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Controlling thermal conductivities can improve energy storage

June 4, 2014 7:30 am | by Rick Kubetz, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

Materials that control heat flow are available with both high and low conductivities, but materials with variable and reversible thermal conductivities are rare. For the first time, researchers at the Univ. of Illinois have experimentally shown that the thermal conductivity of lithium cobalt oxide, an important material for electrochemical energy storage, can be reversibly electrochemically modulated over a considerable range.

Physicists take quantum leap toward ultra-precise measurement

June 3, 2014 11:20 am | News | Comments

For the first time, physicists in Canada have been able to conduct measurements using photons at a resolution unattainable according to classical physics. Their work used quantum entangled photons to increase photon throughput in interferometers to increase measurement resolution. The effort depended on a new way to employ multiple detectors in order to measure photons in entangled states.

Lasers and night-vision technology help improve imaging of hidden lymphatic system

June 3, 2014 11:14 am | News | Comments

The human lymphatic system is a poorly understood circulatory system consisting of tiny vessels spread throughout the body. These vessels are filled with lymph, a clear liquid that lacks the natural contrast needed to show up on CT scanners or MRIs. A new technology developed in Texas can non-invasively image the human lymphatic system using a fluorescent dye, commercial laser dioded, and military-grade night vision devices.

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Researchers predict the electrical response of metals to extreme pressures

June 3, 2014 10:50 am | News | Comments

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists have developed a method that can predict how subjecting metals to severe pressure can lower their electrical resistance. The finding which involved theoretical predictions, use of a supercomputer, and equipment capable of exerting pressures up to 40,000 atmospheres, could have applications in computer chips and other materials that could benefit from specific electrical resistance.

Computer scientists develop tool to make the Internet of Things safer

June 3, 2014 9:40 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering | News | Comments

Computer scientists at the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed a tool that allows hardware designers and system builders to test security—a first for the field. There is a big push to create the so-called Internet of Things, where all devices are connected and communicate with one another. As a result, embedded systems—small computer systems built around microcontrollers—are becoming more common.

Discovery sheds light on how to control self-assembly process

June 3, 2014 8:35 am | News | Comments

Imagine a tower that builds itself into the desired structure only by choosing the appropriate bricks. Absurd, but in the nano world self-assembly is now a common practice for forming structures. Researchers in Austria have been investigating how they can control the ordering of self-assembling structures and discovered how to switch the assembly process on and off.

Apple expands into health, home with new software

June 3, 2014 8:20 am | by Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

New tools for tracking health and controlling household appliances are part of updated operating systems that Apple unveiled Monday in San Francisco at its 25th annual conference for application developers. The company is expanding into home and health management as the company tries to turn its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers into an interchangeable network of devices that serve as a hub of people's increasingly digital lives.

Simple sewing machine has high-tech role in future “soft” machines

June 3, 2014 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

The humble sewing machine could play a key role in creating "soft" robotics, wearable electronics and implantable medical systems made of elastic materials that are capable of extreme stretching. New stretchable technologies could lead to innovations including robots that have human-like sensory skin and synthetic muscles and flexible garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

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A fuel cell for the home

June 3, 2014 6:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Europe have designed a new type of fuel cell that is much simpler and can be mounted on a wall and used in a home. Designed with heater manufacturer Vaillant, the compact and safe system is based on solid fuel cell technology and generates electricity and heat from natural gas. With an output of 1 kW, it provides the average current consumption for a four-person household.

Solar Impulse 2 makes maiden flight

June 2, 2014 9:20 am | Videos | Comments

A Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft has made a successful inaugural flight as its makers prepare for what they hope will be the first round-the-world solar flight. The aircraft spent 2 hours and 17 minutes in the air above western Switzerland early Monday. The Solar Impulse 2 is a bigger and better version of a single-seat prototype that first took flight five years ago and can theoretically stay airborne indefinitely.

Observing the random diffusion of missing atoms in graphene

May 30, 2014 10:58 am | News | Comments

Imperfections in the regular atomic arrangements in crystals determine many of the properties of a material, and their diffusion is behind many microstructural changes in solids. However, imaging non-repeating atomic arrangements is difficult in conventional materials. Now, researchers in Austria have directly imaged the diffusion of a butterfly-shaped atomic defect in graphene.

Rush a light wave and you’ll break its data

May 30, 2014 10:44 am | News | Comments

Scientists at NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute have shown how attempts to "push" part of a light beam past the speed of light results in the loss of the quantum data the light carries. The results could clarify how noise might limit the transfer of information in quantum computers.

Think fast, robot

May 30, 2014 9:01 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

One of the reasons we don’t yet have self-driving cars and miniature helicopters delivering online purchases is that autonomous vehicles tend not to perform well under pressure. A system that can flawlessly parallel park at 5 mph may have trouble avoiding obstacles at 35 mph. Part of the problem is the time it takes to produce and interpret camera data.

