NASA's Curiosity rover has uncovered signs of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars that may have teemed with tiny organisms for tens of millions of years, far longer than scientists had imagined, new research suggests. The watering hole near the Martian equator existed about 3.5 billion years ago. Scientists say it was neither salty nor acidic, and contained nutrients—a perfect spot to support microbes.
Students may soon be able to touch some of the theoretical concepts they are taught in their physics classes thanks to a new idea devised by a group of researchers in England. In just eight hours and at the cost of around 15 euros, they were able to use a commercially available 3-D printer to create their own object based on a mathematical model that described how forest fires can be started and how they eventually spread over time.
A researcher team from Spain and Italy say that when envisioning in vivo microrobots of the future, we should forget cogwheels, pistons and levers. These miniature robots will be soft, and behave much like euglenids, tiny unicellular aquatic animals. Their work in studying these creatures have given them insights on how to design soft robots with effective mechanical structures.
From green electricity tariffs to car sharing schemes, many sustainable products and services are being brought to market by start-ups. However, there has been relatively little research into how and why individuals take this step and whether their start-ups become a success. Fourteen European institutes coordinated by the Technical Univ. of Munich will be investigating this trend to see what potential it holds for a sustainable economy.
A consortium led by Northwestern Univ. will establish a new NIST-sponsored center of excellence for advanced materials research. The Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) will be funded in part by a $25 million award from NIST over five years and will focus on computational tools, databases and experimental techniques to allow “materials by design”, a major goal of the Materials Genome Initiative.
DARPA-funded researchers have recently developed new methods to integrate long 50-m coils of waveguides with low signal loss onto microchips. This new class of photonic waveguides, with losses approaching that of optical fiber, is smaller and more precise than any previous light delay device.
Online retailer Amazon.com aiming to deliver packages quicker than pizza. Its so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project, now underway in Amazon’s research and development labs, could get goods to customers in 30 minutes or less. But the company admits it will take years to advance the needed technology and for the needed federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations to be created.
While business operations have matured to help better commercialize new products, an important puzzle piece is missing. Companies must fill this gap to complete the big picture and accelerate innovation. That missing piece is science. Over the past few decades, process manufacturing industries adapted business operations to effectively manage transformational changes.
Professor Ken Naitoh of Waseda Univ.'s Faculty of Science and Engineering has discovered a new compressive combustion principle that could yield engines with a much higher level of thermal efficiency: up to 60% or more in applications including automobiles, power generation and aircraft.
The research team was inspired by biological processes in species such as amphibians, which can regenerate severed limbs, engineers in Pittsburgh have developed computational models to design a new polymer gel that would enable complex materials to regenerate bulk sections of severed material using nanorods.
SunPartner Technologies and 3M Company have announced an agreement to collaborate in product development and technical solutions based on engineered electronics materials from 3M and transparent solar cell technologies from Sunpartner Technologies. The two companies are developing a sustainable wireless transparent micro component that will charge devices while they are being used and exposed to light.
Converting solar energy into storable fuel remains one of the greatest challenges of modern chemistry. Chemists have commonly tried to use indium tin oxide (ITO) because it has transparency, but it also expensive and rare. Researchers at Duke Univ. has created something they hope can replace ITO: copper nanowires fused in a see-through film.
Researchers have created magnetic replicas of sunflower pollen grains using a wet chemical, layer-by-layer process that applies highly conformal iron oxide coatings. The replicas possess natural adhesion properties inherited from the spiky pollen particles while gaining magnetic behavior, allowing for tailored adhesion to surfaces.
In leaves, two proteins are responsible for photosynthesis, and they perform the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen and biomass very efficiently. Scientists have now harnessed this capability by embedding these proteins into complex molecules developed in the laboratory. Their bio-based solar cell creates electron current instead of biomass.
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)'s Acoustics Div., with Bluefin Robotics, executed a record setting 507 km (315 mile), long-endurance autonomy research mission using its heavyweight-class mine countermeasures autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Reliant. NRL's Reliant AUV, when equipped with a low-frequency broadband sonar system, is perhaps best known as the prototype for the new U.S. Navy Knifefish mine-hunter.
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working with aircraft makers to determine energy savings through the use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing. The research team is printing airplane parts to show additive manufacturing’s potential as a technology that should be considered foundational to processes seeking more energy efficiency.
New work by researchers at Univ. of California, Berkeley could soon transform the building blocks of modern electronics by making nanomagnetic switches a viable replacement for the conventional transistors found in all computers.
North Carolina State Univ. researchers have a developed a technique for efficiently producing nanoscale gold rods in large quantities while simultaneously controlling the dimensions of the nanorods and their optical properties. The optical properties of gold nanorods make them desirable for use in biomedical applications ranging from imaging technologies to cancer treatment.
Batteries that power electric cars have problems. They take a long time to charge. The charge doesn’t hold long enough to drive long distances. They don’t allow drivers to quickly accelerate. They are big and bulky. By creating nanoparticles with controlled shape, engineers in California believe smaller, more powerful and energy-efficient batteries for vehicles can be built.
Northwestern Univ. and Argonne National Laboratory scientists have recently overcome problems with growing graphene on chemically inert substrates, demonstrating the first growth of graphene on a single-crystal silver substrate. Their method could advance graphene-based optical devices and enable the interfacing of graphene with other two-dimensional materials.
The doctor isn't in, but he can still see you now. Remote presence robots are allowing physicians to "beam" themselves into hospitals to diagnose patients and offer medical advice during emergencies. A growing number of hospitals in California and other states are using telepresence robots to expand access to medical specialists, especially in rural areas where there's a shortage of doctors.
Stanford Univ. researchers have developed an inexpensive device that uses light to split water into oxygen and clean-burning hydrogen. The goal is to supplement solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that can generate electricity when the sun isn't shining or demand is high.
Back in 1991, Nature published a picture from the IMAX movie Antarctica, pointing out that emperor penguins can accelerate from 0 to 7 m/s in less than a second. That got the attention of Flavio Noca, now an aerodynamics professor in Switzerland, who will present a new spherical joint mechanism inspired by penguin propulsion at the next American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Pittsburgh.
The first trickle of fuels made from agricultural waste is finally winding its way into the nation's energy supply. But the full benefits of this fuel source remain many years away, and ethanol, which was meant to be a stop-gap until non-food sources of fuel were found, has been far more damaging to the environment than the government predicted.
If you think with the release of every new i-device the world is getting closer to thought-controlled smart tech and robotic personal assistants, you might be right. And thanks in part to work led by the Univ. of Cincinnati's Anca Ralescu, we may be even closer than you realize.