Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Wideband Retroreflector

There are many known methods of retransmitting radio wave signals intra-building and inter-building, as well as ground-to-aircraft or ground-to-satellite. Some techniques modulate the reflection coefficient of an antenna. Prior art has used frequency multiplication or field effect transistor (FET) mixing to modulate the reflection coefficient of an antenna, and therefore the reflected amount of incident power to perform this function. This method is limited by its instantaneous bandwidth to about 50 MHz and its overall efficiency, in addition to the tendency to produce large amounts of harmonics. Other techniques include optical retroreflectors and RFID transponders. Optical retroreflectors reflect the illuminating energy; RFID transponders use a fixed RF frequency with resonant circuits.

Posted in: Briefs, Communications
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Microstructural Explorations Inside Fuel Cells

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), a promising technology that can efficiently produce energy using fossil fuels with no moving parts and low emissions, present a particularly perplexing economic challenge: current systems operate at maximum efficiency between 700 and 1000 degrees Celsius, but such high temperatures shorten their service life, requiring more frequent fuel cell stack replacements. Lowering the operating temperature makes them last longer, but requires additional cells in the stack to deliver the same performance, and that drives up costs.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Photonics
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The Advanced Land Imager Helped NASA Mission Exceed Expectations.

After more than 16 years of operation, NASA’s Earth Observing–1 (EO-1) spacecraft was decommissioned on March 30 of this year. The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory was aboard as an alternative to the land-imaging sensor that was used by the Landsat Earth-observing program.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Photonics
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Sound-Off: How Do You Secure the ‘Connected’ Car?

What are the best ways to detect and prevent cyberattacks on today's 'connected' cars? Share your thoughts and "Sound Off!"

Posted in: News, Automotive
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3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at the University of California San Diego has demonstrated a more flexible option: a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. The 3D-printed quadrupedal technology may someday support search-and-rescue missions requiring intelligent navigation capabilities.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Automation, Robotics
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Sound-Off: How are Collaborative Robots Being Used Today?

Are you seeing collaborative robots being integrated into today's production and manufacturing environments? Tech Briefs invites you to "Sound Off" on the role of "cobots."

Posted in: News, Robotics
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What's New on Tech Briefs: Brickmaking on Mars a 'Smashing' Success

With support from Congress and the President, NASA aims to send a manned mission to Mars by 2040. Establishing a human presence on the Red Planet, however, will require permanent shelters.

And lugging a pile of bricks on the nine-month, 35-million-mile trip is out of the question.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling
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Human-Robot Interaction: When Robotics Meets Philosophy

To support human-robot interaction, designers are taking a page from philosophy and studying how we work together with one another.

Posted in: News, Automation, Robotics
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A Shape-Changing Display – Made from Fog

Researchers from the University of Sussex are the first to combine two cutting-edge visualization technologies in one: a fog screen and a shape-shifting display. The “MistForm” system, according to one of its creators, enables interaction capabilities that improve upon today’s virtual- and augmented-reality offerings.

Posted in: News, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Imaging
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Tech Briefs Q&A: Photocatalyst Device Turns Pollution into Power

Researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven have built a proof-of-concept device that performs two noble functions simultaneously: purifying polluted air and generating power. Read the Tech Briefs Q&A with Professor Sammy Verbruggen.

Posted in: News, Energy, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
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