New research at the Univ. of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information to amputees via a direct interface with the brain. The research marks an important step toward new technology that, if implemented successfully, would increase the dexterity and clinical viability of robotic prosthetic limbs.
Walking is tricky business. And while most artificial feet and limbs do a pretty good job restoring mobility to people who have lost a leg, they have a ways to go before they equal the intricacy of a natural gait. As a result, over half of all amputees take a fall every year, compared to about one-third of people over 65. Researchers are taking a giant step toward solving the problem.
Terahertz radiation is gaining attention due to its many applications. Traditional methods of generating terahertz radiation, however, usually involve large and expensive instruments, some of which also require cryogenic cooling. A compact terahertz source operating at room temperature with high power has been a dream device in the terahertz community for decades. A team from Northwestern Univ. has now brought this dream closer to reality.
Writing in Nature Communications, researchers at The Univ. of Manchester and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have demonstrated that membranes can be directly 'written' on to a graphene surface using a technique known as Lipid Dip-Pen Nanolithography (L-DPN).
Object recognition is one of the most widely studied problems in computer vision. But a robot that manipulates objects in the world needs to do more than just recognize them; it also needs to understand their orientation. Is that mug right-side up or upside-down? And which direction is its handle facing? To improve robots’ ability to gauge object orientation, a team is exploiting a statistical construct called the Bingham distribution.
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.
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.
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.
A new study has found that “waviness” in forests of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes dramatically reduces their stiffness, answering a long-standing question surrounding the tiny structures. Instead of being a detriment, the waviness may make the nanotube arrays more compliant and therefore useful as thermal interface material for conducting heat away from future high-powered integrated circuits.
An industry-academic partnership has created two different optical components that can be fabricated within the same processes already used in industry to create today’s electronic microprocessors. The modulators, which are structures that detect electrical signals and translate them into optical waves, use light instead of electrical wires to communicate with transistors on a single chip.
A pair of breakthroughs in the field of silicon photonics by researchers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Micron Technology Inc. could allow for the trajectory of exponential improvement in microprocessors that began nearly half a century ago—known as Moore’s Law—to continue well into the future, allowing for increasingly faster electronics, from supercomputers to laptops to smartphones.
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.
Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new drape made from graphene—the thinnest material known to science—which can enhance the water-resistant properties of materials with rough surfaces.
Researchers in Australia have developed a process for turning waste plastic bags into a high-tech nanomaterial. The furnace-driven process uses non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags to produce carbon layers that line pores in nanoporous alumina membranes. The result is carbon nanotube membranes.
The U.S. economy retains myriad sources of innovative capacity; but not enough of the innovations occurring in America today reach the marketplace, according to a major two-year Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. The report found that potentially valuable innovations occur throughout the advanced manufacturing sector and in companies of all sizes, from multinational conglomerates to specialized “Main Street” firms.
Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed arrays of tiny nanoantennas that can enable sensing of molecules that resonate in the infrared (IR) spectrum. Other nanoscale antenna systems can't be tuned to a longer light wavelength due to limitations of traditional nanoantenna materials. The team used highly doped semiconductors, grown by molecular beam epitaxy.
FluxMerge, adjusts the magnetic reluctance distribution across the pole faces opposite the airgap. The magnetic flux crossing over the airgap, as a result, merges toward the central axis along the magnetic circuit path to reduce leakage into the surrounding space. Reduced airgap leakage improves efficiency by about 1.5%, and offers the opportunity for more compact designs.
A researcher in the Netherlands has managed to bridge the “gap” between two ultrathin gold nanowires, each just a few atoms high, with a single molecule. This bridge could serve to detect new physical effects or may act as a switch.
A team from Cambridge Univ. in England has devised a simple technique to increase the density of nanotube forests grown on conductive supports about five times over previous methods. The new technique could one day help improve the performance of microelectronics in devices ranging from batteries to spacecraft.
Magnesium is a lightweight metal used in cars and planes to improve their fuel efficiency. But it currently requires a lot of energy and money to produce the metal. Engineers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a new production method that would be 50% more energy efficient than the United States' current production process.
Steam condensation is key to the worldwide production of electricity and clean water: It is part of the power cycle that drives 85% of all electricity-generating plants and about half of all desalination plants globally. So anything that improves the efficiency of this process could have enormous impact on global energy use. Now, a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology says they have found a way to do just that.
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.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute shows that cement made with waste ash from sugar production is stronger than ordinary cement. The study shows that the ash helps to bind water in the cement so that it is stronger, can withstand higher pressure and crumbles less.
At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell Univ. and Germany's Univ. of Ulm, has been recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records. The remarkable material was an accidental byproduct of a graphene fabrication process.
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.