ship in a bottle” detects dangerous vapors

October 7, 2013 3:27 pm | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists took a lesson from craftsmen of old to assemble microscopic compounds that warn of the presence of dangerous fumes from solvents. The researchers combined a common mineral, zeolite, with a metallic compound based on rhenium to make an “artificial nose” that can sniff out solvent gases.

A better device to detect ultraviolet light

October 7, 2013 2:11 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan have developed a new photodiode that can detect in just milliseconds a certain type of high-energy ultraviolet light, called UVC, which is powerful enough to break the bonds of DNA and harm living creatures. The new device shows promise for space-based communication and monitoring ozone depletion.

With carbon nanotubes, a path to flexible, low-cost sensors

September 25, 2013 12:59 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Germany are showing the way toward low-cost, industrial-scale manufacturing of a new family of electronic devices. Gas sensors that could be integrated into food packaging to gauge freshness, new types of solar cells and flexible transistors, and sensors that could be built into electronic skin: All can be made with carbon nanotubes, sprayed like ink onto flexible plastic sheets or other substrates.

Sensor provides new approach to molecule detection on silicon surfaces

September 25, 2013 8:14 am | News | Comments

A team from Queen’s Univ. has found a way to “feel” the surface of silicon molecules at the molecular level. This new “sense of touch” could mean a solution to the long-standing problem of producing clear images of silicon surfaces with a scanning tunneling microscope. Closely examining silicon surfaces has become increasingly important over the years as nearly all microelectronic devices are made from silicon-containing microchips.

Researchers take a step closer to finding cosmic ray origins

September 3, 2013 8:38 am | News | Comments

The origin of cosmic rays in the universe has confounded scientists for decades. But a study by researchers using data from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole reveals new information that may help unravel the longstanding mystery of exactly how and where these “rays”, which are actually high-energy particles, are produced.

Almost as sensitive as a dog’s nose

August 29, 2013 9:38 am | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Using carbon nanotubes, a research team in Switzerland and California has developed a sensor that greatly amplifies the sensitivity of commonly used but typically weak vibrational spectroscopic methods, such as Raman spectroscopy. This type of sensor makes it possible to detect molecules present in the tiniest of concentrations.

S.F. Bay Area building demolition fuels quake study

August 19, 2013 11:11 am | by Mihir Zaveri, Associated Press | News | Comments

With a series of quick blasts and a cloud of dust a 13-story building on the Cal State-East Bay campus crashed to the ground Saturday morning as scientists monitored the impact on the nearby Hayward Fault. U.S. Geological Survey scientists had placed more than 600 seismographs in concentric circles within a mile of the building to pick up the vibrations and verify whether their predictions were correct.

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