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SpaceX finishes qualification testing for 3-D printed rocket engine

May 30, 2014 8:58 am | Videos | Comments

The SuperDraco thruster, an engine that will power SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to orbit, has completed a test regimen held over the last month at SpaceX’s Rocket Development Facility in Texas. This qualification test involves a variety of conditions conditions including multiple starts, extended firing durations and extreme off-nominal propellant flow and temperatures.

Zeroing in on the proton's magnetic moment

May 30, 2014 8:32 am | News | Comments

As part of a series of experiments designed to resolve one of the deepest mysteries of physics today, researchers have made the most precise ever direct measurement of the magnetic moment of a proton. The measurement, based on spectroscopy of a single particle in a Penning trap, was completed at a fractional precision of 3 parts per billion, improving the 42-year-old "fundamental constant" by a factor of three.

New laser sensing technology could support self-driving cars, smartphone tech

May 29, 2014 11:50 am | News | Comments

A new twist on 3-D imaging technology could one day enable your self-driving car to spot a child in the street half a block away or play “virtual tennis” on your driveway. The new system, developed by researchers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, can remotely sense objects across distances as long as 30 feet, 10 times farther than what could be done with comparable current low-power laser systems.

The pirate in the microbe

May 29, 2014 11:25 am | News | Comments

Bacteria use threadlike appendages, called pili, to creep along a surface, and some disease-causing microbes extend pili in all directions to move. But until now researchers have been unable to explain why bacteria like these are able to travel in a straight line consistently. A new model developed to describe this movement shows that bacteria do not act as randomly as they appear to when moving.

SABIC collaborates with Cima Nanotech on new conductive, transparent film

May 29, 2014 9:01 am | News | Comments

Saudi Arabian-based petrochemical company SABIC and Cima NanoTech have announced the joint development of a new transparent conductive polycarbonate film. The collaboration leverages both Cima NanoTech’s proprietary SANTE nanoparticle technology and SABIC’s LEXAN film to produce a film that outperforms indium tin oxide by a factor of ten.

A cure for dry eye could be a blink away

May 29, 2014 8:37 am | by Susan Gawlowicz, Rochester Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A treatment for dry eye, a burning, gritty condition that can impair vision and damage the cornea, could someday result from computer simulations that map the way tears move across the surface of the eye. To understand dry eye, the team had to begin with the physics and chemistry of tears.

Sight for sore eyes: Augmented reality without the discomfort

May 28, 2014 11:08 am | News | Comments

One major limitation of augmented reality (AR) devices such as Google Glass is that moving back and forth between a 2-D image on a screen and the 3-D real world can cause eye strain unless the object of focus is far away. A new device under development should make AR technology easier on the eyes for short-distance applications, too, by superimposing 3-D images instead of 2-D.

Get ready for the computers of the future

May 28, 2014 8:07 am | by Sue Holmes, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Computing experts at Sandia National Laboratories have launched an effort to help discover what computers of the future might look like, from next-generation supercomputers to systems that learn on their own—new machines that do more while using less energy.

Researcher reboots deep brain stimulation

May 28, 2014 7:53 am | News | Comments

Deep brain stimulators, devices that zap Parkinson’s disease tremors by sending electrical current deep into nerve centers near the brain stem, may sound like they are cutting-edge, but Rice Univ.’s Caleb Kemere wants to give them a high-tech overhaul.

Researchers introduce precision-guided epidurals, better blood monitors

May 27, 2014 3:19 pm | News | Comments

Scientists have recently combined optical coherence tomography (OCT) with other instruments to help doctors provide safer, less painful, and more effective care for women in labor and people with diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Their work, to be showcased at CLEO in San Jose, Calif., in June 2014, will enable precision-guided epidural needles and blood flow measurements without contrast agents.

New engine design could reduce aircraft fuel consumption by 15%

May 27, 2014 12:20 pm | by Christian Johansson, Chalmers University of Technology | News | Comments

According to new research from Sweden, two aircraft engine concepts, a geared turbofan and an open rotor, can enable a significant reduction to aircraft fuel consumption. With an open rotor, the potential reduction is 15%. An open rotor engine generates most of the thrust from two counter-rotating propellers instead of a ducted fan. This enables a larger engine diameter and a higher propulsive efficiency.

X-ray dark-field radiography provides detailed imaging of lung diseases

May 27, 2014 12:17 pm | News | Comments

Conventional radiographic procedures generate images based on the absorption of x-rays as they pass through tissue. Newly developed x-ray dark-field radiography uses new technology to monitor wave changes during tissue transmission to create higher resolution images. Researchers in Germany have recently tested this technique for the first time on a living organism and report that the method shows promise in detecting diseases earlier.

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